Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Growing up, what was your own relationship to Fairy
A: My mom read me the Grimms' Fairy Tales. We had a book
were I still remember the jacket of it. I actually didn’t
remember how dark they were though. I think my mom might have
edited a little bit. I was a little surprised when I re-read them
for this film how macabre they were.
Q. It is interesting how people talk about how dark and
violent comic books are today but they are almost tame compared
to the darkness of some of these stories.
A: Comic books don’t have anything on the Brothers
Grimm. Parents probably tell their kids more sanitized versions
of them anyway.
Q. So what makes them so interesting?
A: I think there are life lessons in them. If you re-read
them, you can see some judgments in life but more than that for
me, I thought they were the first step that you could make up
stories and go into these other worlds. I think that is the primary
functions in which they serve for kids is that it can allow you
to have this imagination and give you permission to tell stories.
Q. When in the process of this film did you come aboard?
The script had been floating around for a while...
A: I came on last. Terry was already on it. I was doing
Stuck On You and I got this
call. I couldn’t believe that the script was still available.
The first thing I asked Terry when I spoke to him was why Johnny
Depp was not doing this film. I was sitting with Chuck Roven and
Terry and Chuck said, “No, we want you. We want you.”
Terry was just sitting there and asked him. He said that they
wouldn’t let him do it with Johnny. Three months later Pirates
Of The Caribbean opened and I am sure they were kicking themselves
because they could have had Johnny Depp [laughs].
I was really amazed that a great role like this in a Terry Gilliam
film was still available.
Q. There was talk in the beginning of you and Heath playing
the others character.
A: Yeah, Heath and I switched roles. At the time when
it was offered, I was offered Jake. Heath and I both lobbied Terry
to switch roles because I always play the Jake role and Heath
felt he was always the Will role so we wanted to flip flop. Terry
said he did a similar thing with Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt for
Twelve Monkeys and he switched them.
Q. As an actor, what did you find interesting about the
journey that Will takes that you haven’t had the opportunity
to do on screen before?
A: He is just a total blundering fraud. He is very suave
and debonair but the minute the shit hits the fan, he is a total
coward and panics. I just thought that would be funny as a character.
Q. You and Heath play brothers and you have brothers
in your own life. How closely do you bring elements of that into
this performance? Did it enable you to shortcut the relationship?
A: Yeah. I have never had a sister but I assume it is
a similar bond. I think we were lucky in this case that we had
a month to rehearse. We used to time to get to know each other
and so when we started to film, we had a very good sense of each
Obviously we would not be as close as real brothers but we had
a good rappor with each other. We had a short hand for working
together. That is what Terry asked for us and as we rehearsed
all day or learned our accents, we would then go off at night
and have dinner or drinks together and shoot the shit and that
kind of bonding really helped with the chemistry of the two characters.
Q. When you start working
with someone like Terry Gilliam, who is such a visual artist,
how does that affect you as an actor on set?
A: Everything that he does is highly choreographed and
so you always know where you are. He needs like 200 people for
his vision to come to life and so he is good at communicating
with everyone where they need to be and what their job is shot
Unlike most directors, he uses like 14 and 17mm lenses, which
are really wide screen, and so he packs the frame from side to
side and really deep. He has all these elements moving around.
When you sign up to do a Terry Gilliam film, then you are just
one of his elements that he will use in any shot. You are aware
of what you are but you are not in charge of your own choreography.
I know my job is to walk from there to there but there will be
geese in the background doing another thing and horses coming
this way. He sits there with all the elements and tinkers with
it until he gets the alchemy to his eye. Then you move on.
Q. Is he a Clint Eastwood style director who does three
takes then moves on or other directors who do 40?
A: He will do as many as required. He will do a lot because
he knows what elements he wants working in a shot and so he will
adjusts them slightly. He is also capable of getting hung up on
the bird that is not flapping its wing in the top right hand corner
of the screen. What bird? But he sees it. The love and passion
for him is down to the smallest detail.
Q. When you shot The
Bourne Identity, you had to learn martial arts and weaponry.
Did you pick up any new skills on Brothers Grimm?
A: I did study tango dancing for three months. It was
Terry’s idea. I don’t know if it helped. I am kind
of a sloucher and so it helped me stand up more straight. I also
took yoga. Will is more of a dandy than I am so that was all of
the physical stuff I had to do. I did have to work on the accent
a lot. I also worked on sword fighting and took three days a week
of that. It felt like I was in summer camp taking all the mini
Q. The film changes its tone throughout the film. At
first it seems more black comedy and whimsical and then it gets
a little more serious. As an actor, were you aware of these changes
in mood and was it easy to maintain your character development
A: We kind of knew that coming in just from reading the
script. You also know that Terry never makes anything that can
be categorized. I wouldn’t even know how to describe this
film other than to say it is a Terry Gilliam film. It has all
those elements of humor, adventure and fantasy. It is really different
from anything. Ultimately it is bizarre (laugh).
Q. Harry Potter has driven kids back to reading. What
do you hope The Brothers Grimm might do for those who see it?
A: Hopefully another avenue to use their imagination.
It can be a springboard to creativity as they were in my life.
As it did with me, it can help people tell stories. The kids,
who Terry showed the film to, really dig it. It gets their adrenaline
going and they have responded to the story and they get the images
and the references.
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