Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q: You have dyed black hair in the film. It looks like
A: It’s a bit more complicated than that –
but nearly! John’s visual image was Jack Kerouac. It was
something he’d wanted and we’d agreed on, and it would
be nice to go with that. He does have a habit of always wanting
to dye my hair dark in films.
Q: You worked with John on Love is the Devil, before
The Jacket. What makes him so special for you?
A: He’s truly individual as a filmmaker, I think.
He’s also a very close friend and that all goes along with
it. I trust his taste. With this film, he’s taken this very
strange script, which has been around for a while and people said
would be unmakable, and has made it into something that –
beyond being visually beautiful – is entertaining and scary.
You can’t define it. And that’s what John Maybury
is all about. He doesn’t make it easy for an audience but
you come away thinking ‘Well, I haven’t seen anything
like that before.’
Q: Your character is mentally ill, and you’ve played
a schizophrenic before in Some Voices. Did that help with The
A: I did use a lot of what I’d done on Some Voices.
I’d spoken to a lot of people, a lot of health care professionals,
about mental health. The scary thing is when you start looking
into mental health…we walk a thin line.
What we do is try and make sense of our world and lives, and if
there is a chemical imbalance in the brain or you’re suffering
from abuse as a child, if you do not deal with it, the thin line
we walk on called sanity is very easy to fall off.
We’ve all had dark moments – it’s just that
someone who is mentally ill tends to fall off quite a long way.
It’s terrifying. You look at schizophrenia and you go, ‘Well,
I’ve got five of the six symptoms!’ It’s not
too far from everybody’s reality anyway.
Q: Do you think acting out different characters relates
A: I certainly wouldn’t compare someone that is
mentally disturbed to acting, because it’s a lot more complicated
than that. It’s worrying how our psychosis can be close
to really serious illnesses.
Q: What do you think the main inspirations for the film
A: You’d have to talk to John about his influences,
but you can’t deny that One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s
Nest, which was a seminal movie, is going to be partly there.
But John’s visual style is so individual. If you watch it,
and see it again, his artwork is all over the walls. There are
little clues everywhere about things that are going on within
the movie. John works with a team that he works with all the time,
and he’s very particular about that.
Q: With references to Gulf War Syndrome in the film,
do you think the film is a reflection of the current political
A: I think it’s a reflection of American society.
This man who had major problems, has fought for his country…
actually, it’s a reflection of Western society much more
than American society. It’s not deeply political but if
you start to pick at it, you would find there are major political
references in there.
Q: You don’t share any scenes with Kiera Knightley.
Did you meet her?
A: She was around all the time. She’s in the future
and I’m in the past, so I don’t get to do any scenes
with her. I think she’s fantastic in this movie. It’s
going to do her so much good.
Hopefully, it’s a real breakthrough for her – mind
you, she’s doing fine. Jesus! It’s not like she’s
Q: What’s your own philosophy towards your career?
A: I try and keep things as mixed up as possible because
I get bored very easily. I need to keep myself inspired. Luckily,
Roger Michell inspires me, John Maybury inspires me. I’ve
worked with some great directors, and hopefully they’ll
employ me again.
Q: Haven’t recently
made critically and commercially successful British films like
Layer Cake and Enduring
Love, what do you think of our homegrown film industry?
A: I just think it’s always healthy, the British
film industry. The problem is, is that there isn’t the money
to distribute films. If you can’t get people to see it,
then we don’t have an industry. Unless that’s sorted
out, we don’t have an industry.
Q: Would you consider moving to LA for your career?
A: I’ve just got back from LA. I’ve come
back for the weather! Getting bored with the sunshine… I
do spend quite a lot of time out there. There’s no need
for me to live there. I have no plans to emigrate. Everything
I have is here. I can be over there fairly quickly.
Q: You made Tomb Raider,
a film rather contrary to movies like The Jacket. Do you regret
A: I don’t consider it a mistake. When you get
offered something like that, I thought ‘If I don’t
do it, then it would be something I would maybe eventually do.’
I’m an actor. It was a lesson for me to see a film like
that made. To see that amount of money being spent on something.
I’m much more aware, because of doing it, how money should
be spent on making a movie. I don’t regret it for one second.
It was an eye opener to say ‘I don’t want to do those
things.’ I can’t do them. I don’t think I have
the temperament to do them.
Having said that, it doesn’t take away from the fact that
I love popcorn movies. I can’t be hypocritical. If something
comes along, and it’s a great script and director doing
Q: Like Road
to Perdition? Was that an intimidating film to work on?
A: There was something like 40 and 50 Oscars on that
set, between cast and crew. It was terrifying but I had a word
with myself and said ‘Come on. Get on with it. This will
all be over very quickly. If you don’t start stepping up
to the plate and thinking about it, you’re going to be regretting
Q: How was Paul Newman to work with?
A: He told me dirty jokes occasionally! He was very inspiring.
A man that’s had a career like that, still has a love of
acting, the way he seems to have… I don’t think he
likes to work all the time but when he does it, it’s very
important to him.
Q: How are you finding your anonymity now, since those
A: It’s getting a bit battered. All I know is that
I’ve tried to protect my privacy as long as possible and
I will continue to do so because it’s got fuck all to do
with anybody. I mean this hasn’t. This is what I do and
is part of what I do for a living. But the rest of it is nobody’s
The same as nobody’s private life is anyone’s business,
even if you are in the public eye. There should be a clearly defined
line and I don’t think its brain surgery to try and figure
that out. It’s fairly simple. There’s privacy and
then there’s public life.
If you choose to be in the public life, then maybe you open yourself
up to all sorts of rubbish. But if you don’t then I think
that should be respected.
Q: You’ve never had anything bad written about
you in the press, have you?
A: Occasionally. I’ve had various members of the
press knocking on my family’s door at various hours of the
I hate to say but my father has lots of guns… if you go
to these restaurants here, you’ll get your photograph taken
but I don’t like these restaurants. If I get caught, it’s
unusual. On the whole, I don’t think people are that interested
in just me, so I don’t get bothered that much.
Q: You are next set to work with Steven Spielberg in
Vengeance, the story of the 1972 Munich Olympics. Is that definitely
A: I think so but I’m not a hundred per cent. He’s
very sensitive to the whole issue. It’s not a movie glamourising
anything. It’s a movie about revenge and about the fact
that revenge doesn’t really work.