a “new” interview
(For those of you without a subscription to the Times)
The Times, 16 March 2013.
At 32, he has done Shakespeare, Keats, BBC drama and Bond - but Ben Whishaw is still poster boy for the shy. He tells Andrew Billen about fans, hair cuts and taking the West End stage with Dame Judi.
Pedants quibbled over the authenticity of Abi Morgan’s The Hour, BBC Two’s drama about the birth of current affairs television in the Fifties, but one thing the production got so right was Ben Whishaw’s hair. Whishaw played Freddie Lyon, a trouble-making journalist who was a spit for the young Charles Wheeler, the corporation’s great, feisty former Washington correspondent whose hair piled in layers on top of his forehead, adding intimidating inches to a slight man’s height. Freddie Lyon’s hair was a similarly magnificent confection: an epic in Bakelite black, a Brylcreemed token of the ego that powered the integrity.
Video interviews from UK premiere of Cloud Atlas. Interview with Ben starts around 3m27 secs. Does a great goofy laugh at the end of his segment.
[EIC: Thanks for submitting, revstan! Haven’t gotten around to posting all the stuff I’ve bookmarked aside lately….]
“He did give me a little bit of a squeeze when we were in bed together, which was slightly terrifying.”
A nice new interview with photos over at The Daily Mail.
“Of course, that’s what everyone always thinks about Mr Whishaw: reluctant, fame-weary, bookish, and unfathomably thespian. Well, we’re all spectacularly wrong. (Mostly wrong anyway; he is very thespian. And quite bookish.)”
New photoshoot/interview at Mr. Porter. *sigh*
Because interviews between these two will never get old.
HOW DID YOUR ROLE IN SKYFALL COME ABOUT?
Sam Mendes (director) actually just called and asked to have a meeting. We were going to do a play together a year or so before and that hadn’t worked out, so it was lovely to hear from him again – you never know if you’ve offended people when things don’t turn out, so it was a massive surprise but lovely.
DID YOU HAVE ANY HESITATION OF TAKING IT?
No…not at all actually. It was entirely unex- pected, I never could have imagined that I would be doing it - Q is such an iconic char- acter. Also, now all of the Fleming novels have been exhausted, it’s like a new era…
YOU’RE ALSO STARRING IN CLOUD ATLAS, A FILM SHROUDED IN SECRECY…
Yes, I’m very intrigued to see it because it’s a brilliant book. It’s six different stories, and the idea in the book is that the central charac- ter in each story is the same soul reborn in different periods. So what Tom (Tykwer, director), Andy and Lana (Wachowski, writers) decided when they were making the adaptation was that every actor would play multiple roles; so most of us have one lead role that we do, and then we pop in different time periods as other souls. Everyone is reborn throughout. It’s complex. I think it’s going to be a really interesting film.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE ACTING OVER ANYTHING ELSE?
It’s one of those things where there was no choice really. You either want to do it, and you find yourself doing it - it overtakes you - or it doesn’t. It’s just an undeniable thing – a fact. It’s not a choice in a way. I just love it, and the most important thing in life is to love what you do.
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT WHEN YOU STARTED, WHERE DID YOU THINK YOUR CAREER WOULD GO?
God, I remember when I first realised what you had to do to become an actor. All I wanted was to get into a drama school and study and beyond that I had no idea. I didn’t grow up knowing actors - it wasn’t an accessible thing. It didn’t really seem like a possibility in a way - it was just a dream. I just thought getting into a drama school would be enough (laughs).
WHAT CHARACTERS DO YOU FIND THE MOST FULFILLING?
I think every role is interesting because you’re basically trying to understand another person, you’re trying to get inside them and see the world through their eyes - it’s fascinating. I love beautiful writing. It’s wonderful when you receive a script that’s beautifully written, and you think, “Oh my goodness! I could never have thought of that!” You’re fascinated by someone’s perspective - you would never have thought of that or would never have said that. It’s great to be challenged in that way. I’d like to do many different things. It’s sometimes hard to persuade people to look at you in another way because actors can do anything really, but the world likes to categorise you and put you into a box.
WHAT IS YOUR BIG AMBITION?
I suppose my biggest ambition for myself is to work in the way that I dream of, to work in a company of actors long-term. Either in theatre or film or some collective where we know each other and we’re driven purely by artistic desires, rather than commercial ones. I’d love to be more proactive in bringing people together and doing things with people I respect. I’ve been going to see the Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal at Sadler’s Wells. They’re here for a whole season of performances, and it’s been so amazing to see a company that has worked together for years and years – some of them for 30, 40 years. The quality of the work is so different. You can’t describe it – it’s special.
DO YOU THINK EVERYTHING IS TOO DRIVEN BY MONEY AND COMMERCIALITY?
I think it is a bit. I feel that sometimes in this country, compared with other European countries, the way we treat the arts is very… Maybe it’s a hangover from Thatcher, or maybe it’s because we’re enthralled to America, I don’t know, but I feel that in Germany, whenever I’ve been there, they have a respect for art. They don’t have to smirk about it or sneer. They say it really simply and with love. They appreciate great art, whereas we have to play it down - “you mustn’t get above yourself”. And I think that’s a shame. I think we are a little bit confused about those things. I mean some things can be great art and great entertainment and be commercially successful. They’re not mutually exclusive things, and sometimes that happens. But when [commercial success] happens at the exclusion of all things…it’s a shame.
WHO IS YOUR IDOL?
It’s quite a long list… So many things influence me. One of my favourite actors of all time is Gena Rowlands. She was married to a director called John Cassavetes who was sort of the first independent film-maker. If you haven’t seen any of her films with Cassavetes, you must! She’s completely tremendous, and she’s not really recognised - she’s a bit undiscovered. Music really inspires me too. I’m completely obsessed with a singer-song- writer called Sandy Denny. She died in the late 70s. I’ve been listening to her a lot recently. She had the most incredible voice.
Ben Whishaw talks The Hour at BBC America.
You heard him, guys. You HAVE TO see Cloud Atlas. Consider it an obligation.
For those of you not willing to watch all 2 1/2 hours of the London Skyfall premiere, here’s Ben’s interview from the mainstage at the event. I held off on posting it for so long, mainly because it makes me so cringy. He’s obviously quite nervous…
I feel you, Ben.