BASIC INSTINCT 2 - Q&A with David Morrissey
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
What drew you to the role?
Well I had been a big fan of the first film, I'd seen it when it first came out and I really enjoyed it, and I was in London doing a film called Stoned. So then I got the call from my agent to go and see Michael Caton-Jones for BASIC INSTINCT 2 and my first thought was that that's been a long time coming and I wondered why it had taken so long. I read the script and I really enjoyed it, the film was set in New York when I read it, but I knew when I read it that they were going to transpose it to London. I found that real sort of sexual thriller in the script and I responded to it and to Michael Caton-Jones in a big way. Michael and I got on very well immediately. Michael is a big, straight talking Glaswegian guy and we shared a passion for football and things like that. Then they flew me to LA to see Sharon and I met Sharon. I think that she was meeting about 5 or 6 actors on that particular day and I was one of them. We got on very well and so all these things drew me to it.
Is there anything about your character in the film that you would have liked to change in anyway?
That's an interesting question, because when you look at any character there's things that you would expect. You look at a character and you think God I wish that he'd behave like this, but then that would make him a different character. One has to be careful about those questions because you think it would be a nicer decision for me to go a certain way with a character but is that what the actual character himself would do. There are certainly a lot of things that I wish he wouldn't do but it wouldn't have made it a good film or a good character to play. The restrictions he puts on himself, the mind set he's in, that's what makes him interesting. There would have been easier and smarter choices for him but those would not have made him the character he is, so no I don't think so.
Were you hesitant about the nudity and the explicit sex scenes in the film?
No, not really. I think that it would have been odd for me to have been reading a film called BASIC INSTINCT 2 and be surprised that it had no sex scenes and nudity in it, I think that's part of it.
So no I wasn't. I think that you have to be prepared for that, so it was fine by me.
So if you were offered another sexually charged thriller would you take it?
Well again you'd have to look at the story itself and the context it's set in. I think that with any scene and any film you look at the character, the story and if they interest you then where those characters go you accept it. However when anything strikes you as gratuitous or unnecessary then one wouldn't want to do that. But I have no embarrassment about doing things that as an actor you are called on to do, as long as you believe in the film.. It is always a matter of trust, any film is a leap of faith, you have to get involved in it because you are there and are employed to do things to the best of your ability. The script and the director have to make it clear from the onset that this is where they want you to go. Michael made it very clear from the early onset that it was going to involve a lot of sex and nudity and I said that I was fine with it.
So what do you think about the genre in general, all these sexually charged thrillers that after peaks like JAGGED EDGE, BASIC INSTINCT and FATAL ATTRACTION there seem to be several poorly done rehashes, do you think that maybe this sort of film has been done to death?
It's interesting because so much time has gone between these two films, 14 years is a long time. I am hoping that this film attracts a new audience. I think that people who are aware of the first film will come to see it through beings fans of the genre or of the first film but I am hoping that a whole new audience will come to it as well, I think that the story is strong so it holds up on it's own enough to attract people. It's like music or any art form when something does well then people sort of try to want to repeat things. They can reinvent the wheel so much and then they have to drop it and somebody else comes along with their own spin. Each genre has its time. It's very interesting at the moment to see things like THE HILLS HAVE EYES, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, FINAL DESTINATION, there seems to be a resurgence of that type of movie coming out and you never know whether the market or the public is driving that trend. Hopefully this film is tapping into something that is about to happen again.
Any aspirations to direct?
I am a director. I have directed two things for the BBC; PASSER BY and something else called SWEET REVENGE. I have my own production company which did a co-production of a Patrice Leconte film called L'HOMME DU TRAIN, and we just produced a Swedish film called OFFSIDE and I am just producing a film called SPARKLE which is being done up in the north-west. At the end of the year I will be directing a film called THE CARNAL ARTIST.
Are they all to be released in the cinema?
Yes all of them will have a cinema release.
So does this signal a move to Hollywood for you?
Just after this one I did another Hollywood film with Hilary Swank called the REAPING which is a horror film that was filmed down in Louisiana. I think that one hopes that people get to know you and then you get a broader choice in your work. But I don't know whether it signals a move, one just hopes that each piece of work does well and whatever leads from that is up to yourself really. As an actor all you want is more choice in your work and if this opens up more choice then that's great!
What's your favourite part in the film?
My favourite sequence are the scenes that Sharon and I have in the office because given the nature of filming we filmed them all in one block in about a week and a half. I like the progression within those scenes of how the characters change. The fact that at one point you think that one character has control and then the other character is in control and as an audience you're constantly wondering who has the ball, who is in charge. There's a part within that where she disappears saying that she's not going to have therapy anymore. Then we see him in his office just dealing with other clients or just sitting on his own and the clock is ticking. I quite like that sequence of him suddenly being out of control, lonely and sort of not functioning. She's really got under his skin. I think that any of us watching it regardless of our job or whatever, we recognise that point of our lives when someone has got under our skin and they've left us and nothing is the same anymore. You just can't have a cup of tea or get onto a bus or anything, people are talking to you and you are not slightly listening. This obsession is building and I think that it's a very recognisable point in the film for everybody watching it, you think "God I've been there". That was important for me to get that, when I saw it I was pleased with that little bridge between emotions for him and I think that it works well.
What do you like most about your character in the film and as such what do you dislike about him?
I like the fact that he's professional, he does his job, he's slightly work obsessed, but I like the fact that he's trying hard to do something. What I find endearing but it's also a quality that's quite maddening about him, is he's quite blindsided by his own arrogance to be seen as intellectually superior to everybody else and that's something that Sharon's character taps into. I think the fact that he's an analyst who wants to be seen and taken seriously in this world, he wants to be thought of as a really happening psycho analyst. But she's able to blindside him with that, I think that he can never get over the fact that when she walks into his office, she is potentially a fantastic paper, she is something that he can write down and I think that the decision he makes to take her on is his downfall. He doesn't have a lot of humility and it's an odd thing for me because I quite like that as a character to play but I don't like that characteristic in him.
What would you say is your favourite sexually charged thriller?
I really liked the first film, I thought FATAL ATTRACTION was great as well but without a doubt the best sexually charged thriller is BODY HEAT. It stars William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, it's a noir film set in the 80s but it's a really great sexually charged thriller, I love that film.
Did you have to hit the gym for your nude scenes?
Yes I did. I think there's two things for that, one was my own personal vanity and the other one was his vanity, I thought that this is a guy who would be doing that. I am probably just dressing it all up it was probably more my vanity than his.
Do you think that London was the right place for this film?
Yes I do and I think the way it was filmed by Michael shows a new modern city. The opening sequence with Sharon in the car at first glance you might think is in Manhattan, the way it looks. Michael plays with the different architecture very well, the whole psycho analytical world is set in more of a Dickensian like London and the Sharon/Catherine Trammell world is much more in this modern Norman Foster like London which I think is wonderful filming.
Ultimately do you prefer doing big films like this or the smaller ones?
I don't have to make that choice really. I enjoy playing good complex characters, I don't mind who they are, they could be on the radio. Obviously I like the work I am doing to be seen by people. I like it to have an audience but I never look at a film and think God it's a big Hollywood epic. I think what's this character like? I hope that I carry on like that.