John Hurt Talks Harry Potter, Quentin Crisp and Alien - The RT Interview
The legendary thesp on the state of British film.
But you're participating in these movies -- you're a part of the Harry Potter franchise, you've just done an Indiana Jones movie...
John Hurt: I know! What can I do? It's the only way I can keep going too. And I enjoy the experiences -- you can have fun -- but I don't enjoy seeing that waste. I don't like that at all.
When it comes to Indiana Jones, I'd never done one before so I wanted to see what it'd be like. I've never worked with Spielberg before. But that is a huge movie. It's a bit like a circus and you're a part of it; you just have to accept it really.
Ultimately the film industry has always pushed out its biggies, and I don't have a problem with that. I just wish that we'd spend more time nurturing the smaller ones.
I was on set of the last Harry Potter film and the thing I took away from it was just how slow the whole thing moved when compared to an independent set -- are you less engaged as an actor if you're waiting hours to actually start acting while all these people run around?
JH: I think you've got to get used to that kind of thing. The most difficult is doing complicated scenes in public areas, which can be tricky on any film. If it's under a controlled situation, even when there are a lot of people there you get used to that sort of thing. You're used to that in the theatre, having a lot of people around. You can't very well say, "I wish there weren't so many people out there!" [Laughs]
At the Cannes photocall for Indiana Jones, May 2008.
The first thing you have to get used to in any kind of acting is the ability to make a fool of yourself. If you haven't learnt how to make a fool of yourself, you shouldn't be on the boards. That's absolutely what it's all about.
Does your character in these last two Harry Potter films have a little more to do than he did in the first?
JH: Well, not a lot more to do. It's different. He's kidnapped and tortured and he gives away information. They haven't made it into a huge production number, so it's not too far removed from the dialogue scene in the first film.
Is it true you're a part of the new Tron film?
JH: No, I'm not in the new Tron film. That crept onto the internet at some point and I don't know how it got there. Not unless I did something in my sleep, so who knows!
Ridley Scott is making a new Alien prequel, of course. Presumably you wouldn't be able to play a younger version of a character you played thirty years ago, but have you talked to him about it?
JH: I'm much too old! I don't know what the idea is behind it, so I don't know whether it's a good idea or not. I don't know what Ridley's got up his sleeve.
With chest pains in Ridley Scott's Alien.
It's hard to believe it's been 30 years since that film -- do you have fond memories of the experience?
JH: I do have fond memories, but I also have a lot of not so fond memories. There's an awful lot of hanging around when you're doing science fiction. Going down and waiting for them to set up, being told to go back to your dressing room while they change the track and the lighting and so on. And you come back four hours later and you're told the same thing. That big stage at Shepperton was just thick with created smoke. It makes me cough just to think about it. I was thrilled to be involved with it, particularly given its legacy. It just wasn't an awful lot of fun to do!
Hurt will next hit the big screen, in the UK at least, in Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control on 11th December. 44 Inch Chest, co-starring Ray Winstone and Ian McShane, will follow worldwide early next year.