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V For Vendetta - Stephen Rea/John Hurt interview

Stephen Rea in V For Vendetta

Interview by Rob Carnevale

Stephen Rea

Q. What, if anything, debate-wise are you hoping this movie will create?
A. I’d like to think that a lot of people in government would see it and have a little thought about what extreme government can do to citizens. What sort of position it can force the individual to be in. There is also a wonderful debate in it about the very nature of terrorism and what it does to you – the kind of person you become when you start responding to a tyrannical government. It’s the kind of debate that people have been having where I come from.

Q. How surprised were you by the political content in the script when you first got it?
A. Obviously you’re surprised to get a script that’s as intelligent and well-realised and is actually an intervention into something that we’re living through. So for any actor, that’s a dream. When James showed me the script, I couldn’t believe my luck really.

Q. V has his Shadow Gallery in which he stores national treasures. If you could have your own Shadow Gallery, what would you store?
A. Ullyses, by James Joyce. That’s been censored as well.

John Hurt

Q. Having been a victim of big brother 20 years ago1984, did you enjoy playing big brother in this film?
A. It’s something that actually hadn’t occurred to me until it was brought up [laughs]. But the glory of being an actor is that one is not Winston Smith and one is not, thank God, the self-made Chancellor of Fascist England. The glory of it is to be able to play both sides of the coin and I have to say I had a lot of fun doing both.

Q. How surprised were you by the political content in the script when you first got it?
A. One could hardly be surprised by the political content because it was there in the script. One might have questioned – and indeed did – how on earth were they going to be able to produce and put this out? But the fact is that it’s been made into a physical existence and handled, it seems to me, pretty well.

Q. Did you look at any footage of any dictators of the past few years for anyone that particularly impressed or depressed you?
A. Obviously, I have in the memory bank quite a bit of our friend from Germany and Mussolini and so on. But I didn’t try to base it on anybody specific because whether it be fact or fiction, it didn’t make any difference, I was still working from the imagination. I didn’t want to become one of those dictators. If there were five dictators, I’d like to be the sixth. So that’s what I tried to do.

Q. V has his Shadow Gallery in which he stores national treasures. If you could have your own Shadow Gallery, what would you store?
A. Difficult. I think the Turners from the Tate.

Q. What was it that appealed to you about the role and why did you decide to take it?
A. Having played so many victims over my life, it was rather an enjoyable difference to be able to behave life The Eldest and tell everybody what to do. Also it was just one more death in the gallery of my deaths!

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