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!