Last night saw Naomi Watts interviewed for a Screentalk at the London Film Festival.
The discussion took in Mulholland Drive, Funny Games and Eastern Promises, as well as Naomi's background and her experiences of producing. Suchandrika Chakrabarti reports
“I’ve probably been over preoccupied with death. I think about it unhealthily too much. Actually, I think I see it as an ashes-to-ashes grand recycling scheme that when we die our body goes into the soil and a tree grows and the fruit grows and a bird eats from the tree, and you go round and round and round.”
In a 30 minute non-PR interview, Ewan McGregor talks with Netribution's Nicol Wistreich about his early days, the beginning of interest in drama at school, and travelling around Africa with Aids campaigners. He talks about his first ever play, practicing the lines to the sherif of Nottingham to himself, and overcoming the negative perceptions of people around him to get where he is now. The interview comes in four parts:
I - I was nine when I absolutely knew I was going to become an actor" - early memories of theatre
II - "There's music in everything" - performing at school
III - "My life changed that day" - starting work
IV - "You can do whatever you want if you're passionate about it" - the attitude
I'd kept myself eerily cool right up until the moment he walked in the room.
In those few brief seconds, it suddenly hit me. This is Renton. Sure there's Star Wars and Big Fish and Robots and Moulin Rouge and even Shallow Grave. But Trainspotting was the film that made me and everyone I knew at that time sit up and say 'hot shit that's good' - and Ewan was what made it. And before that I can still remember sitting down to watch my first Dennis Potter series and seeing McGregor in the opening scene, brylcreamed-back hair, calmly stirring a cup of tea in Lipstick on Your Collar and wondering - who is that person who make me have to watch every move he makes?
There are some actors who you feel like you've become an adult with, and as he walked in the back room of the Soho club, hand thrust forward, I got sweaty shivers down my spine.
"I've heard Richard Linklater say that in the States certain civil liberties are being taken away under the guise of safety - ‘We have your best interests and your protection [at heart]' - and it's becoming more and more not innocent until proven guilty, but you're guilty until proven innocent. I think A Scanner Darkly is kind of quietly dealing with some of those themes. Or something to get out of it is something kind of like, ‘Hey, you know the scene where that man who is on the street with the megaphone is being taken away by the police? You can't dissent.' So there is a little bit of a warning, I think, going on in the film. I think a lot of people, probably in their day to day lives in America now, are ill at ease. I know with my friends and everyone there's a ‘when is the shoe going to drop?' kind of thing. So everyone's not like running around all happy. And in terms of being safe, I don't think people feel at bottom safe."
"Bettie's got a cult following in America. She is a pop icon. A lot of people dress like her, they do a burlesque show, and a lot of people will put on the wig and do acts like Bettie Page. And fashion and everything, the looks were inspired by things that she wore then. When Madonna had the cone bras in the early 90s, she was doing that in the 50s. As for her sexuality, I'm sure she was aware of it. You know, the word naïve keeps coming up, but to me it was a knowing naiveté. She knew what was going on but it was the attitude of the 50s to pick and choose what you wanted to look at and how closely you wanted to look at it. I think she was doing her job, and she was making her living, but I'm sure she knew what was going on. But it didn't serve her in any way to really investigate it and I think when she thought about it, she was making people happy and she wasn't judging them for a fetish. It was like, ‘OK, so you like shoes, you like whips or whatever.' I think within the realm of what they were doing it was like acting or playing dress up."
"If you think about the French New Wave, what was the main topic? Young directors wanting to know, how is a real woman? How is she? What is my fantasy? I was very lucky to be at that time because I became part of the fantasy. But now the daily life is far beyond our own personal relationships, and there is what I call the ‘third sex’: men love women, men love men, women love women, and why not? You know? But we are unbalanced. We don’t rely on tradition. It used to be that you have to get married, you have to get children, earn some money, retire. Now it’s difficult to find work. Maybe you find the woman you love or the man you love, but after a while the excitement with sex is over, so you divorce or you separate. There’s not that idea of stability. That sexual liberation has its good sides and the worst. Because people get stuffed with sex, like with food.”
JH: I think, probably, the most interesting area of V for Vendetta is taking a fresh look at what terrorism is and what it stands for. We have been kind of led to believe, in the present situation, that terrorism is utterly disgusting and certainly I’m not arguing for a minute that it’s the right way forward, but then I wouldn’t say that any kind of warfare is the right way forward, personally. I don’t think that war has ever led us into anything that is a positive conclusion. But what it does suggest is to at least take a look at the reasons for terrorism, and that it’s usually not without reason. I think the film is probably suggesting that we look at it more seriously, that we address it more seriously, that it is the only effective way that certain areas of modern society can make their voice known, whether we like it or don’t like it. That has to be treated seriously it seems to me.
"What a lot of people want to talk about is this whole idea of is V a terrorist or is he a freedom fighter? From his point of view he is trying to wake people up and force them to take responsibility for their own lives, rather than be beholden to the government. What is terrorism? Terrorism is a word that’s bandied around a lot at the moment and the more we use it, the less it means; and the more we use it, the less we have to ask ourselves why is someone doing these things. It’s very easy to say these people are this and these people are this, we’re defending liberty and democracy and these people are terrorists. That’s a very convenient way of talking but it’s not very helpful."