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Eragon - Robert Carlyle interview

Robert Carlyle in Eragon

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ERAGON villain Robert Carlyle talks about tackling the make-up, expanding his range and why it’s sometimes difficult being a Scottish actor…

Q. Has your family seen Eragon and how did they react to your scary make-up?
A. They’re too young. My three kids are all under five. But they don’t really understand to be honest with you. Even my eldest daughter, she thinks that I go away and get a photograph. She sees these photographs and stuff like that and says: “You make a photograph daddy.” For this one, she’s like: “Is that you daddy?” But it’s a wee bit too scary for the kids at the moment.

Q. How was the make-up ordeal?
A. That’s hard, that was very hard. It was specialised make-up we did against the blue screen. It took three and a half hours. And then an hour and a half to get off. It was unbelievable. They were just squeezing my face and I also had contact lenses. It’s very difficult when you’re going for a slash! [laughs]

Q. How did the role of Durza compare to your past roles and is there anything left that you’d like to consider?
A. There’s loads of stuff that I’d love to do. I’m always aware of what I’ve previously done and tried to change and move on. I have to say, it’s difficult being a Scot because you do tend to get stereotyped in the things that you do. So I’ve spent my whole career trying to prove that I can do other things, especially something like this which is different to what I’ve done before.

Q. Were you delighted that you only had to go through the make-up once for this film, rather than coming back for the next one?
A. I wouldn’t be so sure about that! The make-up thing, you don’t see it when you get the script. I mean you see it, you think “OK, I’m going to look like this”... But no matter how many films you do, you don’t actually think that it’s going to take three hours every day. You constantly get surprised by it.

Q. Having spent those three and a half hours being made up, how do you conserve your energy as an actor so that you’re wearing the make-up and the make-up isn’t wearing you?
A. Well, one of the most important things on any film set is concentration. Concentration levels have to be very, very high. Combined on a film like this is also your imagination. They both have to be really pumped up. I’ve made mistakes in the past where I’ve been having a laugh in make up and then suddenly it’s gone. So I’m better at that nowadays.

Q. We’ve all been influenced by a movie at an impressionable age. What did you see that perhaps made you want to follow the profession you’re now in?
A. Westerns. I loved The Magnificent Seven. And later on, A Man Called Horse and Jeremiah Johnson.

Q. How do you switch off from playing a role like this?
A. To be honest, these things are easy compared to something that has a lot of social issues, to do with drugs or whatever. It’s hard going home from that world sometimes and stop thinking about it. But with a role like this, you’re putting it on as you’re sitting there. So you’ve got to enjoy it as much as you can and play – that’s what actors are about, playing.

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