Compiled by: Lizzie Guilfoyle
Q. Given that you have no musical training prior to this
whatsoever, it must have felt extraordinary for you, that you
were singing the role that so many leading men wanted to play,
in the movie that has been talked about for two decades?
A. I think you've been mis-informed.
I was classical trained. [much laughter]
Since I was six-months-old. These journalists who never get the
Actually, like Patrick, people here aren't quite aware of my gift
to perform musicals, but for different reasons. I never did one.
I have to say, I was kind of taken aback when Joel first.. [Joel
Schumacher: It started because a couple of years
ago, when I first met Gerry, I knew I wanted to work..... I knew
he was a very interesting young actor and we talked about the
possibility of working together and I never had a role for him.
He had mentioned once, in passing, that he'd been in a band. OK.
We all know what that means. So, it was either Gerry was playing
the tambourine and trying to pick up girls, was rapping and trying
to pick up girls, was trying to play the guitar and trying to
pick up girls. Right. And possibly succeeding at the latter.
But I thought he'd be a great Phantom. The deal I had with Andrew
is that, definitely, the three of them would sing for him. Whoever
was going to play those roles would ultimately, at the end of
the process, sing for Andrew and that would be the determining
fact. Because the deal was he wouldn't force me to put anyone
in the movie I didn't want. But I wouldn't force him to use anyone
whose voice he didn't feel was right for this movie. And Gerry
was very passionate about the character.
And I said, the good news is you'd be a great Phantom; the bad
news here is, you're going to have to sing for Andrew Lloyd Webber.
And Gerry did. He came in and I tell you something, he was amazing.
I saw Andrew, I was sitting behind Andrew in his music room here
in London, and I saw Andrew jump up - Gerry sang Music of the
Night - and I saw Andrew jump up and sort of race across the room
and shake his hand vigorously.
And I knew Andrew would be polite if he didn't like him, but I
could tell by the enthusiasm, and then Gerry got the role.
We also have to say, Nigel Wright, our musical producer and finally
our musical director, really worked very closely with everyone
here and did a magnificent job.
I have to say that Simon [music director) and Nigel did a lot
to assure Andrew that, even though Gerry had not had any formal
training, that with some coaching, he could really pull it off.
And that was part of the deal.
Q. What was scarier, singing for Andrew Lloyd Webber
or a short-trousered school boy singing Mull of Kintyre to a class
of young people?
A. I was singing Mull of Kintyre once
in my school and the teacher overheard me and sent me to the class
above. And I was terrified they would kick the shit out of me.
I had to just walk in and the teacher in that class thought, why
has he been sent up here. She was spoken to and then said, 'OK
class. Stop your work'. Oh NO. Next thing, I'm singing Mull of
Kintyre for this class.
I have to say the singing for Andrew Lloyd Webber turned out to
be, well, and Joel, for you hadn't heard me sing either, and neither
had Austin Shaw, the producer, and the three of them were in this
room at the same time and all the nerves I should have experienced
just like a month before I knew this was going to happen, and
I hadn't felt any nerves at all, I remember being amazed at how
calm I was about this whole thing, and then suddenly the first
notes of Music of the Night came on, and the prospect of what
I was about to do, and what I didn't actually think I was capable
of, hit me in that moment and the legs started shaking and Simon
Lee was playing the piano and we started doing it.
I think it was like [demonstrates song], and from there, suddenly
I thought, 'this is the man who composed this song, one of the
most famous songs of all time, and I'm singing a song made famous
by somebody who's not me and I'm not a singer'. I spent the rest
of the day annoying Joel, though, because I was convinced I had
JS: He was so obnoxious. Katie had invited us
to see her boyfriend in a play and so Gerry and I went and Gerry
did not look at the stage the entire play. He sat like this and
went, 'oh Joel, I was terrible, I was terrible, I want to do it
again, I want to do it again'. And I said 'he loved it. You know
if you had to do it again I would tell you, but you don't. You
passed the test'.
'No, no, I've got to do it again; I've got to do it again!' And
he didn't do it again. That was my whole evening with Gerry.
Q. Can you tell us when you
first saw the stage version and if, in an ideal world, you could
play any other musical role in any other musical, what would it
A: I saw it, I think first, before or after meeting
Joel. I just went along to see what it was that I was getting
interested in, and I saw it again when I was singing with the
conductor over there.
As for playing another role, it would be the Sheila Gish role
in the Donmar Warehouse production of Cabaret. Being a female
would be a whole new side of me.
Q. You wanted to try and humanise the Phantom - not making
him a creature but more a wounded, pained human being?
A: I think that was the case for everybody. It was much
more that we were trying to tell the romantic triangle between
myself, Raoul and Christine. We had to tell a much more human
story and therefore to bring it down. And for me, from the second
I arrived, I met with Joel many times, I came in saying 'I need
to find a way of movement for the Phantom which is powerful and
focused and yet subtle'. I didn't want to be theatrical because
I thought on camera it would be grotesque. And a voice for the
Phantom, especially for me because I had the mask, and my best
way of expression was through the eyes, and from what I was feeling
and what I could say in the voice. I always wanted every note
that he sang to be an expression of his life, of his pain and
his love, and his frustrations. But the question you ask, 'how
did you deal with the music?', to me the learning cost was huge
and we all had a little system.
Schumacher: At the very end of the film, when
Emmy and Patrick are sailing away from him, his last line to her
is 'you alone can make my song take flight', and the way it's
done on the stage, you hit the balcony; it's sung full out, and
it makes no sense that way at all. So what he does is whisper
it to himself so that it becomes subtle.
Q. The make-up must have been pretty tricky to put on,
but I also gather you got a very strange reaction from some of
the people on the set who passed you by?
A: The prosthetics were a difficult thing to deal with.
It was a bastard! The first three times I did it was nine hours
in the doing and then about an hour and a half to get it off.
It's difficult to watch movies when somebody's super-gluing the
bottom of your eye and then pouring alcohol to get it off the
eye-lash and you're screaming with the pain, and then attaching
a piece of silk with a bit of string to this part of your eye,
here, the lower eyelid, pulling the string, underneath the prosthetic,
round your back, down to a piece of metal and then pulling it
so it literally does that, and hangs down.
We finally got it down to about five hours but there was a six-day
stretch when I was up at 3am every morning.
Schumacher: Well part of it was we didn't want
to curse you with the huge fake prosthetic thing, that just glues
on, which you've seen in horror movies thousands of times, so
to make it look like real damage, it's subtle, so it's done in
so many layers, and Jenny Shircore, who is a genius, who designed
our hair and make-up, but what Gerry is telling you really it's
very difficult to be a movie star. He wants you to share his pain.
Butler: So the girls are allowed to talk about
the pain of corsets, but I'm not allowed to talk about anything!
But to get back to your question - and thanks for interrupting
Joel - it was strange and funny, because when I was walking through
the studio, the reaction was very strong. They'd either get very
scared or just what the hell is that? And it made me very angry,
which was kind of weird, you know, because I was already very
angry after coming out of the prosthetic, but at the same time
put me in the perfect head state. If you have hours of hours to
watch yourself turning into this, or see this disfigurement taking
place, it kind of puts you in that place; and when you see people's
reactions to you - and they can't help but literally go 'oh my
God, that's awful' - then it certainly creates an emotional air.
Q. You were quoted as saying that after Phantom you were
going to call it a day, is that how you felt?
A: Leaving the movie industry? After working with Joel
I seriously considered it [laughs]. It was very telling, though,
that I didn't work again until August.
Up until that point I did five movies back to back with literally
a couple of days off between each one, and then I just couldn't...
the Phantom really killed me off. I mean, I loved it, it was the
most amazing experience, but by the end of it I was done in, I
Schumacher: You came into it exhausted. He was
filming on the soccer movie up til the first day of shooting on