Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. So The Bourne Supremacy is this week's Brian Cox film?
A. I've heard those cracks before. I don't understand
it. I just work. I don't think I'm overly busy; I'm just earning
a crust, as they say. I've got three films coming out this year,
but I haven't made one since The Bourne Supremacy.
I am doing the new Woody Allen film, in London, now though. It's
set in contemporary upper-crust London, which I find ironic: a
wee boy from Dundee playing a toff. I suppose I can say that it's
one of his moral fables.
I think it's a really good script. He's very strict about giving
out the scripts, which I can understand, because he is a major
writer. You read it and then someone comes and takes it away.
Q. You do seem to be doing well since you came to Hollywood?
A. It is good. I am lucky because I didn't really start
making movies until I was almost 50. I had been in films before,
but I got to a point, around 1995, where I thought, 'I need to
do something different'. So I came to LA and sat around a pool
for six weeks, then went back to London and suddenly all these
films started to come in.
I got The Long Kiss Goodnight at short notice, and then Chain
Reaction and then I realised, 'there's a shift happening here',
so I decided to move to LA.
Q. So you're a spontaneous person?
A. I suppose I am. But it was an exciting time. You don't
often get that window of opportunity at my age. But I think it's
healthy to re-invent yourself, especially in this business. I
was also at an age where I didn't take it so seriously. I think
when you're a young actor, on the make, there's more pressure.
I've been through that and it wasn't very pleasant, I didn't like
that aspect. As I've got older, I enjoy the work more. I've made
cult-type films like Rushmore and Adaptation,
as well as blockbusters like Troy
and X-Men, so I've been very
fortunate. I have an artistic element and movies that have made
a lot of money.
Q. So you don't mind doing the big studio movies?
A. Oh no. You have to subsidise yourself and I enjoy
it all. I think it's sad that a lot of actors don't like what
they do. I was very sad when Marlon Brando passed away, because
he was so unhappy and cynical about the whole process of being
But if you set the bar so high when you're so young for a whole
generation.....He was the greatest screen actor of all time, I
think. But he developed this mask of fat over the years, because
of his own self-loathing. I think somebody should have told him
at an earlier age, 'It's OK, you can enjoy yourself'.
Q. Did you ever meet Brando?
A. No I didn't. I would have loved to have met him. I
think he was on the run a lot of the time, though. I think he
was quite lonely and that he missed company. I gather that he
was rather gregarious, quite social, and that he liked gossip,
for example. But there was another side to him, where he wasn't
at ease with who he was. I think that's a shame.
Q. You're buying a house in LA now?
A. I am, but I still live part of the time in London.
I'm a Scotsman and the Scots are notoriously nomadic. We're either
the lost tribe of Bedouins, or the lost tribe of Israel, depending
on which church you follow. We travel.
As Robert Louis Stevenson, a great Scotsman, once said: "I
travel not to go anywhere, but to go." And that's what's
exciting about the job. You get to go to all sorts of places.
Q. What do you like about living in the States?
A. I think Americans are very nice. I think that's one
thing that people always forget about Americans, they're incredibly
nice people. They're very polite. I don't think the English are
particularly pleasant or nice. I do have a couple of Scots friends
here, and we like to get together and have a laugh, because Scots
humour is very particular.
But I go back to Scotland. I've just been there doing a play and
it was wonderful. It's a great country and I'm very proud that
I come from there. But it's a small country with a chequered history.
The irony is that there are so many Scots in the British government
Q. Who were the Scots actors you looked up to as a young
A. I suppose Sean Connery is the one. But also Fulton
Mackay, who was in Porridge, but was also a great stage actor,
and a mentor of mine. Andrew Keir, Donald Crisp, there were a
few. But Sean has really done a lot for Scotland. Nobody realises
that Sean was putting money into Scotland as far back as 1965,
into big educational projects.
Q. How do you feel about Anthony Hopkins taking over
the Hannibal Lecter role, after you played him first in Manhunter?
A. Well, I always get good reviews when the films come
out, so it's alright. I don't know. I'm very happy with the film
I did. I think Tony did a fantastic job in Silence Of The Lambs,
and then it became a franchise, where the character got developed
in a way that isn't the way I would have seen it going.
I thought it was great when Lecter was a marginal character in
the dark, when he was a mystery.