If aliens exist and they abducted you, would you rather be in an alien zoo or an alien circus?
Alien circus! I did a bit of acrobatics once upon a time for fun. It taught me something valuable about performance, which is that you just have to go for it. If you prepare to do a flip and you’re about to jump but you don’t fully commit to the move, you’ll break your neck. Also, I love clowning. I believe learning how to be made fun of and appearing ridiculous is really important for actors… It’s a good life skill in general.
Apart from acting, what talent or skill have you learned that has most benefitted your day-to-day life?
I’ve learned how to be organised & efficient… that pretty much helps with everything… Other than the creative, there is a huge part of business in my work, and I like it. I feel like it’s a giant Tetris game. I never know what’s coming but blocks fall, I’ve got to find where to fit them and create some kind of order… I’m very good at Tetris. I play full speed level 16+.
What song(s) will you always associate with a scene from a film?
I’m not referring to specific scenes… but Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang… now automatically associates to Kill Bill for me. [It] has become part of popular culture… Springtime for Hitler in Mel Brooks’s The Producers… the ultimate musical. The theme in Wong Kar-Wai ‘s In the Mood for Love.
What do you always take with you when you leave the house?
Other than my keys, open-mindedness and humour.
If you could have your pick to take anything home with you from where you shot Versailles, what would you pick?
Well, I might well keep it in the realm of clothes and pick this green velvet cape I wear, it has a huge hood… it’s stunning. We are so lucky on the show, all the costumes are custom made (so it sort of feels like it’s mine already) the fabrics and colors picked for each character are so spot on. The costume designer Madeline Fontaine is extremely talented. I think I would just about get away with the cape not looking like it comes from the 17th century if I styled it in a modern way.
If you could be in a music video for any living artist, who would you pick?
After having the incredible honour and very touching experience of being in David Bowie’s Blackstar… it will be a little bit difficult for me to conceive of being in any other music video just now. The last music video I was involved in a few years ago for The Bullitts is called Run & Hide. Funnily enough in it they sampled Bowie’s song Quicksand. I suppose if I did another music video it would be great if it linked too.
If you could have a robot to complete any one task for you, what task would it do?
Massages! If the robot hands felt human… metal on skin might be a little cold.
When you meet someone socially and you’re getting along, what is something that makes you flinch to hear them say or discuss?
I flinch at any form of sexism… Things are changing, and in the film industry too, but men and women… together… still have a lot of work to do.
What was your favourite first experience?
Seeing snow for the first time, and building a snowman with a carrot for a nose. I was so happy.
Say you were given as much money as you needed to oversee the production of a documentary on a subject of your choosing, what would you focus on?
I’d focus on human trafficking, and bringing awareness to the issue. I worked on Hyena with Gerard Johnson and Stephen Woolley, we toured the festivals with the film last year, and we based the character I played on a girl the director met. I knew a lot about the trafficking issues already but playing someone that is a victim of that system and therefore entering the psychology and the emotions of it gave me new insight. I care about the issue immensely. The truth is that talking about prostitution opens up a huge can of worms because it links in with most people… where there is supply, there is demand, and the demands are enormous. Prostitutes, not always, but often, are victims of a system in one way or another, and that’s one thing. Trafficking is something else still. There seems to be such a misconception that it affects people from countries or background that are prone to victimization… but it’s a lot more complex than that. There are very specific techniques that traffickers use to enslave someone… and it’s so easy. Humans beings are strong but the human body and mind are also very easily manipulated… and having ‘acted’ that, I was made hyper aware that in a sense being captive could happen to anyone. I’d keep working, and I am in fact, on bringing awareness to that aspect of the world… I was so stunned at the amount of people that truly have absolutely no clue about it…
What is your most nostalgic possession?
I have a box, with various objects from childhood, my grandparents, some clothes from characters I played, a empty bottle of a discontinued perfume I loved, just to remember the smell, things like that. But they are not ‘nostalgic’, they’ve just been part of the journey and it makes me smile to have them. I try not to think about the past too much, I’d rather look ahead. The older I get the happier I become.
What act do you attribute the most degree of arbitrary ritual?
I count the gas cooker knobs when I leave the house just to make sure they’re off… “1,2,3,4,5,6 “… trouble is I count them a few too many times… I read somewhere that a healthy way humans should introduce themselves to each other is by asking the question: “In what way are YOU crazy?”. It makes sense. Get the quirks out of the way from the offset… I can just about handle mine…
You are trapped in an elevator for 6 hours, you can pick any three people from the film industry to be in the elevator with you, who do you pick? For the sake of comfort let’s assume no-one needs a restroom.
Viggo Mortensen. The first acting job I ever got was a day shoot on a David Cronenberg film, Eastern Promises. Both of them are truly classy, they were the kindest and most generous people to work with. Viggo Mortensen has one of the careers I find most inspiring… successful, multilinguist, in it for the art, true to himself, unpretentious.
The Argentinian actress Ines Efron. I’ve seen her in a few films but I don’t know much about her, I’d just love to meet her to say how good I thought she was when she played a hermaphrodite in XXY. The film came out in 2007. Where’s her Oscar?
Pina Bausch, if she was still alive. Wim Wenders introduced her world to an audience that may not have known about her work in his film Pina, and yet I think her artistic legacy and creativity are so much greater still. In my opinion she is one of the greatest artists of the last century… thankfully her company still tours…
If you could be alive in any time/place in which you’ve played a part, what time/ place would you pick?
I am in Paris at the moment filming season 2 of Versailles… so I’d say here, not in 1672 though… but in 2016… because I like to love where I am right here right now.
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