Basic Instinct 2 (2006) – Q&A with David Thewlis

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Movie Interview by Neils Hesse

David Thewlis plays the role of Roy Washburn.


So what do you like most about the film and your character in particular?

I’ve never played a detective it’s always been a big ambition of mine. It was, I always like to do something different, I always like to try and play something I’ve never played before so playing a Welsh, anal, bent copper was a pleasure. Also to be able to do it in something that had some history to it, I had never seen the original film so I got it out on DVD and I quite enjoyed it and then I read the script and it was you know, good people to work with. I had been offered ROB ROY with Michael Caton-Jones which I didn’t do and that was a regret, and David Morrissey was always someone that I wanted to work with. I mean I know actors always says these things during these interviews but those were the honest two reasons as to why I did it. I didn’t know much about Sharon, I still don’t know much about Sharon but you know that was fun. A lot of people seem to have an opinion about Sharon, I don’t know what she’s been saying out there but she seems to have caused a bit of a stir not just recently but over the years. She’s a little bonkers, but you know in a kind of lovable way, she’s quite nice.

If you had directed it yourself seeing as you are a director what would you have perhaps done a bit differently?

Phew that’s a tough one. Well I mean Michael made a very good job of it. I think he shot London very beautifully. You say since I am a director, I’ve made one film and it’s never been released, I’ve probably mucked it up there. I would probably have really made London look really mundane, kind of like it was in THE BILL, I would not have made it a very erotic place. Also I think I would have done that car crash at the beginning really badly, I would probably just have pranged it on a lamp post and I would probably not have cast Stan Collymore which seems to be quite a casting coup actually. Everyone’s going on about Stan Collymore, you’d think he was the star of the film with the way everyone is going on about him.

What was it like working with Ms Stone?

I actually didn’t work with her that much. If you see the film I’m only in the first scene with her and after that I’m kinda chasing around after her till I come to hook up with her again at the end. So I only did one scene, it was the very first scene we shot in the film. She was very well behaved. She was at my costume fitting suggesting what I should wear which was not as annoying as it may sound because she actually had some good ideas because she has a good idea on how to dress. That’s the honest answer. I can’t speak for everybody else, but in my own personal experience she was perfectly respectful and polite and quite quiet actually, but she’s quite an intense girl and I’m sure that other people can answer that better than me.

Do you prefer the good guy roles or the bad guy roles?

The bad guy roles almost always. I have played a few good guys recently and it’s getting a bit boring, you know HARRY POTTER and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. My characters were just so damn good. I’m not saying that they’re not good films it’s just that I prefer playing someone who’s got a bit of potential to hurt somebody.

Are you planning to direct or write again soon?

I’m writing yeah, I’ve written a novel and I have an idea for a film script that I’m just sort of messing around with. Directing – no not really, we’ll see. I had a bad experience the first time and so I’m quite happy acting. Everything is going very well so I don’t see why I should give myself a bloody hard time by giving myself more stress than I need since this life will do that for you anyway.

Is your approach to preparing for the characters in say a film like this one the same as say doing professor Lupin in HARRY POTTER or [Freddie Mays in] GANGSTER NO 1?

No they’re all different really. For this one, through a friend of mine I met a few bent coppers. I think because of playing a detective I’ve never met a detective but I’ve seen a million of them on the TV and in film. So you think, ‘Oh that’s what a detective is like’, but I’m sure they can’t actually be like that. If a detective came into this room would he really pick up things and look at them and get his notebook out, maybe they do. I just thought to play it from the point of view of a real guy and forget all those other detectives I had experienced. So I went out and met a few corrupt policemen, who I won’t name. Something like GANGSTER NO 1 has a connection actually to the bent coppers. On that film the great train robber Bruce Reynolds was a consultant as was Freddie Foreman one of the henchmen for the Krays and this is how I got to know this underworld of people. Hence I got to meet the bent coppers, actually because I had stayed in touch with Bruce Reynolds and his son who are very good friends to me now. For GANGSTER NO 1 that was more listening to Freddie because he was more akin to my character in that film. Professor Lupin? I didn’t meet any wizards. I didn’t know how to go about that. I sort of based him on an old school teacher because it was more about being a kindly teacher, I mean who knows about how to play a wizard. I just know that he is meant to be a Mr Chips like character and hopefully they are all very different characters. Yeah two of them have got moustaches and one hasn’t!

How do you feel about these types of films, these sexually charged thrillers, do you think that they have been done to death since they reached peaks with films like JAGGED EDGE, BODY HEAT and BASIC INSTINCT?

I’m not really familiar with them, it’s not the sort of thing I’d really go and see so I don’t know. I mean I think this lot can get away with it because it’s a famous sequel so I guess it will get a lot of attention because it’s a sequel to a film that was very famous mainly for one thing which she doesn’t do in this one, in case anyone is wondering. It does look [like she is], she does an approach to it but this time there’s a chair in the way, so I don’t know the answer to the question because it’s not really my kind of film. But you know you have to try everything, you know making a living.

Would you have preferred to play the David Morrissey character “Dr Glass”, in the film?

No because then I would have had sex scenes with Sharon Stone which I really didn’t want to have. It’s hard enough anyway without having to do it with Sharon Stone so actually really no. I was so sorry for David.

Why were you so sorry for David?

Because I just think it would have been a bit scary with Sharon because she is quite an intense woman, and in front of the film crew, I would have felt intimidated. It’s all a little bit strange anyway let alone with Sharon.

Did you have to turn down any films to do this film?

I can’t remember to tell you the truth, I probably did but it was nothing to do with this. Our baby was due three weeks after I finished this and it was contracted so I finished before that was happening because I didn’t want to be on set waiting for a phone call. It was very much planned all around that and seeing as it was all set in London it worked out very nicely. It was the thing that came along that was most attractive and also fitted into that time scale.

Do you have any regrets film wise, bad choices and so on or do you always look at the bright side?

Yeah I have regrets certainly with things that I have done, absolutely. I mean one of the things I would have said at the time was THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU, which was a bleeding nightmare to make. It was 5 months of absolutely horrible stress and it is a shockingly bad film but looking back I am so glad that I did it because it is such a weird film it’s become a bit legendary. I also got to know Marlon Brando and we became quite close and not everyone can say that in their lives, but at the time I was like, oh Jesus! But I’ve got a lot of funny stories and little secrets and I met a great man.

Are you big on the cinema or do you just do DVDs?

I’ve got to be honest with you I do DVDs because I live in Windsor. There’s no cinema in Windsor, our nearest cinema is Slough or Maidenhead. So I get a bit lazy like that.

So would you call this a British film with American money or and American film with British actors?

I always think a film is a film depending on where it’s set and who’s in it so I think it’s a British film really. I think of HARRY POTTER as a British film even though the money comes from Warner Brothers. I mean if you want to call it an American film because of that fair enough but HARRY POTTER is obviously British because it’s written by a British woman and it’s all set in Britain and it’s an entirely British cast and crew. So I think BASIC INSTINCT 2 is a British film whether that’s a good thing or not I don’t know.

Were you happy with the switch of the film to London?

Yeah, I kinda liked that. I liked this in London just because it’s so different to the original. I think that will be the biggest surprise to people because it’s such a dramatic change to the location and I think that Michael Caton-Jones makes it look very attractive especially the gherkin, you know the subtle metaphor of the gherkin.

So do you prefer big films like this or smaller independent ones?

Years ago I would have said smaller independent, because I was getting sick of doing some big films but the past 4 or 5 things I’ve done have all been big numbers and I’ve really enjoyed them. Between HARRY POTTER, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, NEW WORLD and THE OMEN have certainly been high profile films or in the case of NEW WORLD at least a good director, so I can’t really say that anymore because I’ve had a really great time these past few years being in big films and it’s nice to be in things that actually get seen. For a while I was doing things that I really enjoyed but they never really got seen because these big things knock them off the screen, and then you end up saying what’s the bloody point? So it’s nice to actually be working with a good director on a big scale film, getting paid nicely and your films are getting seen and hopefully not embarrassing myself too much, that’s always a worry!

David to divert a little to the upcoming remake of THE OMEN, can you say anything about your character in that film?

Yeah I play Jennings who’s the photographer who in the original discovers the whole thing in the first place and loses his head very famously. We just shot that recently and I’ve seen it, it looks very good, a very good decapitation. I think it has already been hit at by the press just because it’s a remake. Why do you remake a classic? Well I think that the original film is a bit dated and why shouldn’t you do remakes because you do that in theatre all the time you know with a different cast. The main thing about this is that this cast is pretty great – Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Pete Postlethwaite, Mia Farrow, Michael Gambon – there’s not a bad actor in there and let’s not forget me of course! That’s a great cast and it’s a great story, it’s all been updated and there’s a great little guy playing Damian, so I’m hoping that’s going to be a pleasant surprise that one. Hopefully they’ll say why have you done it? And then after they’ve seen it they’ll say, oh wow it’s pretty cool! There’s also a whole generation of people who never saw the original. It’s being released on 06/06/06 which is pretty much the main reason for making it in the first place!