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60 Seconds: David Thewlis (2006)

David Thewlis broke into film with a disturbing role in Mike Leigh’s “Naked”. Before that, he worked in TV shows such as “A Bit Of A Do”. He appeared in “Kingdom Of Heaven” and “Basic Instinct 2″, and plays ‘Professor Lupin’ in the ‘Harry Potter’ films. His long-term partner is actress Anna Friel, with whom he has a daughter. His latest film, a remake of “The Omen”, is out now on DVD.

Were you a fan of the original ‘Omen’ films?
Yeah, I was. I’ve been a big fan of all those films. And then, later in life, I became friends with Richard Donner, who directed the original film, and I did a movie with him, not a very good one, called “Timeline”. He became a friend.

Were you nervous about remaking such a classic?
No, I can’t say I was worried or afraid. I’m not one of those people who’s against doing remakes. I thought it was valid to reinterpret it. I actually got a phone call from Richard Donner, the director of the original ‘Omen’ film, about something else entirely and I said: “I’ve got a confession: I’m doing the remakes but he was cool with that.

What did you want to keep from the original?
We wanted the whole film to maintain the power it originally had, although it was a lot easier to shock in those days.

What’s your impression of recent film remakes?
I thought “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” was terrible. I’m a big fan of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, so I don’t know what went wrong with that. I enjoyed “The Manchurian Candidate”, though. That remake really worked.

You’ve covered religion and prophecies before in “Naked”. Are they subjects you’re particularly interested in?
Only from a novelty point of view. I’m not a believer of such things. I read a lot for “Naked” because that was what my character was into, so I immersed myself in it. Some of it crosses over into “The Omen” but that’s just coincidence. There must be hundreds of feet of film of Marlon Brando and me just talking bollocks it was a great pleasure.

You do lots of dark roles. Do you think there’s anything that casting agents see in you that’s dark or oddball-like?
Maybe I’m good at expressing that. I’m often cast as religious figures, good and bad, such as “Kingdom Of Heaven”. In “Seven Years In Tibet”, I played a Buddhist. But I’m not religious at all really. I don’t know what it is. Maybe subconsciously directors have seen me ranting about God and the Devil before in films, like “Naked”. I’m attracted to any roles that are good, really. Usually, if you’re talking about something like that, it makes it a little more interesting, because what you’re talking about has a little more substance. It’s more interesting than just playing a detective, which is quite dull. It’s good to play someone with an agenda or some kind of philosophy, it makes for more interesting dialogue.

Is there a link between dressing up as a child and going on to act?
I don’t think there’s any difference. It’s just like you used to pretend you were a footballer or a soldier or a cowboy. Particularly with the ‘Harry Potter’ films, when you’re running around with a knitting needle in your hand pretending it’s well dangerous. It’s a little bit bizarre. Me and Gary Oldman, when we were doing “Prisoner Of Azkaban”, looked at each other and said: “What the fuck are we doing?” We were running round with knitting needles as if they were Magnums. It did feel like dressing up as kids then.

How’s work going on the next Harry Potter film?
It’s nearly finished actually.

Is it fun to be part of something that has such a massive international following?
I love doing the Harry Potter films. It’s such a big family, everyone knows each other very well and have worked together for so long on these films. The other good thing is you know it’s going to get seen, that it will be in the cinemas. This isn’t always the case with films you make. You know millions of people are going to see it.

Do you think Harry will be killed off in the last book and film?
I think Dan Radcliffe thinks that, but I’m not sure. I can’t imagine JK Rowling killing off Harry.

Are there films you’ve worked on that you thought were rubbish?
Yeah, loads. “The Island Of Dr Moreau” is a prime example. It’s an atrocious bloody film. It was out of control by the time I came on to it, Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer and John Frankenheimer were all at each other’s throats. No one really wanted to make the film and no one really understood what it was about. It was five months of nonsense. It’s a source of a lot of good stories, though. I became very close to Marlon Brando and I can tell my grandchildren that I knew him very well, so I don’t regret it.

What was it like spending time with Marlon Brando?
He had more presence than anyone I’ve met or could imagine meeting. It was strange working with him, though, because we were improvising stuff and he’d get off the subject rapidly and improvise something that had nothing to do with the film at all. There must be hundreds of feet of film of us just talking bollocks. It was a great pleasure to meet him. He was very kind to me.

How do you rate “Basic Instinct 2″ as a film?
I don’t think it really worked as a film. Personally, making it, it was mainly just me and David Morrissey working together. I didn’t have much to do with Sharon Stone, enough said. People asked: “Was she really difficult?” and I said: “To be honest, I didn’t really get to know her.” I had one scene with her and she was perfectly fine. I think the project was a little doomed. It had a lot of baggage attached before it came out. I think the director, Michael Caton-Jones, would forgive me for saying that because I don’t think he thought it worked. But I had a good laugh making it and working with Michael and David, who are great people.

You and Anna don’t tout yourselves around as a celebrity couple. Is that something you’ve deliberately avoided?
Yeah, we don’t go out that much and we try not to do all that business. On the whole, that’s what we both prefer. Or, more often, I’ll just be cropped out of the picture anyway. Obviously, if we’re out and about, we’ll be photographed together but usually they just want a picture of Anna, so you’ll just see my hand.

· Published | 01 November 2006
· Journalist | Gammae Green
· Source | © Metro UK
· Credit | Submitted by Amanda

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