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Anonymous - David Thewlis and Jamie Campbell Bower interview


Interview by Rob Carnevale

DAVID Thewlis and Jamie Campbell Bower talk about some of the controversy surrounding Roland Emmerich’s Shakespeare epic Anonymous and some of the research they did. They were speaking at a press conference held during the London Film Festival.

Q. How did you research your part – the villain of the piece, so to speak?
David Thewlis: I didn’t research it at all. I don’t really know much about what this film’s about. I haven’t seen it and I didn’t read it. I thought it was about computer hacking, so I was a bit disappointed. I’m going to see it tonight [laughs]. No, of course it was one of those things where we all did lots of research. It was one of those greats films where you can do an immense amount of research because there’s so much written on both sides. I went to see Rhys [Ifans] just before and he’d mistakenly bought the wrong book! Unfortunately, my research was to read a very dry piece of academia called The Cecil Dynasty, which wasn’t very interesting at all and I don’t recommend it to anyone! But it’s always great fun to play a villain.

Q. And Jamie, how was it for you working in such esteemed company? Were you at all daunted?
Jamie Campbell Bower: It’s terrifying… an absolutely terrifying prospect working with people who you’ve admired for so long. But also incredibly exhilarating and I feel honoured to be a part of this and to sort of learn from the best. I suppose for me that’s what the job is about – to learn from people who I hold in such admiration.

Q As a young actor, were you ever nervous about taking part in a movie that was debunking Shakespeare to a degree?
Jamie Campbell Bower: I’m nervous about taking part in any movie!

Q. How was playing the younger Rhys for you?
Jamie Campbell Bower: Goodness! It was interesting because we didn’t do a lot of preparation together so much and I think that’s a testament to the casting and a testament to Roland’s vision in the fact that Rhys and I have discovered that we’re fairly similar, so someone must have seen that fairly early on. Joely and Vanessa have said throughout this whole press tour that you’re not the same person you are when you’re in your late teens to where you are when you’re in your 50s, but what’s fantastic about this film and the way that John Orloff has written it is that you can see the character development and you can see the arc, and I think that really is very key to having two people play the same character.

Q. Did you have any apprehension about upsetting Shakespeare purists when you first read the script?
Jamie Campbell Bower:* Well, I’d heard of this theory beforehand and I was interested to discover more about it and what Roland has given myself and I think all of us is a broader understanding and an education into this theory and into who these people were. I wasn’t nervous about doing it because of that, I was inspired because of that.

David Thewlis: Quite the opposite, I didn’t have any apprehension, I just relished the idea of being involved in something that possibly could kick up this amount of fuss. And there is an awful lot amount of fuss right now. On the BBC website today they’ve covered up the statue of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, if it is the statue of Shakespeare, which it’s probably not (!). But it’s just fascinating. It wasn’t a pre-requisite of getting the part that we all had to subscribe to this and go out into the world and talk about the validity of Oxford writing the plays.

Personally, I have a very open mind about it and I don’t really know what I feel either way. I think it’s quite fun to think about it, as it would be if we thought that Prince Edward was the author of the Ken Loach films or Princess Beatrice and Jenny were the new Coen brothers! I think really the film should be enjoyed and we shouldn’t get too serious about what it all means. So, I relish this debate.

Read our review of Anonymous

Read our interview with Rafe Spall