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'Allo Dahlinks, it was with excessive joy that we welcomed the creators of the fabulous film In Bruges into the Temple. Splayed across the cushions to chat up the new film was writer-director and Tony and Olivier award winning-playwright extraordinaire, Martin McDonagh. Joining him was the lovely femme fatale (- and Harry Potter’s own Fleur Delacour) Clémence Poésy, and that rapscallion of the Emerald Isle, the charming and extremely easy on the eyeballs (- even en déshabillé), Mr. Colin Farrell, who should challenge James McAvoy to a swearing match for charity. Bless those potty-mouthed Celts ...

Dig it.

 

 

Martin McDonagh

 

Q: So how did you discover Bruges?

Martin McDonagh: I think I’d seen a picture of it somewhere, but I didn’t really know anything about it. And I just got a train there from London for a weekend trip and I was just sort of struck by how beautiful the place was and strange and gothic and untouched for however many centuries, and I just wondered why it hadn’t ever been used on film before. But I was there for a couple of days and in the middle of the second day, after going to every church three times and every gallery six times, I was just bored out of my head. And I just wanted to get drunk or get laid or anything, but sort of both sides of my brain were arguing; the culture-loving geek and the drunken slut. Then they started becoming characters. I thought why would two guys who had those feelings about the place be in that place, be stuck in that place? So that’s where the idea of the kind of hitman theme came to me and the idea that they’re escaping, or they’ve been sent there to escape a horrific incident that they’ve just been part of. So it was very organic, it came from Bruges organically, pretty much. If we hadn’t been allowed to shoot there, I’d have scrapped the whole thing. I wouldn’t have changed it to another place because it had to be that strange and that beautiful, but also a place that people don’t really know and there’d be no reason to be there. And you can’t really say that for Venice, or Prague, or Paris, or any of those other beautiful towns. It had to be somewhere that every single character says, “Where the fuck is that?”

 

MG: Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson seem to have a wonderful chemistry offscreen, I wondered if that was true? Did you find that their chemistry, which translates so well in this film, caused you to change or rewrite the characters to reflect that as you were filming?  

MM: Yeah, I think it’s palpable just how much they get on and they like each other even in the earlier scenes when they’re bickering, you kind of feel there’s a love between them, which there is. They’d never worked together before this, but I think they’d always wanted to. They’ve always had an awful lot of respect for each other. But no, script wise we had three weeks of rehearsal at the start of the shoot, which is kind of unusual and we got to analyse the script, as well. We didn’t really change – we didn’t change a line, or any of that stuff. I think what they brought to it, one of the many things they brought to it, was that kind of affection and that bond. And it’s almost a love story between the two of them in some ways, y’know? There was probably more in some ways of the story between Colin and the girl, Chloe, more of a love story in that way. But then, once I saw quite how much it was a different kind of love story, we kind of focused on that. But they were great together, and they’re just two lovely guys, but great comedians, too, they’re a barrel of laughs, the funniest people that you’d meet.

MG: So everything we see was scripted? All that fantastic dialog was already in the script?

MM: Yeah I’m kind of arrogant enough as a writer to know if it’s good or it it’s bad, but then kind of stick to the lines but, y’know, there are many hundred of interpretations of most lines. But that’s what the three week rehearsal period was good for; to stick to it,  but know we could play around with it and every scene could be played an in and out and out comic way, or a deeper, more tragic way, or some kind of blend of the two. The bickering scenes – a lot of the early part of the film just felt like it was all bickering, so it can be bickering on the surface, but it doesn’t have to be overplayed, y’know?  I mean that was one of the good things for me, was just like, you can stick to the lines, but then go to still lots of different places with them.

 

Q: Was having that extended rehearsal period helpful coming from your theatre background?

MM: It was invaluable for me. Even though I was terrified going in, I think the guys were, too; I mean it was pretty much just me and Brendan and Colin in a room for three weeks. We just kept adding layers and layers and it turned out to be actually fun. But then it kind of bonded us together and it completely set my nerves at ease. I always thought that I’d be shaking on the first day of filming, but as it turned out because we had it in a right place between the three of us, we could just turn up and knew what we were doing, didn’t have to talk about it and just kind of shot it.

 

Q: People are comparing this film to the work of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino…

MM: I am! And Orson Welles, you didn’t hear that?

Q: Maybe a little, but I wondered if you were a fan of those directors’ films?

MM: Oh, very much so, especially the Coen Brothers are a really big - I don’t know influence, but I’ve always loved them. I remember seeing Blood Simple when it came out and that was probably, ’83, 84, maybe, so I was 13 or 14… Would it be that year? Something round then, 85?  And I liked Tarantino’s earlier ones, too, the dialog certainly. But then lots of other people, lots of older people, Orson Welles, honestly, Peckinpah and Kurosawa and people like that. Cos film was always kinda my first love; I mean I fell into playwriting, but I never really had a love for it as a kid. I was never brought up on it. So, the Coens and Tarantino and people like that, I don’t know if they influenced it in any special way … There’s a clip of and Orson Welles film in the middle, Touch of Evil, so it’s kind of a nod of the head to the greatest long take probably in cinema. But then there’s also little nod of head to Nic Roeg and Don’t Look Now, and that’s kind of more about… the whole template of this was trying to capture a town on film in all it’s creepy glory. So, Don’t Look Now is a sort of perfect template for that; to go back and see he how he shot Venice, was it just characters on a backdrop, or did he go from a building to a character? All those sort of things are sort of interesting lessons.

 

Q: Had you ever thought to make one of your plays into a film first?

MM: I always that whole idea of making plays into films. I think it’s just always just done for the money; it’s never done for the art. They usually make bad ones every time. Also, even though I came to theatre with something of a disrespect for it in certain ways, I kinda thought you should be true to it as an art form, and the way to be true to it is not think of it as the blueprint for a movie, If you’re true to it as an art form, you’re gonna try to get it right on stage and if there’s a gunfight, you’ll get it perfectly right, you won’t think, ‘We’ll kinda do it half-heartedly, and when Tarantino comes to film it, we’ll get it right then.’ You’ve gotta just be true to your art form, y’know, and not think about the cash.

 

Q:  Can you talk about casting Colin Farrell in this role that’s very different for him?

MM: There’s something kinda sexy and dangerous, certainly, that I wanted the character to have. And likeable, y'know? But I was kinda more interested in the other aspects of the character, which is certainly the outrageous comedy, but also the kind of sadder, more vulnerable sort of aspects, which … actually, when you meet Colin, you see there’s a lot more of that than you’d have maybe suspected from the myth of the press and all that kind of stuff. But also the first time I met him to talk about it, he didn’t talk about a comedy or the plot, he just talked about the idea that this is a character who’s trying not to commit suicide for three days. This is exactly what kind of I wanted to hear cos he didn’t have to worry about playing a comedy, I knew he’d play the truth of it at first, and the truth of that character is suicide and despair. So it was great to hear, but he’s such a lovely guy to get along with. He’s a kind of nurturing kind of person, too. This wouldn’t be the film it is without his help of me. I certainly didn’t direct him very much at all. I didn’t coax any kind of performance out of him. Pretty much my whole thing was to create good characters and not get in the way of good actors performing them. And that’s pretty much how it worked out.

 

Q: How did you face the challenges of putting this, your first feature film together?

MM: It was very much finding good people who liked the script and getting the right D.P. and production designer and making sure those would know that I didn’t know everything about camera and lenses and all that kind of stuff. To be understanding about what I did or didn’t know, couldn’t bring to it. The visual side of it was something I had to teach myself an awful lot. Pretty much the original script was as-is; characters and plot and dialog exactly as-is, but it wasn’t broken down into shots or images, so that was like a whole new thing for me to sit down and practise. And just draw, I drew them all myself and just thought about how a scene works on film, how a cameraman moves, what images to see, what angles to see. So I did all that and brought ‘em to the D.P and every morning we’d talk about ‘em, and then we’d block the scenes and the locations threw up an awful lot of images and ideas, too.

 

Q: What did you think of Colin’s finished performance as Ray?

MM: I think he’s great in this. I think he shows an awful lot of sides to him than people may have known. I think he’s hilariously funny in it, too, but he never played it – I mean, that was always the worry, that anyone would try and play it with a nod and a wink, but just playing it true was always the most important thing. That’s what they did I think. Ralph {Fiennes} too, Ralph hasn’t really done comedies very much, but I think he’s great in it too.

 

Q:  Can you talk about casting Ralph in that role which is so far from anything he’s ever done.

MM: That was exactly it. It was just to have someone in that part who hadn’t. There are a few actors who obviously play the London gangster, a heavy, hundreds of times. I didn’t want that, I wanted someone who was much more surprising. Even the whole comedy element’s a surprise from him. He’s never actually run around shooting a gun in a film before, too – maybe a bit of Schindler’s List, but um… (laughs)  But certainly it was casting against type and seeing where that would bring that character to. But then there’s such an intensity and a darkness to a lot of Ralph’s performances that was great to tap into, too. I mean he can play scary really well. (laughs)

 

MG: There’s a lot of violence in the film that is sort of in your face and unflinching. You plays are also known for being confrontational and provocative, did any of that reflect in your chose to make the violence in In Bruges as graphic as is it? Did you have any hesitation in creating certain shots like the fall from the tower or the shootings?

MM: No, I always just wanted to make that stuff as true and horrific, as… but not in an in-your-face kind of confrontationally. Shooting people is disgusting and I just wanted to show that more than anything. But, I mean you shoot an awful lot of material and they reserved cuts of the film and just the fall from the tower was actually a lot more bloody…

MG: Eek! 

MM: Yeah, yeah (laughs), but I kind of tried to glimpse some of it as much as possible, but then not shy away from how ugly all that stuff actually is. I think Peckinpah always used to have that kind of stuff; he’d seen war – I mean I haven’t – but he always wanted to try and break away from the Hollywood convention of someone getting shot five times and not seeing a speck of blood or even pain. So it was just kind of trying to address those things, y’know guys shooting guys isn’t much fun.

 

Q: Were the characters always meant to be Irish?

MM: Nope, originally they were sort of written to be all three London gangsters, but when I got the chance to work with Colin and Brendan I didn’t want that stupid barrier of having to do London accents when they were both Irish, and it’s not much of a leap; there’s so many Irish people in London.

 

 

Colin Farrell & Clémence Poésy

 

Q: Martin McDonagh mentioned to us that you actually suggested he make the film with a cast of unknowns. Why did you do that instead of lobbying to play in the film yourself?

Colin Farrell: I’m just an incredibly generous person, obviously. No, in all seriousness, especially with the advent of all these magazines, y’know, celebrity mags and internet websites and blogs and stuff, y’know, the line between the audience and the people that they’re playing good money to see is kind of disappearing. And I know that I obviously come with a certain amount of baggage, I suppose, or a particular persona or certain opinions before the first reel was shown. And I thought the script was that good, I said, “I really love it, I’d love to do it but I really think you should cast an unknown.” Thank God he told me it was hogwash. I wanted to read for it. I said “If you want to audition me, I mean, I’ll do anything to do it, but my two pence is cast an unknown.”

 

Q: Did you have to work on the comedy in the film or was it just a case of showing up and it worked?

CF: It was just a really funny script, y'know. Just the situations and the dialog were kinda hilarious …hilarious situations. We had a great laugh doing it, we had a really good time, but we had to get inured to how hilarious the script was ourselves, because really, the characters have no idea how endearingly funny they’re being at times and how outlandish the things they’re saying, particularly Ray, the things they’re saying are. So even in rehearsal there was a lot of laughter and a lot of breaking up trying to read through scenes there was a lot of - couldn’t get through them a lot of the time until literally then stop being funny and we could get to the serious element that is inherent in the piece. Which is it’s a very dramatic piece as well, y’know and there’s a lot of big questions raised and there’s a lot of guilt, and a lot of remorse, and a lot of shame and all that kind of stuff, so anytime I was doing it I didn’t really see it as a comedy. Although there was a couple times there was some funny stuff.

 

Q: Can you tell us about your experience in Bruges itself?

CF: It’s a beautiful city, y’know, it really is a gorgeous, gorgeous place, but when we got there it was the middle of winter. It was dark at 4:00 in the afternoon and the streets – there was no tourists and it’s not a heavily populated city, so the streets were very desolate; which kind of for me, selfishly, gave me a platform that was fairly easy to traverse to adopt the energy, or lack thereof, of the city, the kinda creepier element to it. Y’know, cobblestone streets and there would be a fog lying low over the canal from time to time. It was very Dickensian or very Jack-the-Ripperlike about it, y’know, that kind of era, so that was nice. And then in the spring it changed, it was really beautiful; busloads of tourists and a lot of energy. But I loved it, Martin wouldn’t have made the film if he wasn’t allowed to shoot it in Bruges, I know he wouldn’t have, cos Bruges was really the first cast member, really. It wasn’t like he wrote a script about two hitmen and then went ‘Oh where the fuck am I gonna shoot it? Oh, Bruges is cool I’ll do it there.’ He was in Bruges and his feelings on the city as I’m sure he told you had such a split; there was one half of him that really loved it and loved the kind of majestic quality to it and the otherworldly feel, and the other half of him was bored out of his tits within about a day. And then he went, ‘Hm, I wonder,’ and then in his own mad way he wrote these characters.

 

Q: It’s surprising that you haven’t worked with Brendan Gleeson before; you have a great rapport in the film.

CF: Just easy, man, it was just easy, y’know? It just kind of made sense from day one. I mean, I’d kind of met him briefly a few times. But we were all there for the same reasons; there was no ego or messing around – well, there was plenty messin’ around - but there was no ego or it was never going to be a pissing contest or anything like that. We were all there for the right reasons, to do the best job we possibly could. He was just really lovely and very generous, as well. Curious, he’s very curious to get in and get underneath it all, so we share that.

 

Q: You and Clémence had a lovely rapport as well; will you both tell us about working together?

CF: Well, if I had more energy, I’d blush.

Clémence Poésy: Does it take energy to blush?

CF: I dunno, I’m just talking shite. You should know that after our rapport that that’s what I do. It was easy. It was easy.

CP: It was cool, yeah. We had that great time before we started the film to just, like Colin said, laugh about the scenes and enjoy just the fact of saying those words and do that together. And once we started shooting it was really, really easy.

CF: It was tasty stuff to chew up those words, it was tasty stuff. And it was easy, as I said, like there was no attitude and there was no dividing line between the cast and crew. It really did feel like as much of a collective experience as a film can feel, cos sometimes the beast can be pretty big in itself and it can have a certain level of impersonality to it and this was not the case.

 

MG: There’s a big emotional scene when Ray comes to terms with what he’s done, what was that like to act out? And when you do a scene like that are you able to just walk away from it?

CF: That was one of those scenes where you just pray they don’t call you up and go, it {the film} just went through an X-ray at the airport it’s fucked, we have to do it again; that’s one of them ones and it’s happened. Where ya just … it’s nice to actually just get through it - Which isn’t like saying you’re wishing the work away, or anything like that. You know and you accept that a scene like that is coming up and you understand it when you read it, but it really is nice to be able to put behind you. And then you walk away from it, yeah? You might, I dunno, sit on your own or sit amongst as many people as you can find, or whatever your particular way is; read, sing, listen to music, go for a nap, whatever, eat. That’s all, it just washes away.

 

Q: Clémence, can you tell us how you got involved with the project. There are a lot of French actresses who would love to play the leading lady opposite Colin.

CF: How do you know that a lot of French actresses? Have you talked to French actresses?

Q: All of them, they all say it. Every one of them.

CF: Sure you have. Sure, okay, sorry. I sit corrected.

CP: It’s like the election, they’ve made statistics.

CF: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah… Except Carla Bruni, because she’s happy where she is, she’s okay where she is.

CP: Very simply, Martin came to Paris and I think auditioned a few actresses, and we read one of the scenes. And I went to London two weeks after to read another scene and that was it. I remember reading the script before that first read-through and thinking ‘God this is – I just really wanna do it. It’s not gonna work.’ It was really nice to be able to think, ‘Wow there’s a rhythm’ you’ve got material to play with. It was just fun.

 

Q: Colin, In Bruges is quite a change of pace for you, playing this comedic character. Do you see yourself doing more comedies or even romantic comedies in the future?

CP: With French actresses? (laughs)

CF: I don’t know, there’s so many… It’s a whole career there, I could do the next 60 years if I live that long, and I still won’t get through the amount of French actresses that are begging to work with me obviously. Em, we’ll start off with Catherine Deneuve, by the way.

I don’t know, man. I’ve read through the years some romantic comedies, and I just personally didn’t really find them to be that romantic nor funny, so that’s kind of a problem. I would not cancel anything out; the whole idea is to experience different journeys, I suppose and be privy to other lives and other perspectives that you may not be otherwise. I mean, that’s one of the gifts of the whole thing, but I dunno… This, as I said, it was nice this, because it was less… with as much despondency as there was in Ray’s journey, it was less maudlin than some of the things I’ve done, less dour. That goes back to what Clémence was saying about the playfulness of Martin’s writing.

 

MG: Colin, since your “In Bruges” costars, Clémence, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes are all in the Harry Potter series; do you think you would be interested in doing a Harry Potter film?

CF: Harry Potter? I would love to do that. I'd love to do that. I’d love to do that. I fuckin' never get the calls for that, the good stuff like that.  

MG: You've got three stars of the films that could hook you up with the casting agent.

CF: I'll get on it, man.

MG: Clémence, your Harry Potter character, Fleur, is very present in each of the last two books, have you been approached about returning for film 6 or 7?

CP: I'm definitely not doing the sixth, cos they're shooting now. And I think they {the filmmakers} kind of have to make choices because the books are getting bigger and the film can't last for five hours. And I don't know what's going to happen with the 7th, so...

CF: Get Terry Malick to direct it!

CP: (laughs) That would be cool. Would you give him a ring?

 

MG: Colin what projects do you have coming up?

CF: I dunno, luv. Hopefully go back to work on a thing in April, and that’s it, really. I haven’t worked since Bruges. It’s been a long time.

 

Q: Is Pride and Glory done? Will that be coming out soon?

CF: That is done. That was done before Bruges and Cassandra {Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream- click here to read Dollie’s review}. Yeah, a while ago, and they just pushed it now ‘til 2009. There’s this rumour going around that it’s cos its a mess, or its a really bad film, and I feel the need to speak up against that. Not for my own end, but literally, genuinely for Gavin O’ Connor’s, cos he wrote and directed it and it was his vision again. And it’s not - it’s a really, really strong piece, but I think New Line lost their bollocks on The Golden Compass. It didn’t make anything and it lost a lot. And they literally are like, “We haven’t got the money to market things” and Pride is a tricky one to market anyway, it’s fairly dark.

 

Q: Have you seen it yet?

CF: I’ve seen it, yeah. Gavin did a great job. Jon Voight’s brilliant in it and Ed’s {Norton} great in it, and it’s a really strong cast. I dunno, man, I dunno what they’ll do with it. I’ve got not idea about that end of the business.

 

MG: Both In Bruges and Cassandra’s Dream are smaller, more personal films. You’re known for being in very expensive, big movies. At this stage in your career do you find that you’re actively pursuing smaller, more script-driven films?

CF: I always even before I ever started acting, I always kinda had a fairly keen interest in people and the world and the way we are, and all that stuff, even as a kid, and always loved observing. So with that in mind - I dunno, this wasn’t carpentered that way, y’know?

 

MG: What are some of the pressures of doing those blockbuster films versus a smaller one?

CF: I am aware of the pressure, y'know, if you’re in a big film. I am aware, I mean you’d like to keep it pure and go, ‘It’s  all about the work, it’s all about the work,’ but at the end of the day, if someone’s spending a hundred and fifty fuckin’ million dollars, y’know, on a film, y'know, a bunch of people, there is a pressure there that the film performs. Then it becomes about box office and the opening weekend. I wish I was stronger, that I wasn’t susceptible to feeling that pressure, but I am and I have been. And, you know the last few were certainly more pure … I don’t wanna say more purely about the work, but with Oliver {Stone}it was very purely about the work, and with Michael Mann it’s very purely about the work, but there is just a lack of pressure which is quite delicious in doing a smaller film.

 

Q: In The New World, you really got to stretch by playing a character who had to express a lot without much dialog. Did you find that hard to do?

CF: That was a nice piece, yeah. Well, y’know, hard is fun. We’re so fortunate doing the job that we do, that for me personally, I don’t necessarily ever strive for comfort, it isn’t really the goal. Comfort’s not the goal. But it wasn’t, I mean again it’s not slave labour. It’s an honour and privilege every time you get to do it. Whether you’re shooting a gun and saying “Freeze, hands up,” or you’re delving a little bit deeper than it takes to do that. It should always be some element of enjoyment or exposure.

 

MG: Colin, you’ve worked with some phenomenal directors, has that inspired you to maybe try your hand at directing a film?

CF: It’s inspired me to stay the fuck away from the idea of it! Em, no, I dunno, I mean I’ve thought of it, sure, but y’know, I’m still trying to figure out this acting thing.

 

Q: Colin, a few years ago you were wearing bracelets up your arms and next thing every guy on the street had them.

CF: Really? (Looks amazed)

 (Clémence laughs)

 

Q: It seems like things you wear set trends on the street. Are you at all fashion conscious?

CF: I’m sitting to the right of an incredibly chic French woman and you ask me that question and I look like this.

 

 

~ Mighty Ganesha

February 4th, 2008

 

 

 

 

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