We can all sit in judgement on huge things - the death penalty, terrorism, war - but until you have to make that decision or you're involved in it, you can't speak. When I was ill, one of the things that struck me was, ‘Oh my God, this happens to somebody else.' You know, this usually happens to the bloke round the corner and they're all going, ‘Oh what a shame.' No, you're the fucking bloke round the corner it's happened to. So, you know, you use your power of imagination and your job is to play the character, not your own personal emotion, but I'm thinking every time Albert did this, he had to see this look in these people's eyes, including women. Call me sexist if you like but your whole instinct is to protect youthful femininity. So when I had to put the noose around Ruth Ellis, I thought, ‘No, this is against nature.'
I think being Israeli definitely influenced my desire to do V for Vendetta because being from Israel, terrorism and violence is a part of daily life. It might be a new thing for Americans in the past few years, but as an Israeli you live with it your whole life. It’s people you know, it affects people you love, so they’re issues that I have been thinking about and questioning constantly from a very young age. So it was something I wanted to work on because I feel like it brings up questions I never get answers to.
Like, what is the difference between state-sanctioned violence and individual violence? What’s the difference between someone who’s going to commit suicide with their act of violence and someone who’s willing to die for their country? What’s the difference between killing a soldier who has been drafted in to the army at the age of 18 or a civilian? All of these categorisations often seem so arbitrary, and the lines between them so thin, that it almost trivialises the impact of violence and how awful it is.
Life has so much more of an imagination to do things than I do. I think one of the reasons that my life - once I got past the really difficult, difficult part of it, like all my identity crises and everything in my twenties - kind of fell into place, was that I stopped trying to put my expectations onto what things were going to happen and was more open to everything. 'I’m here because all my plans failed' - that’s what I like to say. I’m here because I was open to following my life where it led me, and to making choices that were new choices out of what was dealt to me. But I wouldn’t have ever seen it turning out this way.
The idea, I think, that most appealed to me about The Constant Gardener was that I think in our parents' generation they felt more idealistic and I think they felt more that one person can make a difference. I think students today are not that politically active. Not like they used to be. And what I loved about this film is that it portrays people who really do believe, absolutely, that one person can make a difference. Not only that one person make a difference but if you just help one person, it can also make a difference. That spirit, I don't want to call it a message because it sounds too preachy, but that notion moves me very, very deeply.
In terms of acting there’s no difference in playing a conventional role and playing a CG character in terms of the acting choices and creative approach in building a character, a psychological profile for the role and so on. In those terms, there are absolutely no differences. But in technicality there’s a language you have to learn. It’s akin to being on a bare theatrical stage – you have to imagine everything. You don’t have a costume, or make-up to help you for instance, but what it’s about in performance is a very pure form of acting. With Kong, it was technically very difficult in terms of proportionality of Kong as compared to Gollum, who was one to one with my physicality in terms of size. With Kong there were huge technical challenges, with the length of the forearms and how we made him relate to the environment and so on, but in terms of acting, there’s no difference.”
Andy Serkis talks about building character in his roles as King Kong, Gollum and as "El Presidente" the King Pin of The Jolly Boys - their Last Stand comes out on DVD this week - AND his own ambitions to work behind the camera directing film action.
[Acting] is very dangerous. It’s like putting a boxer in the ring and you say, ‘I want you to box, I want you to box really hard, and I want you to kill someone, almost. But then when you step out of the ring, don’t use your hands,' you know? With an actor you’re saying you have to keep everything raw and available and there, and now we’re going to put you back into the world, but now you have to be very disciplined and adult and mature. You know, you’re constantly trying to balance it.
"What they choose to greenlight or not to greenlight is based on the tastes of the studio. And the tastes of the studio are largely about what they think is going to make money. It’s commerce. The sort of cyclical self-fulfilling prophecy that they always point to is that black movies don’t make money. You know what I mean? Every movie has to have a huge foreign component, it’s much bigger than the domestic component, and they say, traditionally, black movies don’t sell foreign so we’re not going to spend a lot of money on them. And then if they do spend the money on them, they don’t spend the money on the marketing -- and nothing sells itself. The movie then doesn’t make money and they say, ‘See: the movie didn’t make money’. It’s kind of stacked against us, in a way.
Is there anything Eugene Hutz cannot do? The Ukrainian emigre survived Chernobyl and, inspired by his love of music, founded the riotously wonderful, New York-based gypsy punk band, Gogol Bordello. Although he had never acted before, Hutz recently made his movie debut in Everything is Illuminated, and effortlessly stole the show from Elijah Wood. Below, the mastochioed wildman talks about landing his first movie role, government cover-ups, discovering his Roma roots, and the plight of Eastern Europe's gypsies.
I like dressing up. Because, like, Mrs Bucket [in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory], I was the one who asked for teeth. They’re not my real teeth, although Tim keeps thinking they are. I know, but I think there’s something sweetly romantic about it. Just think: after being an ape, after all that, he saw through to the real me!