Follow Us on Twitter

Watchmen - Matthew Goode interview

Matthew Goode in Watchmen

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MATTHEW Goode, the British star of Brideshead Revisited and Woody Allen’s Match Point, talks to us about playing Ozymandias in Watchmen and what his appearance in such a blockbuster may mean for his career.

He also reveals why his brother took a perverse delight in giving him a hard time about his character, and why a knee operation was one of the few keepsakes he took from the shoot…

Q. How did you feel about landing the role of the extremely pivotal character of Ozymandias?
Matthew Goode: I had a certain amount of trepidation. I think I would have messed up the whole casting process if I hadn’t just been sent two scenes and been told to put them onto tape. I got cast off just doing that. Normally, it’s a procedure that takes months and months and requires meetings and re-readings and then hopefully the star drops out and you get the part [laughs]. With this, it was a different process. I would have messed up the audition because when I finally got to read the material it’s incredibly sophisticated. I felt slightly snobby about the genre. My pre-conceived notion of the comic book world had been: “Oh, that’s nothing that I need to worry about!” But then again, you see how Ozymandias is drawn and my main considerations were, he’s wearing a skirt and also he’s massive!

I knew when I received the start date for filming that I wouldn’t have time to bulk up. Charles Ryder [the character he played in Brideshead Revisited] isn’t exactly supposed to be a man mountain! Well, maybe in Sebastian’s mind. So, I knew that I was going to come in for some stick and I suppose rightly so because it is hallowed turf and this material has been waiting to be made into a film for a good 20 odd years. So, there was a bit of pressure. In fact, my brother took great pleasure, in fact, in saying to me on the first day of filming: “I just checked it out online and no one likes your casting and they’re very worried you’re going to ruin the movie!” I told him: “I’ll speak to you in six months.”

Q. What did you make of your character and his story arc?
Matthew Goode: I didn’t know what to make of him at first because the two scenes I had… one was at the beginning of the movie and the other was at the end, so I was like: “That seems like quite a journey!” But that’s the great thing that Alan Moore did, though… he subverted the genre and was basically saying that people who dress up in costumes and go out and fight as vigilantes at night-time might be more sociopathic than the actual people they’re putting in jail.

Q. Is it more difficult to play a character like this, in motion capture or in costume, rather than a regular person in a movie?
Matthew Goode: I think it’s always elaborate dress up whatever you’re doing. I think, to some extent, the question was, is an evil genius going to be quite calm? When you’re the most intelligent man in the world are you going to be quite matter of fact, rather than [puts on an evil laugh] ha ha ha!? People may be upset I didn’t go that way with it.

Q. Do you feel pressure to please not only the fans but also viewers who may not have read the comic books?
Matthew Goode: I think there’s an element where some would say that the alterations in the script, and the fact we don’t now have a giant vaginal monster as part of the scenario towards the end, was a change that was made in consideration for an audience that isn’t up to speed with the original material. It actually works out particularly well. I know people that have pre-conceived notions that the new ending isn’t going to work. But I think it makes sense. And I think one of the things that Zack [Snyder, director] was very clever in doing early on is the sequence where Bob Dylan comes on and he suddenly re-tells American history and takes you into this alternate ’80s reality, where Nixon is serving his fifth term and we’re on the verge of nuclear holocaust. Just in five minutes, that helps people who aren’t necessarily knowledgeable of the original material.

Q. You’ve worked with Woody Allen, who is a veteran, whereas Zack Snyder is a young buck who is fast emerging. Was it a very different experience?
Matthew Goode: I found Woody to have quite a lot of energy at times. He’s pretty animated and sometimes they share a slight thread in that they both let you get on with your character work and don’t delve into that. Obviously, Woody doesn’t work with special effects as much as he used to and the pressure of the $100 million movie isn’t something you get with Woody. But Zack is full of beans. I’ve never seen someone with so much enthusiasm. He’s a kind of shock absorber for the pressure you know is there from the fan readership. But he always had time for you and always had time for his family. He’s got six kids as well.

Q. Did you take anything from the film as a keep-sake?
Matthew Goode: Just an awkward operation on my knee because I slipped my miniscus doing a stunt which kind of hurt for a while. I’ve also got Billy Crudup on speed dial… and some good times and a bunch of new friends, really. I didn’t feel the need to steal anything. I didn’t take the jock strap. It was pretty used.

Q. Did you do a lot of your stunt-work?
Matthew Goode: Well, I came to it quite late, so the first fight scene features a lot of my stunt double. So, to shatter the myth of action films we do have stunt doubles and they are incredibly good. If we didn’t have them, then these scenes wouldn’t be as good. I did as much as I could, but it’s intercut with my God-like teacher, Richard.

Q. What does being in Watchmen mean for your career?
Matthew Goode: Only time will tell. I think that might be the death knell that I hear now! But let’s be honest, for someone who is probably better known in America than he is in his own country, it will hopefully allow me to grow. It’s just something different and I’ve been very lucky over the last few jobs to do something slightly different each time. Hopefully, it will mean that I can continue to do that.

Q. Are you doing a film with Amy Adams next?
Matthew Goode: Yes! The lovely Amy Adams. We’re off to Ireland… hence the beard growth. Hopefully, if I can’t muster the accent, I can at least look like a grouchy Irish publican [for Leap Year].

Read our review of Watchmen

Read our interview with Jeffrey Dean Morgan