Sleep Tight - Luis Tosar interview (exclusive)
Interview by Rob Carnevale
SPANISH actor Luis Tosar talks about some of the challenges of making Sleep Tight and getting into the creepy character of Cesar and why he couldn’t relate to his particular inability to find happiness.
He also talks about working with Michael Mann on Miami Vice, teaming up with Robert Duvall for A Night in Old Mexico and recalls the fond memories of playing alongside Jaiver Bardem in Mondays In The Sun.
Q. What did you initially think about the character of Cesar when you read the script?
Luis Tosar: He is such an unusual character because he just doesn’t want anyone to be happy, he feeds off misery and when he encounters someone who is profoundly positive, he goes out of his way to make sure that stops. I pictured myself in that dark mindset and how I’d feel, act and behave and what I’d do to people who I didn’t understand. There’s a playful side to him, and I was incredibly interested in his sadistic game; I was determined to make the viewer feel like he was a victim and surprise them when they realise that he was not who they thought he was.
Q. Could you relate to Cesar’s inability to find happiness in any way?
Luis Tosar: I’d feel pity for someone who could not achieve happiness, but more so if someone did not have the resources to find happiness. Cesar is in an environment where he could find happiness. He does have the resources if he wanted to but he actively chooses not to. I feel less pity for Cesar because of this.
Q. How was working with Jaume Balaguero? Were you a fan of the [REC] movies? How did Jaume challenge you as an actor?
Luis Tosar: Acting is always a challenge and being a part of a film is always a challenge, but in this case it was a pleasure because of the director – it was a lot of fun making the film and the fun that he looked like he was having with it was contagious. So, the challenge was to have as much fun as the director was having with the film.
Q. How was working with Marta Etura and how did you go about shooting some of the more intimate scenes between you? Is it hard not to get the giggles sometimes when you’re filming something so tense?
Luis Tosar: When I am acting, I am usually too focused to laugh but if my colleagues on set laugh I often can’t help but laugh too. There was nothing new about working with Marta, I have worked with her some times before so the scenes were very normal and comfortable despite our characters.
Q. You’ve had such a rich and varied career in Spain and in movies around the world, so what do you look for in a script?
Luis Tosar: I can tell a good script if from the first read I’m transported to another world, or it surprises me or if there is an idea that is new to me or even if it touches me. If none of these things happen then the chances are I won’t be interested in becoming involved in the film.
Q. What was your experience of making Miami Vice with Michael Mann (a movie I love)? Had you been a fan of the show in the ‘80s?
Luis Tosar: I was a fan of Michael Mann beforehand and had seen most of his films. I also loved the original series, so it was a great feeling when the opportunity came up. As a fan, that’s such a great thing!
Q. Mondays In The Sun is one of my favourite Spanish films and it boasts a great cast on top form. How was filming that and did you enjoy working with Javier Bardem?
Luis Tosar: It was a very special experience, not just because I was working with Javier, but because the atmosphere was incredible on set. We all stayed in Vigo, Galicia for four months, which created a great camaraderie across the cast and crew – great friendships were created on that film. But obviously working with Javier was great purely for the fact that I had the chance of working with one of the best actors in the world.
Q. How intense a shoot was Cell 211 and, similarly, how physically demanding was it upon you?
Luis Tosar: Well, there was the element of having to work out more than usual on Cell 211, especially because I was surrounded by people who were bigger than me, but mostly it was a lot of fun. We all had a great time and it felt a bit like we were all just playing childhood games of cops and robbers.
Q. Which directors have pushed you the most and who do you feel you’ve learned the most from?
Luis Tosar: I have learnt a lot from people who are not well known, but if I had to choose somebody that your readers will have heard of I would choose Javier Bardem. He taught me that you have to work really, really hard to play a character well – whether it’s written well or not – you have to know everything about them to succeed in becoming them.
Q. You’ve also recently worked with Robert Duvall and Jeremy Irvine in A Night in Old Mexico. How was working with a veteran like Duvall? Is he someone you’ve always admired? And can you tell us a little about your role in that film as well?
Luis Tosar: It was incredible because it was great to witness how he approached a role and deal with small nuances of the character, which in turn makes a massive difference to the performance. I didn’t get to spend that much time with him, but it was rather like a visit to the master.