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The Proposition - Danny Huston interview

Danny Huston in The Proposition

Interview by Rob Carnevale

Q. All the characters are a bit bad and a bit good, but yours seems to be more bad than good. What’s your take on it?
A: I don’t think he’s that bad. He’s a very lyrical character and has a strong sense of morality. He has a very clear understanding of who his enemies are. If you’re a copper or English, he’ll kill you. If you’re family, he loves you. In a way, the other characters are having to suffer a moral dilemma. Arthur’s morality is pretty straight-forward as far as he’s concerned. I suppose when you play a villain, a character doesn’t necessarily think of himself as villainous. I was very attracted to the kind of man that Arthur is. The environment and that period of time makes for a certain type of man also. In any kind of war, I suppose, people have to get killed.

Q. How important was your Irish heritage for this movie?
A: I started working with a dialect coach briefly in Australia and I realised that my memory of Ireland was more in keeping with the character. They’re more Irish, I suppose, out of Ireland than they are in it, so the longing and desire for Ireland, the music and the poetry is a very romantic quality that the Irish have.
The Barren landscape in Australia, in contrast with a memory of Ireland, immediately creates a kind of pining. And I spent a lot of time in Galway growing up and I just had to think of those times that brought me back to Ireland for Charlie and the character. The accent started to happen naturally.
Guy and I were playing brothers so we had this fun exercise where we’d count together and we’d practice that so we’d sound somewhat alike. Spending time with Guy in this place called the Opal Motor Inn, in Winton, was also very helpful, so just to make those connections was very, very helpful.

Q. How were the flies while shooting?
A: [Laughs] The flies were fantastic! We all have our share of flies, they go in your eyes and up your nose so you have to be very zen about it. But I’m a big believer in shooting a film in its actual location, I just think it helps so much. My father was one of the first Hollywood directors to take a film like The African Queen to the Belgian Congo and those things were unheard of then. It also helped with the violence as well, because when we’re violent we move fast, but not in a way that’s going to use any energy. I think it finally helped the atmosphere.

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