Domhnall Gleeson On About Time And His 'F---ing Weird' Preparations For Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
So, I talked to you on the phone for Anna Karenina, and you were talking about the same thing. Like every time you get a role you, youíre like, "Theyíre never going to put me in this," and then they put you in it. Does that start going away at any point?
I donít think so. I know that I can do an OK job on some things, like enough people who I respect have trusted me at this point that I figure itís not like-- I donít think Iím terrible. I mean, Iím sure Iíll do some bad stuff, like everyone does.
You feel confident you were worthy of getting work.
Yeah, but then I also know I was worthy of getting work when I was unemployed and I know a lot of people who I know, who are exceptional actors who are out of work. So, like, you just donít know which way itís going to go. So, each one you just say, Iím going to give it my all.
The rom-com, itís not the physical challenge, and itís not Anna Karenina, where youíre learning the choreography. But so many people, especially men I think, get into rom-coms and just look adrift and miserable, like they seem like they just wandered into these sets by accident. What is that mental preparation for yourself to just throw yourself into this?
First of all, I love comedy, and for all that he is the center role and the straight man to a certain extent, he also gets a lot of nice jokes and he gets a lot of that lovely, awkward humor which I Iove. When I read this script, I laughed out loud. Thatís kind of where you put your hooks in. Also, Iíd only really done the love thing once before and that was in Anna Karenina, and I hadnít been in every scene in a film before. Then I met Richard and he knows his way around a gag so well. Heís really romantic himself, you know, like heís really generous with his time himself. I stayed in a house close to where he lived when I was making the film and he dropped in for tea a couple times and I spent time with his family and his partner and children and everything and got to know him a bit. There was lots to get your teeth into, and then creating a believable relationship with the most beautiful woman in the world. Thatís another challenge. We just have to make this feel like itís a real relationship. You obsess over that. You worry about that. Creating the father-son thing, which in the script I thought, "OK, this can really work if we land it right." And then seeing what Bill [Nighy] was doing, making all of the relationships work. There are big challenges and I think making them flow evenly and go in and out of each other and making the comedy work with the drama and being able to do both. They were all challenges that I really enjoyed. And going to set with the idea that you had to make something really funny was really, thatís a big challenge.
But donít people say that the key to comedy is not trying to be funny?
See, if the material is funny, than you donít get in the way of the material, but if somebody just says the line, straight and doesnít put anything onto it at all, if you just say it blank, without moving anything of your face, I mean, you have to be invested and you have to understand why it might be funny, I think, for it to expand out and for the laugh to grow. So you know, you just have to get into that headspace.
You have a lot of physical stuff, not like falling or anything, but thereís a lot of reaction shots, just looking at you and you just looked pained, like you find yourself not in your own body.
Exactly, just wondering how have I gotten myself here and all that stuff. Itís Laurel and Hardy type stuff, but thereís so much fun to be had with it. You can feel that if you push the desperation an extra half millimeter. At the same time, you have to remain kind of, attractive enough, not physically, but as a personality that people will still be able to enjoy him and not feel pained for him.
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