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Perrier's Bounty - Jim Broadbent interview

Perrier's Bounty

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JIM Broadbent talks to us about working on Perrier’s Bounty, tackling the Dublin accent and knocking back the coffee beans.

He also talks about his involvement in the Harry Potter franchise and why he prefers doing smaller films, while also learning something new with each role he takes…

Q. You must have had a huge amount of fun with this character?
Jim Broadbent: I did, yeah. It’s a cracking role. It was irresistible, the script was great and the character was so delicious. The idea of his predicament is very attractive for an actor. Somebody who knows he’s going to die – if he falls asleep, he’ll die, so the character has to stay awake for as long as possible. All that tension sets up the jokes.

Q. How did you get to grips with the Dublin accent?
Jim Broadbent: It’s quite a tricky accent. Mark O’Rowe has actually said it’s the hardest accent in the world! But he’s not in the inner circle of Irish gangsters, so he’s slightly removed from all of that. But it’s fantastic writing from Mark… the Dublin vernacular, which is so rich. But by being a little removed, and from being from a different area, I can justify being not quite on the same page sometimes!

Q. Did you have long to work on the camaraderie that exists between you?
Jim Broadbent: No, we didn’t really, we just kicked off. The three of us [Cillian and Jodie] got on really well from the word go.

Q. How was playing the father and son relationship with Cillian? He joked you could be an annoying dad!
Jim Broadbent: [Looks aghast and smiles] Well, he’s an annoying son. I think we had the right sort of balance of relationship. I was in character and he couldn’t be more annoying – I mean his son’s being chased by gangsters and the last thing he wants is this idiot father coming along and saying he’s dying and wants to get back together with his mum. I might have been a bit method about it all.

Q. How was cracking back the coffee beans? Did you go method and was it coffee?
Jim Broadbent: It wasn’t coffee, no… it was crunched up chocolate biscuits, which isn’t pleasant in itself by the sixth take. They kept sticking to my teeth. The cocaine was glucose, by the way!

Q. You’ve had an incredible career so far. But do you find you still learn something with each new role you do?
Jim Broadbent: Oh yeah. Each film has a different requirement anyway, so you’re always learning something different on every film. This one… you’ve got to pitch it at a certain level to get the comedy and the horror of it as well, so you’re all working together to find that. I’ve never done exactly this mixture of comedy and thriller and violence, so you’re learning all the time.

Q. Brendan Gleeson was saying how proud he was to be part of the Harry Potter legacy and franchise. How does it feel for you, as Horace Slughorn?
Jim Broadbent: Harry Potter was terrific, it’s one of these things that will be seen forever. It’s an absolutely and totally different sort of production. Harry Potter was in its sixth film when I joined, and they had so much money to spend on it – we had five day weeks, short days because you work around kids’ hours and it’s half an hour from London. It’s a really civilised way of working. It’s really pleasant… they do a fantastic job, the producers, because the kids are all great and there’s no sort of brat pack behaviour at all.

Then you get this, which was low budget, very quick and quite long hours… six day weeks. In a way you don’t tell the difference because when you get in, you just have to do the acting, and make it sound as real as possible for the type of film you’re doing. I think if I had to choose to spend my life doing one or the other, I would probably choose the shorter version because you’re in and out quickly, there’s enough money to make it look good but not enough to keep you there for months on end. So, you keep up your interest with these low budget films as the energy stays up there. I really like these types of film.

Q. Are you working with Mike Leigh again?
Jim Broadbent: I did last year and it’s coming out sometime this year – it’s called Another Year. I’ve worked with him so often now. [In] 1979, I did a play with him for the first time, so it’s been 30 years. So, I’m used to it.

Q. Has he mellowed at all over time?
Jim Broadbent: No, why should he? He’s been very consistent with his way of working and he’s stuck to his guns. I think that’s his thing.

Q. What sort of career goals do you set yourself now?
Jim Broadbent: It’s one of those things… once you get an award, you start thinking: “I don’t need to think about career as much…” Or if it’s the right move. You just do things that you want to do. It’s a nice position to be at… as long as they pay you a bit and you get a fair bit of time off.

Q. So, what do you look for first before committing to a project?
Jim Broadbent: If you choose a good script, then the people involved are going to be doing it for all the right reasons. Very rarely have I had… I’ve never come across starry, selfish behaviour. I’ve heard about it but I’ve never actually witnessed it in 50 odd films. Maybe it’s different in America. I’d be surprised if it really is as common as it’s reported. It’s always easy to report and invent bad news but actually, making a film is such a collaborative thing that on the whole, you’ll be embarrassed to behave badly because you’d be holding everyone up! I think it must be a fairly unique occurrence. I don’t like moaning movie stars – there’s no excuse for it, because you’re in such a good position. They should just shut up!

Q. What’s the most pleasing or surprising reaction you’ve had to Perrier’s Bounty?
Jim Broadbent: At the screening in Dublin, it got some huge big laughs. You just don’t know where it’s going to come from. There was the right sort of amusement and laughter at the disgust. But there’s a lot of vernaculars, some of which went over my head, but that just makes it richer. It’s treating the audience as grown-ups, without spelling it all out, and not treating them like the lowest common denominator. They’re expected to keep up with it, which is nicer.

Read our review of Perrier’s Bounty

Read our interview with Brendan Gleeson