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Interview from the Set of “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”

I visit David Thewlis in his trailer, he’s writing something on his laptop. He closes it quickly.

His trailer is full of strange, colorful pegs, he spins one of them on the table. “My daughter visited me a few days ago, she’s two, we celebrated her birthday. If you could see my hotel room! It’s full of balloons! This is a great day, a bit easier. We had very difficult scenes earlier, it’s a hard subject, dangerous. Fortunately the atmosphere is a bit lighter now, so we have fun in the breaks. We got on very well immediately whit the kids and Vera (Farmiga), we’re really like a family. We laugh a lot. You shouldn’t be upset all the time just because it’s a serious film.”

Thewlis did research: he delved deep into the life of the Nazi officers, commanders. “I tried to find something about the people who did these jobs, especially Rudolf Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp. After he was captured, between his trial and his execution, he wrote an autobiography, which has a good style, but very insincere, actually. He tries to explain his deeds and finds excuses for his crimes, but interestingly, it turns out at the end, he did not regret what he had done. He repeats, he followed orders, and in the army you don’t even think of refusing to obey your superiors, but he didn’t convince me, I don’t believe him. He had four children. He brought them up inside the walls of the concentration camp, and their house was even closer to the crematory than in our film… So this man wrote a letter to his children before the execution, a touching, upsetting letter, full of love, a letter to the descendants from a father condemned to death. I didn’t want to do stereotypes, but it would have been hard to do so in this case: this character is a lovable father and a monster at the same time, who is responsible of the death of many, a lot of children among them.

When I act, I try to find a sample of my own life, someone who I know personally, whose characteristics I can copy for the role I play, but this time it’s very hard. Although I know two men, who had committed murder, two gangsters working in the sixties, but they’re very far from this kind of mass-murderer, like my commandant. It’s a hard film, a very difficult job.

Then I’ll do something called “The Street”, and then comes the next Harry Potter, where I play a professor, but that won’t be half as much exhausting, as this. And there’s something else: I wrote a book, I’ve just finished, and it comes out in September. It’s a novel. Exiting. I wonder what kind of reception it will receive.”

· Published | August 2007
· Journalist | Unknown (Translated by Helia)
· Source | © Origo
· Credit | Submitted by Helia

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