Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. How did you create a convincing portrayal of this famous,
yet mysterious figure, Johannes Vermeer?
CF: The secret was in the mystery. What you have in terms
of historical understanding is mystery, and what Tracy Chevalier
wrote was also mystery, and I was perpetuating that interpretation.
It was a balancing act - fleshing him out without revealing too
much. We weren't trying to do Amadeus, preserving the enigma of
the figure had to be handled delicately and, ultimately, I was
the final frontier of keeping that going.
Q. Was there a feeling that you were underplaying it, given
the lack of dialogue?
A: I think I can speak for a lot of actors that dialogue is
often very limiting, particularly if it's anything other than
excellent. Mediocre dialogue is utterly crippling to the process
and brilliant dialogue is a free ride, but no dialogue is a very
liberating and inspiring thing to do, as long as you've got the
confidence of a great director.
There's nothing more dispiriting than having a lot of ideas of
what your tacet performance is going to be, if no one at the other
end of the camera has the same ones. I've got this complex view
of this woman and am going to have to do it all with my eyes.
It gave as an added sense of responsibility. Someone implied it
reduced the role of the scriptwriter, but it's the contrary -
the confidence and the skill to be able to use this type of cinema
shows confidence in your writing and is unusual. It requires great
Q. Have you learned the hard way - were you counting your
lines early in your career?
A: You learn that quite quickly. There are adages around,
about actors with no lines stealing scenes, but I think past the
first year of drama school you're not counting your lines.
Scarlett Johansson: I used to count my lines! [Laughs]
A: But she's only young.
Peter Webber: She hasn't been to drama school yet!
Q. Have you ever refused to say a bad line in a previous film?
And is there any one line you can particularly remember as being
A: [Laughs] I once insisted that someone else's line was cut,
because I refused to be in the same room with it. It was "You
played me, Ross, You played me, and I'm not even a piano".
Q. Can you paint?
A: I've played around, but anything I can do with a paint
brush would be utterly useless!
Q. Was there any hilarity involving Colin's wig?
Scarlett Johansson: I can say a few things about the Vermeer
Colin Firth: She nearly pulled out because of my wig! The
wig was ah, it was a lovely script, and if you read
a script like this, you know that if you accept this part, a wig
awaits you, it can be an alarming prospect. Had it been anyone
other than Jenny Shircore, who is well known for being brilliant,
it would have been the kiss of death. My fear was that the rest
of the world would react to my wig the way Scarlett did.
Scarlett Johansson: It was only the first few days, until
it fit properly. Okay, it was very much a sort of Fabio wig!
Colin Firth: I'm doing what I think is a sexy, smouldering
look and she's giving me, I can't believe it's not butter.