Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview with Crispin Glover

Gayle MacDonald of the Globe and Mail recently interviewed actor/filmmaker Crispin Glover. Glover -- who plays the Knave of Hearts, Ilosovic Stayne, in Alice in Wonderland -- discussed working with Tim Burton and the cast on Wonderland, dealing with the special effects and outrageous proportions, and his directorial debut:

Do you strive not to be a typical leading man – deliberately choosing parts and directors (like Stayne and Burton) that allow you to bring artistic expression to the role?

Much of my decision-making in the last decade has been in order to fund my own films. Luckily some of this has caused me to be in films that have done well financially and that has actually improved the sort of roles I am offered in higher budget films. When something comes along like playing a great role in a Tim Burton film it’s the best of both worlds – he is someone who has both a strong artistic expression and wants to let everyone he’s working with have a strong artistic impact. In doing that, the people that are working with him (including myself) want to fulfill what his vision as a filmmaker is.

This is the third time you've worked with Johnny Depp. What do you admire about the guy - personally and in his acting?

I have known Johnny Depp, I believe, since 1983 – and met him the day after he got his first acting job. It was a number of years before I acted with him. What I admire about his acting is that he’s been able to maintain a genuine eccentric interest in his choices, yet excel in financial successes.

In her role as The Red Queen, Helena Bonham Carter looks like a bulbous-headed freak. Was it hard to keep a straight face filming some of the scenes?

Working with Helena Bonham Carter was simply great. Her head was enlarged in the post-production process. She had the makeup as in the film, but a normal-sized head. She’s an excellent actress and laughing was the furthest thing from my mind – I was very concerned about supporting her fine performance and what came to mind for my character was to be diplomatic.

Which aspect of the special effects was most challenging for you as the Knave of Hearts?

I was wearing stilts in a green suit that was later made to look like I had an elongated body.

Your directorial debut was What Is It? – a film in which you appeared alongside a cast that consisted mostly of actors with Down Syndrome. What inspired the feature?

I always make it clear when I discuss my first feature film that it’s not about Down Syndrome but my psychological reaction to the corporate restraints that have happened in the last 20 to 30 years in filmmaking – specifically, anything that can possibly make an audience uncomfortable is necessarily excised or the film will not be corporately funded or distributed. This is damaging to the culture because it is the very moment when an audience member sits back in their chair, looks up at the screen and thinks: “Is this right, what I am watching? Is this wrong, what I am watching? Should I be here? Should the filmmaker have made this? What is it?” ... I would like for people to think for themselves.

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