Chatting with Actor Matthew Goode on His Charmingly Evil Role in ‘Stoker’

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English actor Matthew Goode must have an affinity for playing the role of the emotionally and psychologically destructive catalyst. We first fell in love with him in the elegant Brideshead Revisted then Tom Ford’s A Single Man and with his latest role in Park Chan-wook’s fantastical Stoker, we see the darker side of the devilishly handsome Englishman.

In Stoker, Goode plays Charlie, the estranged brother-in-law to Evie (Nicole Kidman) and uncle of India (Mia Wasikowska) who comes to stay with the isolated mother and daughter after the death of his brother. With tales of his world travels, a flair for cooking, and a penchant for gardening, he woos the unstable mother of the house, charming his way into her trust. And although India finds herself reluctant to his friendly advances, she eventually becomes infatuated with him and realizes that the two have more in common than she could have ever anticipated. Goode plays the enigmatic role to perfection, vacillating between innocence and poise and the repressed madness of a villainous spider waiting to bite.

Yesterday, I sat down with Goode to talk about his introduction to the film, taking on such an evil character, and working with the brilliant Director Park.

So I’ve been listening to the film’s soundtrack all week. It’s amazing and plays such an important role in the film. Did you know that the music would be so integral?
I think originally we just knew about Philip Glass. He had written a few of the pieces and I think I was under the illusion he would be doing it all. But I think it’s quite nice sometimes—that’s what happened with Tom [Ford] when he did A Single Man, he used two different composers—to have two different takes. I think it added a lot. And what Clint does is a very different thing.

Well, Clint’s is a character in the movie.
Yes exactly, or many different characters. But it was nice, like some of whistling I did was incorporated into the soundtrack. I was like, wow that sounds quite good!

I loved that it followed you everywhere.
A tune of a lonely man, I love that.

How did you first come into the film?
Well Colin Firth dropped out because he was too busy. He desperately wanted to do it, I know that he loves Director Park, as we all do, but he was very generous and he said, I’d love to be doing it but if it’s anyone it’s you taking it over—which was really nice of him. But it was still a process, it wasn’t offered, so I had a Skype session with Director Park for about an hour and then you know, went through the gamut of auditions and eventually my name just stayed in the hat for as long as it was and I found out a couple months later. It was kind of a long process but thank god it worked out.

What did you think the first time you read the script?
I loved it. I thought it was very different. I couldn’t really put my finger on the sort of genre it would be like and also I knew Director Park’s work from Oldboy so that was very exciting. And I hadn’t worked with Nicole or Mia but had great respect for their work. And the character— particularly his involvement in the story—I just thought was quite fascinating and something I hadn’t done, which is something you always want as an actor, something new to get your teeth into. I was like well, it’s a no brainer.

Were you nervous at about playing this very psychologically dense character?
I’m always nervous. There’s always a first day on set when you’re thinking, oh god I hope I’m not found out. I was always worried about how much are we going to show and luckily, I think Director Park and I were always on the same page of what to try and reveal and what not to reveal and do you want to answer every single question about this guy? But also, you can’t just have a two-dimensional bad guy, you have to try and psychologically make sense, certainly for the actor whose playing it and for the audience, there has to be something there. So I suppose in the sense that this is a coming of age story for India, for Uncle Charlie I felt like it was, not converse to that, but in sense he’s sort of trapped in a childhood state in some ways. All the main characters are so isolated and lonely that you know, as much as the acts Uncle Charlie and India get caught up in are fairly despicable, there is this need and that someone else is like him and he needs to be with them and around them and it’s a comfort to the loneliness.

All of the characters were very pure in their emotion, and acted on everything they felt without remorse for it.
Morally moribund in some ways, you know? They don’t judge themselves, they just do. And it’s sort of animalistic in a way and that idea of nature/nurture and if there’s a predisposition within the family bloodline to commit these acts—which is kind of fascinating. And then you think, who is the prey and who are the predators? And I think within that is that sort of triangle status is which is ever-changing.

How do you prepare to play a character like this who, you have to repress all your knowledge of in order to slowly reveal himself to the audience?
I think that’s always the same for any job that you do, you do all your preparation and then you throw it out the window and commit just to what that scene is about. You’re always jumping around, it’s very rare for you to shoot something narratively—I’ve never done that it would be a real joy actually to go on that journey. So I try not to think about things too much. And this was really rehearsed in a way that I liked rehearsing, not getting it up on its feet too much. It was very much sitting down and reading it rather than trying to block it, because often times you try and rehearse things and you’re not in the environment that you’ll be shooting in and it becomes quite confusing. So we talked about it a lot and whatever scene you’re doing,  you know where your character is on the x/y graph of emotion and the trajectory of your arc, and you go on and do it.

How was working with Mia and Nicole—someone who is such a legendary actress and then this fascinating young women who—
Is going to be.

Exactly.
I don’t think I had any preconceptions. I was slightly nervous meeting Nicole, but the great thing about meeting her is that you just go, oh god you’re so lovely and super professional and super hard-working. She’s quite inspiring really, particularly because I’m a parent now as well and you see someone who is balancing very much their work but also it’s not lost on her that she needs to get home because the kids need feeding; it’s kind of lovely. And she’s a bloody good actress and I thought the combination of all three of us was quite nice. We sort of have the same style. We’re quite good listeners and obviously my character and Mia’s character have a lot in common, so it was lovely working with her. I love her to death, she’s such a sweetheart and she’s quite shy but the more we got to know each other she came out of her shell completely with me. We used to go out a lot because its nice to relax when you’re filming so much and my family was over with me, so we’d often get a babysitter and go down and listen to some country music and hang out in bars. My Mrs. and her would go two-stepping around some honky-tonk bars. She’s such a quality actress though.

Did you spend a lot of time together before shooting, or perhaps there’s the immediacy of not spending a lot of time together because your characters sort of fall into each other and have to grow from there.
I’m sure other directors might have kept us apart until that first day because our characters hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, so they might have thought that was an interesting idea that we’d rehearse separately and then see what happens. But we spent a couple weeks together rehearsing and then went on and did it. I think if we hadn’t know each other beforehand it would have been more of a hindrance than a help. So it was good.

Aesthetically speaking, the film was stunning and so meticulous, everything from the transitions to the colors—
The hair shot? Come on. But India’s hair color is matched to mine actually and she wore contact lenses as well so that our eyes were as similar as they could possibly be because my change color quite a bit. That was tying into the idea the there was this possible pre-disposition in the bloodline, that similarity.

There was a great physicality to your character and the way he interacted with India and Evie, like a waltz between everyone
There is and particularly at the end, and Director Park was talking about this earlier, that final scene is a mirroring of the scene where she says, “But I always lead.” I think really that’s what Mia and I talked about but didn’t rehearse specifically together is the idea of prey and the hunted and the animal and this stealth to the characters, which I’m glad you picked up on.

And of course, I loved the piano scene between you and Mia.
It’s kind of out there!

Well, it was a huge moment in the film. Did you actually play piano?
Oh, I hadn’t played it in 20 years. So I took a lot of rehearsal, had a great teacher, and coming back having not played in so long and playing to a Philip Glass piece was not the easiest—arpeggio crazy!  So it was kind of tough, but we could play like a good 3/5 of the piece and were able to fake the rest by having our hands placed in the right places on the keyboard, not necessarily with the right notes. But it’s nice for the director to be able to lower the camera down and see that we were playing. It was hard because you’re sort of like, you’re doing an action that doesn’t come naturally to you and you’re also having to act at the same time, but I think it paid off really well. I think it’s a really big moment in the film like it’s a big ol’ euphemism for something else. And there’s also the element of, well is it in her imagination? There’s always that extra layer to it.

And it’s the first time it feels very sexual and you can tell she’s changing.
With the feet it’s like a Billy Wilder meets Lynch moment or something.

I loved all of the shots throughout the film of her feet actually and the spider crawling up. And you’re kind of this spider working his way into their lives.
Yes I am! Yes it is, right now! The spider found a home.

So what is the experience like of working with Director Park?
I just adore him. I really do, I think he’s amazing. I love Oldboy from back in the day, so I knew that this is a proper filmmaker with great repute and wonderful respect for his actors and the material. But I think that’s what’s so funny about him, a lot of the films he’s made have such incredible violence but actually he himself is so peaceful and charming and super intelligent and fastidious and exacting. So yeah, there was no problem. We had a translator too so there wasn’t even a problem with communication. It was fairly seamless really and I really zone out listening to him speak Korean, I find it incredibly soothing so he kept us quite relaxed with that on set really.

When you’re playing someone like Uncle Charlie, do you feel like you need to find a way to relate to him? Or do you find a way to get to the core of who he is and just understand more of his motives?
I don’t ask that question to myself but I think there are parts where you go, I don’t have to think about that, I get that. And then there are obviously bits where you have to use your imagination when you’re playing a sociopath but it has to be back up with a kind of psychological truth as well. I give myself quite a hard time as a an actor but not too much on this job, which was good.

Image via Fox Searchlight

Chatting With Nicholas Hoult About Eating Brains and Exhuming the Dead in ‘Warm Bodies’

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It’s impossible not to be charmed by Nicholas Hoult. With his crooked smile and devilishly good looks, the 23-year-old English actor is far cry from the pudgy-faced boy we first fell in love with in 2002’s About a Boy. But what’s remained from the performances of his youth is an actor whose natural talent and passion translates onto the screen in whatever role he takes on—whether he’s playing an all-American sun-kissed representation of youth in Tom Ford’s A Single Man, the Beast in X-Men, or his latest turn as an unusual zombie in Jonathan Levine’s third feature, Warm Bodies.

In the film, Hoult plays R, a member of the dead who cannot remember his name or his life prior and has forgotten how to talk, but falls in love with a girl named Julie after killing and eating her boyfriend’s brains. But how does eating brains translate to love? Well, in Levine’s take on a zombie genre—which is more like an indie romantic comedy wrapped in a post-apocalyptic future—brains are the tastiest morsels of the human body because as you indulge in the cranial delights, you absorb the memories of the person you’re eating. And from the moment R meets Julie, he makes it his mission to protect her and keep her from being eaten by the fellow lifeless creatures who poulate the abandoned airport he occupies. As R and Julie grow closer, his feelings become reminiscent to that of a human’s—their connection setting about a sequence of events that revolutionizes the lifeless world. 

Levine’s film is about the rediscovery of feelings and plays to the desire to connect with those around you, making even the most unrealistic situations relatable with sincere moments and plenty of laughs. Hoult takes on the role of R with humor and creepy tenderness, leaving it difficult not to root for him even as he attacks a helpless Dave Franco. I got the chance to chat with Nick about the purity of acting without speech, a gentle, lazy kind of method acting, and earning your pipe and slippers.

So how did you meet Jonathan and become invovled with the film?
I had heard rumors about the script. I heard a couple of people read it and liked it, and it sent through one of my agents to have a read and I really liked it. I think just quirkiness of it, the fact that it was still very heartfelt and well-written and made me laugh. Plus, I really kind of understood that character and cared about him a lot and thought that I could maybe try and bring him to life. And then I met with Jonathan Levine for dinner and we got along very well.  I was already a big fan of his previous work and thought that he did a great job tredding the fine line of making a funny film that didn’t become a parody or ridiculous, that was still felt slightly realistic even with not necessarily the most be relatable storyline in some respects. And then yeah, I did an audition for him and I guess he liked it enough for him cast me.

How is it auditioning for a film like this when your character has to be very specific but you aren’t really actually verbalizing anything?
Yeah, it was quite tricky. There were days where I sat down and would write notes and kept on reading the scenes and watched stuff. And then there’s also the thing where we were doing the audition at Jonathan’s house and I was suddenly standing here and he’s like, right okay let’s do this first scene and I said, hang on now, what am I going to do? So I loved working on the physical aspects of it and then the vocal thing because my character can’t remember how to talk very well, he just kind of groans. So it was working on that a lot and it sounds silly, but really believing it. The key thing about R is he wants to connect, he’s doing his best to communicate—it’s that feeling of being trapped and trying your hardest even though you can’t really explain what’s going on. 

And as an actor is it a challenge or freeing and nice to be able to work without dialogue and have to reply on other aspects?
Yeah, it’s certainly a challenge but nice because it’s quite pure in may ways— to not be able to babble away and just have to listen and watch the other person you’re acting with and then just kind of react and work with that. Luckily they got a really great cast on this and I could enjoy what they were doing and not have to worry too much about what I was doing.

The challenge of a role like this is getting the audience to find this zombie endearing, which a lot of that is done through the voiceover, but how did you go about trying to make him someone that the audience wanted to connect with?
The voiceover helped a lot and shows a wittier side to him, with his self-depricating kind of humor. He does do some bad things that are against his choosing that he can’t actually control—his need to eat brains and stuff. But I think the thing that Julie—Teresa’s character—sees in him is that he’s trying and it’s the fact that, well it’s quIte simple: everything he does is trying to just keep her safe and protect her. So he’s trying his best in every other aspect and those are every redeeming qualities in any guy. But yeah, I suppose in many ways when a guy meets a girl he likes he can’t talk.

Yeah, that felt relatable like it could be anyone because that sort of natural inability to say what you actually want today and saying something else that doesn’t even make sense.
There’s certainly something there and I’ve certainly felt like before and will again many times I’m sure. So it was quite funny to play a character in that position that literally cannot communicate and has to play records and stuff to slightly explain what’s going on.

And this idea of eating brains as a way to gain other people’s memories and feel human for a moment was a really interesting concept and allowed you to see his desire to feel like a person again.
Yeah, I think that’s one of the very cool concepts they came up with in this film because almost everyone knows that zombies like brains but you never really discuss previously why brains are the best part and that’s nice added addition to this, whereby you get the victim’s memories. And obviously quite early on in the story, it’s a quite unconventional way of getting to know a girl that you might—eating her boyfriend’s brains. And it works well for my character actually, very rewarding.

How was working with Jonathan? He seems like someone who has so much energy and passion as a director.
That’s what’s brilliant about him, it is kind of a tricky role but to have someone who creates a really great atmosphere to work in, it feels very safe and there’s a lot of energy and support and encouragment. But also right from the start, his script that he adapted from the book, it was very clear and it didn’t change a lot. A lot of the time scripts change so much when you’re filming and you kind of get lost in what’s going on and what you’re trying to do, but with this, the script was great from the start. He’s just got a really soft touch and really great way of guiding me because I really have to become more human and alive throughout, so we went through and plotted the key points in the script of when things would effect R and improve his speech or movement or things like that. So he was just a fantastic director to work for. I really enjoyed it.

In preparation for the film did you watch anything specific or read anything?
I read the book, which is a really good read and goes more into R’s headspace and has some interesting things that aren’t in the film as well. And then we sat around and watched most zombie films: The Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and then watched the more recent things, the things that pushed the genre more into the tone that this film in is set in, the more Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. But we also watched like Edward Scissor Hands and things along that line as well because they’re quite relatable in many ways —that kind of outside character being swept up in a story but not fully being able to fit into the world around.

And did you create your own backstory for him?
The brilliant thing about this character, in some respects, is that I didn’t have a lot of dialogue to learn because there wasn’t a lot of talking. But also, he can’t remember his own name or anything about his previous life, so I don’t know, I decided not to make up a backstory for him, which was maybe a lazy decision on my part but I thought, hell, if that’s what he’s trying to remember and trying to figure out the whole time, it won’t actually help me knowing it. Kind of like a really lazy gentle method acting I was doing.

When you saw the film completed, how was it watching yourself?
Yeah, it was odd watching it. I actually prefer watching things when I have to wear a lot of makeup and talk in an accent.

Distancing yourself from yourself?
Yeah, certainly. When you talk in your own voice in a film or look similar to who you look in real life it becomes more difficult to watch. The more differentiated then the easier it is.

You have a really good ability to morph into these different characters whether it’s in X-Men or A Single Man or something like this; do you enjoy that sort of transformative nature of being an actor and being able to be so many different people that are far from yourself?
I really do. It’s always a slight version of yourself or how you feel or what it would be to be in that situation. But there is a thing when you can experience things from a different angle or understand things in a different light and learn from the characters you play, and I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve managed to work with very talented people but mix up the roles and styles of film a lotwhich is great, you kind of learn different things from each job and different sets of people.

This film is one of the first bigger budget films that you’re the center focus on; how does that feel? 
It’s daunting. We actually shot Jack the Giant Slayer just before shooting this and so because I’ve done that previously and that had a bigger budget and was sort of a bigger extravaganza than this film, I was more nervous on that. On this film the budget was smaller and it felt more intimate so I wasn’t as nervous, oddly— even though its a more extreme character and probably a more risky thing to be doing. But when you’re the lead in the film, it’s also your job to set the tone on set and I’ve been fortunate working on other films that the lead actors have always been very nice and set a really nice atmosphere. But yeah, it’s daunting, certainly.

Do you enjoy taking on roles like this and Mad Max that are physically demanding? 
Yeah, I really enjoy the physical side of it. I’ve flung myself around and beat myself up while I’m still young, whilst I can and when I’m older I’ll earn my pipe and slippers and do some quieter roles. But it’s good fun and I enjoy doing the smaller things as well like A Single Man where you can just sit there and do some dialogue scenes and be a lot stille. And then suddenly, next thing I’m running around pretending to kill a giant our driving around in these V8 hot rods in the desert—the sort of things the kid in me is very excited by.

As someone who began acting at such a young age, how has the transition into more mature roles been throughout the years?
It’s been quite organic in many ways, whereby I haven’t latched on and decided this is the type of actor I want to be known as or blah blah. So kind of more going with the flow and working with good people and doing different things. I’ve been fortunate because a lot of people that act as kids, it doesn’t work out an an adult and it still could all go terribly wrong but at the moment I’ve been pretty fortunate to keep working.

You’ve worked with such amazing people from the very beginning; is there something you take away from every experience?
It’s certainly a different experience with every film because each director’s style is so different and each film has such different difficulties to work around. So you do learn, and even outside of that just seeing how people conduct themselves off-set as well. It is a strength and yeah, working with Colin Firth, he gave me great advice about making sure you have really good family and friends support around so when the career’s not going as well they’ll still be there and still love you for who you are as opposed to what you’re doing. 

What was the atmosphere like on set for this film
It was a really fun set to work on and I think that translates onto the screen. I’m a firm believer in when you’re enjoying yourself and having a good time on set that’s when you’re more relaxed and better ideas come up and you get better performances because you are enjoying it. There’s nothing worse than going onto a set nervous because then you freeze up. But on this set, some of the stuff we were doing was very funny—especially the stuff with Rob Corddry. They’ve probably got quite a few hours of footage of me breaking just because people would make me laugh all the time and it was difficult sometimes just to keep in zombie mode. 

And soon you’ll be revisiting your role in X-Men. Is that excitng, to go back and be this character and reenter that world?
I’m a real fanboy on that and getting to play the Beast once was a real pleasure and a treat so to go back and do it again is something I’m really looking forward to.

Stage and Screen Actor Lee Pace Talks Shop

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Lee Pace had me at “Hello.” Or, rather, the film equivalent, which was 2006’s The Fall. Spectacularly strange and visually arresting, that movie made an instant devotee out of me. Though the tall, dark, and handsome actor had been in the biz for a few years prior to this weird and wonderful discovery, I’ve followed the 33-year-old’s trajectory ever since—and re-watched The Fall more than a few times.

Fast forward to 2012, which has been especially packed for Pace, featuring roles in Lincoln, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Indeed, it’s safe to say that he’s had a good year, especially considering all three titles hit theaters (for all intents and purposes) simultaneously. This triple whammy of sorts simply must bode well on the success scale. 

From indie flicks like A Single Man and Ceremony, to blockbuster franchises, this guy’s got that special something that attracts casting directors and keeps crowds captivated. Beyond the big screen, New Yorkers can currently catch Pace as Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini in Terrence McNally’s Golden Age, a play directed by Walter Bobbie with performances through January 13 at Manhattan Theatre Club. Age audiences are granted a backstage pass to listen in and look on, taking in behind-the-scenes goings-on during opening night of Bellini’s last opera, I Puritani, at the ThéâtreItalien in Paris. Part comedy, part drama, the two-and-a-half-hour-long performance paints a living picture of what it might have been like to be there. 

The charming and approachable Pace was sweet enough to take time before taking the stage recently to talk about a few things. From his privileged yet hectic career to memorable moments, from his stance on New York to his “heartthrob” status, Pace provides a refreshingly sincere look at his life. 

So, you’ve had a super busy year…
It has been a busy year. I’m really feeling it now that the year’s coming to an end. These movies came out this past month and now we[’re] doing eight shows a week [for Golden Age]. It’s been a lot of work, so I’ll to be looking forward to a quiet new year. But, it’s been great. It’s good to be busy. There’s nothing I like more than being busy. Good characters to play and good people to work with. There’s been a lot of that this year, so I couldn’t be more grateful.

Is there any reprieve during the holiday?
Theater schedules through the holidays are relentless. I guess I figured we’d still be doing eight shows a week, but it’s tough. There’s so many shows. But, it’s good. It’s a privilege to be able to do the show for people. That people want to come is awesome.  

Given your recent roster, are there any standout moments of 2012?
Shooting scenes with Steven Spielberg in the Congress (sic) [for Lincoln], that was pretty incredible. Big scenes, lots of extras, a couple cameras moving. You really feel like, Wow, I’ll remember this. It kinda doesn’t get better than this. Then, I went to New Zealand to work on The Hobbit for a couple months. To be on those sets, which [were] equally incredible, and to collaborate on and play a character that is the product of so many people’s imaginations—Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and the costume designers—[was] very, very special. 

Any funny stories that you recall?
Funny things happened, but I always forget them. I am such an idiot. 

[Laughs] Okay, any instances on stage where you feel compelled to burst out laughing?
We really like each other a lot. All of the guys [in Golden Age] shar[e] a dressing room. We have so much fun during the half hour, talking. Ethan Phillips is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and he keeps us going all through the half hour, so there are times I’ll look at him on stage and remember a joke he told and I have a hard time not laughing. 

I can imagine. What’s it like portraying a real life character versus a fictional one?
Both Fernando Wood [of Lincoln] and [Bellini of] Golden Age are based on real men. You want to have a certain respect for who they were. You want to find a connection to the real person. Understand them from an actor’s point of view, which is different from a historian’s point of view and different from a writer’s point of view. 

For sure.
In Golden Age, it’s a character. It isn’t a biopic of Bellini. This is a work of art. Terrence McNally is using the character to tell a story. I see it as my job to connect the dots between Terrence and me and Bellini, who wrote this beautiful music. I tried to figure out what it was about him, who he was, the details. There’s so many things that go into making a character.

I bet. Your Bellini also displays distinct mannerisms, tending to twitch and putter a bunch…
[Laughs] Twitch and putter. I’ll remember that tonight when I’m twitching and puttering. [Laughs]

It’s not intended as an insult!
No, he is very twitchy and putter-y. Where I started with my research was listening to the music and really trying to understand that music and believe that that music was coming out of me, that I’d written it. Before I started, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to create something like that, to write music as complicated as this music. Just trying to get myself into that headspace, being backstage listening to it, that’s where I really started working out the physicality and how I moved. It kind of grew from that, so that the nervous energy finds its way into keeping the beat with the opera. He’s not a neurotic man. He’s concerned about how this artistic effort is going to be received by a discerning audience of people that he respects. He wants to do something that will be meaningful to them. It’s all about the music. He takes this opera that he has created extremely seriously. 

As you do your own work…
On the good days! No, I do. When you work with people like Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg, and Peter Jackson, you see how they take it seriously. It’s meaningful. They’re so talented. On set with Steven Spielberg, everyone felt how much that story meant to him, the story of the 16th president. Everyone on that set felt it and [was] inspired by it. And that’s how we all found ourselves on his page, because he’s inspiring. 

Wish I could have been there! So, theater versus film? Is there one you prefer?
They’re very, very different. I can’t say I prefer either one because I love both for different reasons. In film, you have very little time to get it right. And it’s not even about getting it right, because it’s important to let go of that way of thinking about it. You get what you get and move onto the next setup, onto the next scene. On stage, George C. Wolfe, who directed me in [the play] The Normal Heart, called it the actors’ revenge, because you have to step onstage every night and tell the story yourself. You just have to do it yourself. 

In a movie, you turn over your performance to the director and the editors to edit and to layer in sound and everything else that makes the performance emotional or funny or whatever. In theater, you have to land the jokes yourself. You have to understand what’s funny about it. You have to kind of feel the audience. What they’re about on any given night. With a movie, you don’t have that. You can’t do that. In The Hobbit, we can’t feel what the house is going to be like before we do it. 

Of course not. So, onto something still loftier, what’s been the greatest challenge of your career?
If I could name a challenge, it would be laughable compared to the challenges so many other people face. It’s the “funnest” job in the world. I guess the biggest challenge I could say these days is just taking it seriously. When you’re in your thirties, the parts get good for men. You get really interesting characters. That’s what I’ve noticed. Complicated men dealing with complicated things. Seeing that there’s so [much] more to investigate about the way people are, and communicat[ing] those things to an audience, that’s the challenge. You want [the] stories to be good and you want them to be truthful and that’s a challenge. 

Seeing as this is an NYC-centric outlet, where exactly are you based?
I’ve been living here while I do the play. But, I live outside the city now. I live up in the country. It was a new move. I’d lived [in New York City] for a long time, since I was 17. 

How do you like living off-island?
I like it a lot. I love New York City. I’ve spent my adult life in New York City. I have a really complicated relationship with New York City, as every New Yorker does. You can’t go through almost 15 years [here] and not have a complicated relationship with it. Part of that relationship is, I’m going to take a little break and live in the country. [Laughs]

I hear that. Lastly, any thoughts on being considered by some to be heartthrob, a sex symbol?
Oh god no. What does that mean? I have no comment about that. I don’t know what to say about that. It’s news to me. 

Julianne Moore on the De-Gaying of ‘A Single Man’

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Tom Ford’s A Single Man was regrettably shut out of this year’s Oscars, with the exception of a well-deserved nomination for its lead Colin Firth. About a month back, Matthew Goode, the actor who plays Firth’s lover in the film, was cautiously optimistic about its awards future when he spoke to New York at the premiere of Leap Year. “Nominations wise, I think Colin will get one, and I think that Julianne will for Best Supporting,” said Goode. “And I suspect that the screenplay will for Best Adapted. And the cinematography is amazing, and the editing… I think [the film] stands alone, but it doesn’t seem to be getting a push from the Weinsteins too much.” The push the film did get, however, was also the subject of scrutiny. The poster for the film shows Firth’s character and his female best friend Charley (played by Julianne Moore), rather than Goode, whose death in the plot drives the film, which had people wondering, was it necessary to gloss over A Single Man‘s gay storyline in order for the film to make money? And now, in the wake of the Oscar nominations — or lack thereof — is it possible that the de-gaying of the film’s image actually hindered its success? Could the film have been the next Brokeback Mountain? Would that have even been a good thing? We talked to Julianne Moore about this debate a few weeks ago, and she had some impassioned things to say on the matter.

BlackBook: People have been upset over the marketing of A Single Man, specifically that you’re on the poster rather than Matthew Goode, who plays Colin Firth’s love interest. Julianne Moore: There was an initial poster that had a shot of Colin and me lying down together, and Tom was the one who said, “No, I don’t want that poster.” It made A Single Man look like a romantic comedy, which it’s most certainly not. He’s the one who changed that poster.

It’s sad to think that in order for a film to be successful with a wider audience, one needs to consider such things. I simply don’t think that’s true! Look at Brokeback Mountain. I think people consistently underestimate the movie-going public. I think people are much more open and available than we give them credit for.

But Brokeback Mountain was different. It felt like a gay event movie. It did?

A little, in that it was a sweeping epic. It became, in place of a movie about gay cowboys, the gay cowboy movie. In A Single Man, sexuality is important to be sure, but it’s about a relationship rather than a specifically gay relationship. Absolutely. Tom will say that, too. I was talking to somebody at The Advocate recently and he said, “Tom Ford has been saying that it’s not a gay love story.” And I was like, Yeah, that’s because he’s been saying that it’s a universal love story. The minute you start to reduce something by saying, “It’s gay,” or, “It’s straight,” it becomes niche. You ghettoize it by saying that it only belongs in one place. That’s what’s so remarkable about A Single Man. It’s really about love and loss — period.

‘A Single Man”s Confusing Marketing Strategy Reminds Us of College

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Designer Tom Ford’s first feature film, A Single Man, has received nomination after nomination, but the marketing monkeys hired to design its poster, one that will appeal to mainstream America— because I guess it’s important for Joe and Jane Plumber from Heartland America to understand and dig a movie that deals, quite frankly, with The Gays–keep making promotional posters that inadvertently capture any gay individual’s college experience. Just the most boring slice of it.

Case 1: A Single Man where a single man lies beside a single woman and they stare off at the distance thoughtfully. Colin Firth called this poster deceptive, still, from the lack of chemistry, the ennui, it’s clear that the dynamic between Firth and Julianne Moore is nothing more than those awkward wino years of college, where neither you nor your fag hag could bother to leave the house because dating prospects were pretty grim.

Case 2: A Single Man where a single man has half his face chopped off, but still stares off into the distance, thoughtfully, too. Unhappy with the above image, for the book’s new cover, Ford went with this solo image instead, which manages to do away with one of Firth’s eyes, and the whole gay thing. But the new image incidentally reminds us that back in college, gay men also did think. Since then, some of us have even gone onto pursue lines of work that pay us to think. And others of us… have not.

Tom Ford Teams Up with Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, ‘Mad Men’?

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imageIt looks as though Tom Ford will soon be taking a break from reality TV and chips to direct the film adaptation of A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel about a recently widowed gay, middle-aged college professor. The movie will be released by Fade to Black, the production company Ford formed three years ago, says WWD. Filming is expected to start next month in Los Angeles where the story takes place, and so far the film’s roster comes with serious star-wattage. WWD reports Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode are all on board.

Meanwhile (citing a previously published E! Online piece), Wikipedia claims Brit actor Jamie Bell (a.k.a. Billy Elliot) has also signed on, as has “the award-winning team of production designers from AMCs Emmy-award winning series Mad Men.” As an enormous fan of the latter’s inimitable aesthetic, the news seems too good to be true. But if it is, expect the 60s to continue its dominance of fashion trends.
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