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28 Weeks Later - Robert Carlyle interview

Robert Carlyle in 28 Weeks Later

Compiled by Jack Foley

ROBERT Carlyle talks about appearing in horror sequel 28 Weeks Later, how he would categorise it in terms of genre and filming some of the tougher sequences…

The actor also talks about coping with wearing red contact lenses and some of his future projects, including rumours of a Trainspotting sequel…

Q. What appealed to you about 28 Weeks Later?
Robert Carlyle: The first thing that struck me was the source. Obviously, I’ve known Andrew [Macdonald, producer] and Danny [Boyle] for years and there’s no way they would throw out a sequel just for the sake of throwing out a sequel. So, there had to be something in that. When I read the script, I loved the two major decisions that Don has to make; that’s gold dust for an actor those moments. You know that’s what the audience will go home and talk about, especially couples – would you stay or would you run away?

Q. Was it strange coming into a sequel where the only returning character was the premise?
Robert Carlyle: Well, I think that’s a good thing in a sense because the film can stand on its own. In actual fact, as you see, this one starts 15 days later, a little bit before the first film. I think if you enjoyed the first film you’ll certainly enjoy this one for sure. But if you haven’t seen it, I don’t think it matters.

Q. How would you categorise the film – zombie film, thriller film, horror film?
Robert Carlyle: It’s a horror film, I guess. It’s got lots of different elements. It’s a thriller-type horror, I suppose.

Q. 99 per cent of the audience would call it a zombie film – is that a negative thing?
Robert Carlyle: I don’t know but people seem to get upset about that. My understanding of zombie movies is people rising from the dead, from their graves, stuff like that, and walking very slowly. These f***ers don’t do that. That’s why it’s not a zombie movie I suppose. But I wouldn’t argue the point.

Q. The transformation sequence that follows you kissing your wife kind of points out how love and hate are the same coin, with different sides. Is that fair to say?
Robert Carlyle: Yeah, the scariest moment in the film for me was the moment when he confronts his wife for the second time.

Q. How hard was filming that sequence?
Robert Carlyle: That was pretty disturbing that, actually, because the dummy was so like Catherine [McCormack]. It was like she was lying there. We’re good friends, Catherine and I, so it was kind of a strange thing on the set when people made jokes and slapped it. That moment was left up to me, from the kiss to the rest of it. It was: “Do what you want to do Bobby.” So the eye gauging thing came from me but looking back, it’s disgusting.

Q. How did you get into the mood for the scene?
Robert Carlyle: That sequence was probably four or five hours to do. And I had a headache for two days afterwards from smashing my head. There’s no direction, it’s do what you want. All it says in the script is, “Don transforms”. It’s like saying, “and the cavalry comes over the hill…”, it’s one of those moments that could be anything. So, all those things, those moments, were built up over four or five hours.

I suppose the rage element, we all have it in us, all of us. In most walks of life you have to bury it. For an actor you can throw that out, you have the space to let that energy go. It’s a very cathartic experience. I think it’s in you, I’ve always believed that as an actor anything you’re asked to do is within you. You just have to try and find it.

Q. How was the make-up and wearing the red contact lens?
Robert Carlyle: That was the worst part of it, that was terrible. It’s like having a fist in your eye. The trouble with these things when you’re working with them on film is the studio is very hot and they stick to your eyes, and you have to use constant drops to make sure that doesn’t happen. In Eragon a couple of years ago, I scratched my eye and it’s a bit of a problem. I can’t keep them in too long. But the whole process probably took an hour and a half to get all that on.

Q. There are persistent rumours about a Trainspotting sequel… Would you be interested?
Robert Carlyle: I would do it tomorrow. Danny’s a lovely guy, a brilliant director and a lovely man. I love Danny to bits.

Q. What about the Irvine Welsh written film, The Meat Trade. What’s happening with that?
Robert Carlyle: It’s going into production in the autumn. He’s had it for a couple of years. Are you familiar with Burke and Hare? The two immigrants in the 1860s in Edinburgh who were infamous for body snatching? They started off with people who’d been hung and they’d take the bodies to Edinburgh University for dissection. But they got sloppier and sloppier and eventually what they were doing was digging up bodies of people that had been buried and eventually killed people themselves. I think they killed 32 or 33 people. This is a modern day take on that. The element that’s interesting is about kidney transplants. Colin Firth will play the head of an organ clinic in Edinburgh. My guy is the Burke and Hare guy.

Q. What else do you have coming up next?
Robert Carlyle: I don’t think I’ve got too much ahead. I’ve never been good at accepting jobs six months down the line. I can’t do it. If I’m thinking about this, I can’t think about that. So I always seem to fly by the seat of my pants.

Q. Are there any regrets about things you didn’t do?
Robert Carlyle: No, there’s always going to be stuff that clashes with other projects. I suppose there are a couple but it’s unfair to talk about them.

Q. Is there a fluffy comedy in there somewhere?
Robert Carlyle: Not a comedy so much but definitely a little script I hope to make if there’s any time left this year. It’s called The Last Summer and it’s about two guys who’ve been in remedial class as kids who are in their 40s now. It’s a very simple love story about one man’s love for another man.

Q. Will there be an Eragon sequel?
Robert Carlyle: They’ve been talking about that, but it’s early days.

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