How did you become involved in the GetOutThere project?
It came out of the blue really. I was actually on a set in Yorkshire shooting a short film and my agent told me that I'd been asked to be the judge of a short film competition so I said, "Yeah, I'll do that" I'd never been asked to judge anything before. The internet side of it came later and I started to have doubts because I'm a bit of a technophobe, but I thought that it might be a good way in to start to understand. I was just asked out of the blue, I'm quite flattered really.
Who came up with the idea for the competition prize?
Well both of us really.
How much judging will you actually do?
I'm gonna watch most of them, that's the way I wanna do things. It depends on the response but I'll watch as many as I can, if I'm going to do it I might as well do it properly.
How many shorts have you been involved in?
I've only ever been in one, the one we shot in Yorkshire and which we only wrapped a couple of months ago.
Do you watch many?
Yeah, when they come along I enjoy it. I think its a real challenge for a filmmaker to be able to condense narrative and I would think that they are a lot harder to start off with, I'd certainly find it more difficult.
Was the main attraction curiosity or were BT just being very generous?
Well I'm getting paid to do it but I was actually quite honoured as an actor, its directors who usually get asked to do these things but for some reason they asked me. I suppose my body of work has gone in a certain direction to some extent, there's been an emphasis on content and the importance of script so I thought that I wasn't a bad choice. I'd like to offer some encouragement as well, you know and I wouldn't have minded something like this when I was that age, there was nothing like this.
What was the brief you set?
I didn't wanna be proscriptive - I didn't want people to make films that I would like, I wanted them to make films on subject matter that they cared about. I'm not looking for any particular theme, just commitment and belief and its not about having any amazing technical ability. I think there's a movement within the British film industry of style over content which I'm definitely not a part of.
Is that a problem in the industry?
I think the problem with it is that we are jettisoning what we're good at. We have a literary tradition. We have great novelists, great playwrights and a tradition of directors like Leigh and Loach and Steven Friers who all trained at the BBC who are there to serve the writer, that was our tradition and we've jettisoned that. I think that's why so many British films are coming out and failing, they're failing because they're badly written.
On that point, you've gone from brilliant TV writing to a Bruckheimer film. How does the difference feel?
Script is not as sacred in Hollywood as it is over here. I just do the best work I can with what's in front of me.
What about the differences in working methods? You play the villain in 60 seconds, do you fear that danger of being typecast as the standard British villain?
Well, all the films I've worked on in Britain have been well organised. Sometimes you feel executive decisions aren't helping you but what British crews may lack in experience they make up for in nouse and enthusiasm and I'd never compare them with American crews unfavourably. The Bruckheimer was a massive, almost military, operation and I'd never seen anything like it but you know, I'd always imagined that that is what it must be like. Fields upon fields of trailers and huge canopied areas.
Well I won't do it again. You heard it here first! I've done it once and that's it now. I've just done 6 months in the West End and I live in Manchester so if I work down here I have to find somewhere to live and pay rent and all that, sometimes you make decisions that allow you to do other things, I couldn't have done six months in London without that.