30 June 2013

Stoker Interview - Matthew Goode

English actor Matthew Goode is known for his roles opposite Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty, in Woody Allen’s Match Point and the epic graphic-novel adaptation Watchmen. Other notable roles include the Evelyn Waugh adaptation Brideshead Revisited, Leap Year, Imagine Me and You, and A Single Man, opposite his friend Colin Firth. In STOKER, from acclaimed director Park Chan-wook, Goode plays Charlie Stoker, uncle to central character, India (Mia Wasikowska), and brother-in-law to Evie (Nicole Kidman)…

Director Park reveals that he gifted Mia a jaguar statue. Did you get anything nice?

He gave me the part. That was the best present! And yes, he did he gave me a gift — an amazing green tea. He and his wife gave me these six or seven boxes of this green tea with this lovely little teapot. Fantastic. I like it a lot. It certainly has anti-oxidant stamp on it.

What surprised you most about working with a great filmmaker like Director Park?

The atmosphere he creates and the man himself are so wonderfully peaceful, especially considering what his work is often about, with the violence and often quite disturbing themes. But as a man he is the antithesis of that. He is not manic. It is funny, because he and Quentin Tarantino like each other’s work. They have an appreciation but, obviously, Quentin is much more manic. Both are brilliantly intelligent and, as I say, Director Park is so peaceful and I liked the whole Korean vibe on set because I found it quite Zen. Listening to him is very peaceful, particularly the way he speaks. I find him a very relaxing, calming person to be around. He is just fabulous, a really lovely guy. I think his next film is a Western and I would love to be in that, as barman with a moustache or something like that!

How did the director help you to understand his visual ambition for STOKER?

We actually got a folder when we arrived, stuffed full, where just about every single frame had been drawn. It was amazing and also slightly worrying.

Why was it worrying?

Well it was like, ‘Wow! This is going to be quite demonstrative and there won’t be much room,’ but he is actually very collaborative during the filming and it was fantastic. You knew pretty much that it was going to look special even if you weren’t always sure at the time why things happened. Nicole said that she always wondered why he photographed her hair being brushed for so long that day. And then you realize when you watch the film he was going to do that incredible cross-cut with the fields. So some things you knew and some times you were just like, ‘Well, he is an Asian director, perhaps this is what they do.’ The film is ravishingly shot.

And how did you and Nicole Kidman strike up the chemistry on screen?

Well, we went to the house because Director Park wanted to show us around it early-on during the rehearsal stage and I remember getting there and it was very hot, in the hundreds, and I was in a vest, a bit sweaty and Nicole said, ‘Actually, I think we should rehearse one of the scenes now that we are in the house.’ And I, professional that I am, had not got my script with me, so I was a bit worried that it would really show me up. Then it turned out to be the scene with the kiss at the end, so I was thinking, ‘Well, it’s just a rehearsal, we are not going to get to that moment, are we?’ But, suddenly, she’s approaching and that very day in an impromptu rehearsal she ends up going in for the kiss. I thought, ‘This is weird.’ I had this flashback to being in the cinema and seeing her in BMX Bandits! That was one of the first films that I watched in the cinema and if someone had told me at the age of seven, ‘Oh, you are going to kiss her. It is just going to be in another 25 years,’ well that is a very, very weird thing. Also, you are not in character when you are rehearsing. I was just a grubby Englishman in jeans and a vest, probably stinking of cigarette smoke. So at the rehearsal it was a little intimidating but on the day, in character, it was fine and just another scene. The rehearsal really helped.

Apparently, you and Mia visited the local Nashville honky-tonk bars on your weekends off?

Yes. We went two stepping. That’s one of the joys. We were such tourists. It was like buy cowboy boots? Check! Also my wife and my daughter were there because we were filming in Nashville and I knew that I wasn’t going to work every single day. It was one of the joys of the job that they came with me. We did everything that you think a tourist does and I bought them cowboy boots and my daughter actually got two pairs of cowboy boots. They are huge. She is only just wearing them now. With the two stepping, there were some very cool places to go, like The Bluebird CafĂ©, which has a reputation. It is the quality of the musicians that blows you away. We went to The Station Inn which is a very famous old place and the players are unbelievable — Bluegrass and swing music and it just makes you really happy. It’s a great a way to wind down. You see the old couples dancing, two-stepping, and they make it look so easy. Mia did a lot of dancing with my wife as well while I was sitting a couple out.

Having your family there must have made shooting STOKER even more special…

It did, because this can be a very selfish job. It becomes harder and harder. I have never really liked being away from family. I went to Australia and that was tough. Three months away with the little one at home. I hated it. They did come out for two weeks and that was hell. Then I had a one-year old with jet lag, while I was working a 16-hour day! It was awful when they had to leave and go back to Britain but, boy, did I sleep well. They are always the priority. . I just wish that I could work in England more. But you do have to go where the job takes you. It is not like I can pick and choose.

You were chosen for this film, so things must be going quite well…

I take work far more seriously since becoming a dad. I generally still wake up with financial crises going on in my head and for me it is just about getting a job and doing it. I think you do get better. I have been doing it for 14 years now and I have done 20-odd things. I’d love to think that down the road I am going to meet someone like Michael Fassbender’s got this amazing relationship with Steve McQueen. I’d love to find a director who brings out the best in me time and time again. That is what I’d like to think will happen one day.
Stoker is out on DVD & BluRay 1st July.

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