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The Manchurian Candidate - Liev Schreiber Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Liev Schreiber, you weren’t even born when the original film was released so as a child of a completely different generation what was your awareness of the original movie?
A:
I was the only one out of Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and myself who openly admitted to having seen the film! In fact, I’d seen it four or five times, it’s one of my favourite films and Laurence Harvey [who plays Schreiber’s character in the original] is superb. That was quite intimidating the idea of making a film like this.
Going back and looking at the novel again I realised this was a very, very exciting opportunity to be involved in a film that has such a great story that like Shakespeare will find a way of retelling itself again and again.
I would not be surprised if we see another Manchurian Candidate in 10 or 15 years. In reading the script and talking to Jonathan about primarily the relationship between Raymond and his mother I felt it had completely reinvented what was essentially a classical relationship so it felt very contemporary and that’s the kind of work you want to do.

Q. Was it ever a matter of debate about not making a 'how to' film?
A.
I think there’s a real danger in being afraid of things that are incendiary, or political. It’s intelligent to approach political film in a non-partisan way because you want it to appeal to as many people as you possibly can. For me, the core of this film is a humanist one. And I think that applies to both parties concerned.
There’s a real danger, in Hollywood, of avoiding things are of substance and have power and are compelling and are dangerous and are volatile. By dwelling too much on why we do what we risk that previous freedom of being able to do it. It is purely designed to move people.
I think I participated in it so I know it was the agenda to make a compelling political thriller and the way we approach that as an actor or director is always a personal one and that’s the key to it. But collectively does the film say something political well I hope so but you try to do that in as non-partisan a way as possible but that’s a more essential message.

Q. You had many intense scenes with Meryl Streep in the film how was working with her?
A.
Meryl, as an actress is defined by her generosity both to audiences and other actors, and probably directors as well. She gives a tremendous amount. When you’re on set it’s the jokes in between and the coffee and the crossword puzzles and all the things that make you not nervous in the presence of one of your idols. And she was very good at that. And the intimacy developed very quickly between us and when I was struggling she was always there for me and vice versa.
You get into that relationship on camera where things come very easily, and you can feel it as an actor when lines are effortless you’re not playing things you’re saying things and that’s what she does. She also has thing that Denzel has.
Denzel has incredible hyper-focus as an actor he puts his head down he gets in the scene and he’s gone. And if you’re open to receiving it you fill the scene with a tremendous amount of energy. And Meryl does that with her eyes in a remarkable way that I’ve never seen any other actor do. It’s completely effortless, which is terrifying to see them do that when you think about how hard you’re working!



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