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Posts Tagged ‘interview’
In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, British actor Richard Armitage plays Thorin Oakenshield, exiled dwarf king. He’s a newcomer to the Peter Jackson vision of Middle Earth — which began with the three Lord of the Rings films, and continues with a new Hobbit trilogy — but no stranger to the world of author J.R.R. Tolkien.
“I am one of those people who have loved the book,” he says. “I remember being read The Hobbit by a teacher in primary school who did amazing voices, God bless her. I picked up the book myself and started reading it, which was kind of rare because normally I would have to be forced to read.”
He missed the chance to audition for the first set of films, but when The Hobbit came around he jumped at the chance.
“I had no idea how I would fit into that story because the idea of playing a dwarf just wasn’t on my radar. I’m six foot three and a half, so why on earth would I play a dwarf?”
It wasn’t the first time he was excited to bring the fantasy of Middle Earth to life.
“I was in a stage production of The Hobbit when I was 13,” he says, “which I leapt at. It’s weird how you have that reaction when someone says they’re doing a stage production, at 13 to go, ‘I’ve read that book. I love it. Let me be in it.’ I had the same feeling when they were making this movie.”
He says thoughts of that long ago play are “filled with strange memories.”
“I remember wearing a knitted smock, which had been sprayed silver to look like chain mail but it was made of wool. I was an elf. I was pretty tall for 13 years old. Gollum was made of paper and they didn’t have enough money for a dragon, so it was a red light, a puff of smoke and a man off stage with a microphone. I remember running around in circles eating grapes because we were doing a scene in the forest where the Elves are tempting the dwarves to come to their feast.”
He draws a straight line between his early love of Tolkien and his current profession.
“My imagination was totally stimulated by Tolkien’s world and I think once you’ve had your imagination stimulated in that way, every book you ever read you dramatize in your head. You hear character’s voices and visualize that world.”
The two-time Oscar winner has been on sets her entire adult life, from her iconic work on television shows like Gidget and The Flying Nun when she was a teen to recent roles in hits like The Amazing Spider-Man but even with that wealth of experience she says the set of Lincoln was “the most breathtaking place to exist.”
“I have never had an experience like that and I never will again,” she says. “It was a safe, respected space. I didn’t have to hide my process; hide it in the corner because someone’ s going to think I’m weird. It is the way it should always be because it frees the actors to be what they have prepared themselves to be, what they have learned to be and Steven and Daniel created this. I will never have it again. I am so grateful to have had that time.”
The Steven and Daniel she mentions are, of course, Spielberg and Day-Lewis, her a-list director and co-star. She credits them with creating the unique set environment that helped her stay in the character as the 16th President of the United States’s wife, Mary Todd.
“When Mr. Lincoln and Mary shot their scenes in the White House I never saw the crew,” she says. “I felt them around, sort of, but not really. I hardly saw anything, except the room, and Mr. Lincoln. Every once and a while I would have a sense that someone was popping into my ear and whisper something and it would be Steven. I didn’t know where he came from and I wasn’t sure where he went. Nothing was ever invasive or startling.”
She describes Lincoln’s wife, “as one of the most complicated, under examined, misunderstood, incredibly important female characters in American history.”
“Who wouldn’t want to play Mary Todd?” she adds.
Working with such a high caliber of talent allowed her to “simply do [my] work and let the pieces fall where they may.” She gushes when talking about Tony Kushner’s “extraordinary” script, the “guidance and stewardship” of Spielberg but saves her highest praise for co-star Daniel Day-Lewis.
“He’s so unbelievably brilliant and a towering example of unmitigated excellence,” she says. “Uncompromising excellence. But that is how actors work. Daniel does what we all do, he does it better, that’s all.”
The real life Chambers was a legendary Hollywood makeup artist who created techniques in the 1960s while working on films like Planet of the Apes, which are still used today. Most famously he designed the pointed Spock ears worn by Leonard Nimoy on Star Trek.
He was also a civilian CIA operative. He never won an Academy Award, but the spy organization gave him their highest civilian honour for his help on various missions, including the daring rescue of six American diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979.
Not much is known of Chambers’s exploits, but Goodman felt he needed to get the essence of the man right.
“I could be funny and say I don’t want to get my eye gouged out by an angry make-up guy,” he says when I ask if he feels responsibility to Chambers. “He was kind of the progenitor of people I work with. There was a boom in the ’60s with prosthetic makeup and he was the wellhead of it. To not take that seriously would be to deny the craftsmen working now and the work that he did do for his government serving his country.”
Goodman shares most of his scenes with another Hollywood legend, Alan Arkin, who plays movie producer Lester Siegel.
“I think the world of him,” he says. “He has always touched something in me as an actor that was real and truthful. How does he do it? The things I’ve heard him say over the years and the way he started, with Second City and as a musician, has always fascinated me.
“We would sit and talk about jazz-bop, Charlie Parker, Slim Gaillard and all those cats. We found a vocabulary and it was immediate to me that I could relax with him because I could trust him.”
And Goodman is quick to acknowledge Canada’s involvement in the rescue.
“Those people were heroes,” he says of Taylor and the Canadians who hid the U.S. refugees.
“I can’t imagine doing that with the riots going on outside, the constant reminder that you are risking your lives; risking a very gruesome death. There would have been torture. But it was pulled off with typical Canadian aplomb.”
When David Cronenberg wrote the Cosmopolis script he transcribed much of the dialogue directly from Don DeLillo’s densely written novel. Those pages of complicated, lyrical conversation attracted the film’s star, Robert Pattinson.
“I liked the poetry of this script when I first read it,” he said. “My only idea was that it was really different to anything I had ever done and I thought I couldn’t do it. That stuck to me afterwards and I thought that should be the way to choose projects, or which projects to go after — the ones you don’t understand, or the ones you are scared of. That generally means you’ll end up being better afterwards.”
The script was so finely tuned that barely a word was changed during the shoot. The 26-year-old Twilight star says he is used to script changes on other movies, but a modification to a line about a gun on the Cosmopolis set jarred his pacing.
“I remember the line was about the attachment above the trigger guard,” he says. “But there was no attachment above the trigger guard (on the prop gun).
I was so used to the rhythms of everything and suddenly it changed the rhythm of the entire scene. We were doing page-and-a-half long sequences and it was so in my head that to suddenly change it on the day threw me.”
He’s been winning praise for his strange, otherworldly performance as billionaire money manager Eric Packer, but don’t suggest he delved deep into his own psyche to create the man we see on screen.
He says the perception is that actors have “to be psychoanalysts,” but that’s just from the ’50s. Before that actors only thought about their face, and their voice and their movement.
“I think that’s one of the things I have come away from this movie with, in terms of acting in general. You don’t need to analyze things that much. You don’t need to understand it.”
It’s a complicated film, bursting with ideas and one very much open to interpretation and debate, but Pattinson would prefer to leave the psychological heavy lifting to the
audience. “I’m not a post modernist scholar,” he says. Instead he remembers what drew him to the project in the first place — the dialogue.
“I like saying it,” he says. “When I see clips I want to say the lines again. It’s like eating.”
“I started acting when I was three so I was never able to be on a team, and that’s why I suck at skating,” says the Montréal-born actor. “In high school I didn’t really do many sports but I was a ski instructor for a year.”Although he says, “I don’t come from a family who does sports,” he inherited a love of hockey from his grandmother.
“The only person in my family who religiously watched hockey, every single game, was my mom’s mom, who looked like Queen Elizabeth,” he says. “She was super smooth. I never heard her scream or anything. At seven o’clock we’d be in the kitchen and she’d get up and go to the living room to watch hockey. She knew all the names. I actually started watching hockey with her.”
He also played street hockey with the kids on his block—“I was a goalie,” he says. “I’m born in ‘84 so when I was young the big, big star was Patrick Roy. I had my Patrick Roy jersey and my cheap Canadian Tire Patrick Roy mask and had a baseball glove…”—and “at some point I wanted to be on a hockey team like all my friends, and I told my mom and she said, ‘Well, you can, but you have to choose between the two. You can’t do both. It’s too demanding.’ I chose to continue acting, which I think was a good decision.”
He has been in the public eye steadily after making his debut as a toddler in a Minute Maid orange juice commercial but leads a normal life in Montréal.
“I’ve never had a glamorous life,” he says. “People think it is glamorous because they see one day out of the year when there is a red carpet and pictures and they think you are always living a glamorous life, especially when you’re working in Paris. (Where he just finished shooting an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs.) It seems so glamorous but it is actually a dirty city… dirtier than Montréal. A beautiful city, but dirty.”
One regret of his Goon experience was missing the premier at the theatre that stands where the iconic Montréal Forum once played host to 24 Stanley Cup championships.
“Obviously I was really bummed I couldn’t be there, especially because all my friends were all in town. Yeah, it sucked but it’s part of the game. But at least I had a good reason. I was working. It’s not like I was in jail.”
Usually he plays dramatic parts like his best known role, Zac, a young gay man dealing with homophobia in 1960s and 1970s Quebec in the film C.R.A.Z.Y. “I’ve never liked the fact that people think I’m some kind of dark, dramatic character as a person; that I read poetry before I go to bed and shit like that. I am so not like that.”
Goon offered the chance to show his comedic side, and he hopes now people know “that I’m not as serious. Especially on twitter, because I always tweet ridiculous stuff.”“It’s fun, and I loved doing Goon because of that. I loved, when we premiered it at TIFF, how people were comfortable with me. Friendly. When you do a dark dramatic movie people don’t talk to you at all. You’re by yourself all night.”
I meet Mark Ruffalo at a mid-town Toronto hotel to chat about The Avengers not realizing it represented a coming home of sorts for the actor. As we talked about playing the dual role of David Banner and his rage-a-holic alter ego The Hulk I mention one of his first television acting gigs, a guest spot on Due South shot in Hogtown.
“I stayed at this hotel before it was revamped,” he says. “It was pretty low-end back then.”
Judging by the fancy-shmancy Lobster Grilled Cheese on the room service menu the hotel is in better shape these days, and so is Ruffalo’s career. The Oscar nominated actor is about to enjoy his biggest box office stint ever, despite having recently moved his family away from what he calls “the machinery” of Hollywood.
“Sometimes roles reflect where you are in your life,” he says. “This came along and I tried to come up with every reason why I shouldn’t do it, but I was still interested in it.”
He saw a parallel between himself and the character.
“I ran away like Banner. I have this beast that’s inside me that is celebrity and fame.
And this thing I have been on the run from has a tremendous amount of power, which if it is used right could actually have a positive effect in the world. And reach an audience.”
That means making more of the kind of movies Ruffalo specializes in — indie dramas with real characters and situations. In the meantime, however, he has a blockbuster to promote, which involves the drudgery of answering the same questions over and over again.
“The big one,” he says, “which I think has been asked the most is ‘Which superhero power would you have?’ Basically you have a choice between flying and being invisible. Then Scarlett added teleporting, which I thought was a cool one. Now mine is to be able to turn into anything I wanted at any given moment. I could be a river. I could be a cheeseburger with a beautiful girl eating me.”
He doesn’t care much for having to answer those kinds of questions, but would jump at the chance to revisit the Hulk.
“Let’s do Planet Hulk! He won’t let Banner have his body back! There’s this huge existential fight going on. It’s not The Hulk versus the World, it’s the Hulk versus Banner and Banner versus the Hulk inside himself.”
“I suffer very badly from stage fright,” she says.
“I didn’t find it out until I had actually been on stage that that’s what the feeling was.
“It’s literally like having a wall in front of you. You know you have the ability to break through but for some reason you can’t on that day.
“It’s very strange that you can work as much as I do and still have a problem with that.”
She has found a way to circumvent her fears, a method that came in handy while making her newest film A Dangerous Method, the story of the fathers of psychoanalysis, Carl Jung (played by Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (played by Viggo Mortensen), and Sabina Spielrein, the intelligent but troubled patient who causes a falling out between the men.
“I found only in the last few years that research helps,” she says.
“As far as getting over that fear of stage fright I find that preparation is the key.”
To play Spielrein, a woman wracked by tics and repression, Knightley threw herself into the exploration of the character.
“There was nothing that linked me to her,” she says.
“I had no idea about it. So I phoned Christopher Hampton because he did the adaptation of Atonement, which I did a few years ago, and said, ‘I’m going to do this, so help. Just help.’
“I went round to his house and thought he was going to give me a talk for a couple of hours and give me all the answers but he just handed me a pile of books and said, ‘Start reading. It’s all in there.’”
She eased her nerves with the research and further support was supplied during shooting by the film’s director, David Cronenberg.
“Sets… are very difficult creative spaces,” she says, “and trying to get the space so you can use your imagination and get yourself so you are not frightened by however many hundreds of people are on the set is quite a difficult thing.
“What David does is entirely creative. As much as it is technical it is also creative, collaborative and everybody is incredibly respectful of each other.
“He’s a magician. He’s absolutely extraordinary.”
Viggo Mortensen on research
“With David (Cronenberg) I know I’m going to have a good time shooting and the movie is probably going to be really interesting and original. As is the case this time again. A lot of cases with other directors the shoot is maybe fraught with tension and disorder but the research period can always be interesting. I love that.”
His new hobby? Twitter, that one-hundred-and-forty-character microblog has captivated the actor since the release of his last book, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, in April of this year.
“I started for real practical reasons,” he says. “Like trying to say, ‘Hey, I’ll be at a bookstore in Manhattan, come and say hello,’ and then I found it was an interesting way to see a headline and have a feeling about it and make a comment on the Republican debate. I used to call my friends and do these lines.”
He muses on his everyday life, with a comic twist. “Great time in Toronto,” he tweeted about his recent trip to the Toronto International Film Festival. “Great people. If you can make it here you can make it….well, in most parts of Canada.” Short and sardonic, the tweets are worth a read, but their short form goes against his usual style.
“As I said in one of my early tweets, ‘Twitter is turning us all into Bob Hope,” because my whole comedy career was as the anti-Hope. I liked to take seven minutes to tell you something and now I’m back to, ‘Liz looked out the door!’ “My shoes are wet!’ The real test of twitter will be to see if I can ever write in long form again. If it’s killed me, it’s been the devil.”
One thing he’ll certainly be tweeting about this weekend is Drive, the new film he co-stars in with Hollywood it-boy Ryan Gosling.
Unlike his best known roles—like Aaron Altman in Broadcast News or Marlin the clownfish in Finding Nemo—he’s not playing it for laughs this time. In this stylish crime drama he is a shady character named Bernie Rose. In an early scene Gosling declines a handshake from Rose. The younger actor stares at the gesture of friendship for a moment before declining to shake. “My hands are a little dirty,” he says. “So are mine,” replies Rose.
It’s a great scene which tells us that nobody in this movie is above boards and it’s something different for the actor.
“The same twelve people play all the roles,” he says. “Even though you may like an actor, there’s no surprise anymore. When Edward G. Robinson came on-screen you knew what he was going to do. So the fact that [director] Nicolas [Winding Refn] thought this was a good idea worked for everybody. I wanted to try something different. It doesn’t let the audience know one hundred percent just because they see me. As a matter of fact, they might even think something different. It’s always a good thing in movies if you can do that and pull it off.”
His performance is getting great buzz—he even manages to upstage Gosling—and says it is a movie that sticks with you. After seeing it for the first time he couldn’t get it out of his head.
“Both my wife and I, like four days later, said, ‘Are you still thinking about this?’ I don’t know why. I’ve been trying to figure it out. I said to Nicolas, ‘I felt like I’ve had a dream. The movie started and ended and where did I go?’ Nicolas consciously talks about movies like that. He says dreams are 94 minutes in length, and has all sorts of theories, but whatever it is, it sticks there.”
Want to know more about the movie? Check out his twitter feed at @AlbertBrooks.