David on F****** Brando Film (2008)
Actor David Thewlis, 45, first came to fame in Mike Leigh’s grim 1993 work “Naked”. He’s gone on to play werewolf ‘Remus Lupin’ in the Harry Potter films and can be seen as a Nazi concentration camp commandant in “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas”, which is out today. He grew up in Blackpool and now lives in Los Angeles with his actress partner Anna Friel.
What were the ups and downs of playing a Nazi?
Trying to understand someone who was impossible to comprehend was a real challenge. It was difficult to get my head around his motivation. I usually base my performances on people I’ve met, which was impossible playing a monster such as this. I did a lot of research to familiarise myself with the period.
It’s a child’s view of living on a Nazi concentration camp. Were you worried a film like that could seem to be in very bad taste?
Yes, it could have been done badly. I love the finished product, I’ve seen it three times and I’m moved by it each time. It’s not heart-warming, it’s miserable and grim. People are left sitting there in stunned silence. I’m very proud of it. I can’t imagine people watching it on their first date and having a nice meal afterwards.
When was the last time you saw “Naked”, the film that gave you your big break?
About ten years ago. It’s not the sort of thing I sit down and watch on a regular basis. I don’t do that with many things. It’s always with me – it’s responsible for what happened with my career afterwards.
Is there an expectation you should only do worthy, arty stuff after a film like that?
I’m proud to have done a film like “Naked”, which has gone down in cinema history. It opened lots of doors for me. It’s hard to get into movies at the level I’m at without a strong beginning. Mike Leigh said recently that “the tragedy of David is he’s never had a part like that again”, which I found a bit offensive. I’ve had a nice time since then, actually.
Doing a performance like that every year would send you a bit mental, wouldn’t it?
Exactly, and I don’t want to get stuck in a rut of doing one thing. You want variety as an actor.
How is the Harry Potter franchise going?
There are another two movies to go but I’m not really involved in it. I’m not in the last films much. It’s a week’s work here and there. I’m not constantly thinking of Harry Potter.
What do you miss about Britain?
You can’t get smoked mackerel in LA and the bacon tastes terrible. I don’t know what they do with their pigs here, but you can’t get decent bacon.
You’re in the film adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s “Veronika Decides To Die”. Are you New Agey?
It was a two-week job. I like my role, I play a psychiatrist, but I’m not into New Age. I don’t read his books either, he’s not my cup of tea.
What’s been your worst experience making a film?
“The Island Of Dr Moreau” [the 1996 film with Marlon Brando] was a difficult movie. I’ve been talking about it a lot recently so people must be thinking “he’s always complaining about that f***ing Dr Moreau”, but it’s the only bad experience I’ve had.
What’s the best thing about coming from Blackpool?
I grew up in a toy shop next door to a sweet shop by the Pleasure Beach – it was idyllic. It’s all light bulbs and temporary facades in LA, which is the same as Blackpool.
What’s been your most extravagant purchase?
Paintings. I spend too much money on art, especially early European portraiture. We need some more wall space in our house in LA. I’ve got lots of space in London – I own a converted Victorian ballroom – but it’s no good there as I live in the US.
Have you ever won anything?
I won 24 cans of Coca-Cola as a child by answering some questions about Coke in a newspaper. It was the sort of information you’d get off Wikipedia in two minutes these days, but back then, I had to go through the ‘Guinness Book Of Records’. I remember them arriving in our porch. I was very excited. I haven’t entered another competition since.
· Published | 11 September 2008
· Journalist | Andrew Williams
· Source | © Metro (UK)
· Credit | Submitted by Amanda