THE PRESTIGE - On the red carpet at the London premiere
Movie Interviews by Siobhan Daly
Guy Fawke's night saw a sparkling display of A-list stars illuminate the firmament of Leicester Square, London for the premiere of Christopher Nolan's new thriller, THE PRESTIGE.
The stellar cast, including Christian Bale (who sadly didn't turn up), Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson drew both the crowds and celebs out on a particularly frosty Sunday evening. Among the crowds that turned up to watch the film were Maureen Lipman, actress Josefina Gabrielle, Michael Winner, Irina Abromovich and Dorrit Moussaieff, wife of the president of Iceland.
Jensen Button, in a particularly screwed-up jumper, admitted he was there as he was a "big fan of Christian Bale" but also owned up that "Scarlet Johansson is here as well so I thought it would be good fun". Jensen also let us in on his Christmas holiday plans, revealing, "I have a big family of about sixteen, I think my parents went at it like rabbits." At least he'll be getting a lot of presents.
MAKE ME A SUPERMODEL host Rachel Hunter also attended and was insisting that on the show there are no secrets kept from the viewers: "You really see everything that is going on." Although she coyly admitted that she couldn't choose a favourite actor in the film as "they're all so good", she did say that she was really looking forward to seeing the film.
However, the crowd outside was really jostling to see the film's cast.
In only her second feature film role, 24 year-old Rebecca Hall (daughter of the world-renowned director Sir Peter Hall) takes a lead role in the film as Christian Bale's wife Sarah. Strikingly tall and understatedly beautiful, the lovely and charming actress commented on how ironic she had found filming London in L.A: "The film's meant to be North London which is near where I live anyway but it was great to be filming on the back lots of Universal." When asked what she thought was so attractive about the work of Christopher Nolan, she said, "He is very good at telling stories that spark human interest. He includes elements of action but at heart about a good yarn. It's not very often you get scripts as good as this. I'm spoilt to have been able to make such a good film when only been making films for about a year." Lucky indeed.
Director Christopher Nolan let us know that it took a lot of begging and pleading to get the reclusive David Bowie on board as the visionary scientist Nikolas Tesla. "I had to fly to New York to seek him out and convince him. He was only person I could imagine playing that part."
"I don't tend to think of actors when I'm writing though. My brother and I spent five years working on the script, so once we had finished, then we started looking around but it became incredibly obvious that Christian was right for his role. I had never worked with Hugh Jackman before but I needed someone with a great stage presence as well as a great movie actor, and Hugh is very much both."
With THE PRESTIGE, he said, "I've tried to capture some of the sense of mystery and suspense that a great magic show does." Judging by the response of the audience following the screening, he may well have achieved his objective.
Nolan also let us in on some secrets for THE DARK KNIGHT, the much anticipated sequel to the hugely successful BATMAN BEGINS, due to be released in 2008. With Christian Bale reprising his role as Batman and Michael Caine back as his butler Alfred Pennyworth, the cast signed up already include Gary Oldman and Heath Ledger as The Joker. "I should be further along on the script for THE DARK KNIGHT. We're basically moving on from where the last story ended; it's a pretty logical progression."
Nolan is known for re-hiring his actors and both Michael Caine and Christian Bale appear in THE PRESTIGE. Nolan said, "It's a privilege for me to work with actors like Sir Michael Caine and Christian Bale as they take what they do very seriously, but not themselves seriously. They are really wonderful to work with. That combination of professionalism and talent, if you find that, as a director, you'll do anything you can to work with them again."
Bona-fide British acting legend Sir Michael Caine, accompanied by his wife and daughter, received an especially warm welcome at the premiere. He was drawn out of semi-retirement by the chance of working with Christopher Nolan and the quality of the script. "I rarely get a script like this. I couldn't believe my luck. My only regret is that with this movie, unlike everybody else, I can never see it for the first time not knowing what is going to happen as I do. I know who did it. The butler did it!"
On the forthcoming Batman film, he said that although he hasn't seen the script yet, the widow of the original writer of Batman told him that he had written a special scene, one Caine hopes will make the final cut. "She said the butler gets dressed up as Batman to act as a decoy and he goes on his own to get the bad guys round the back of the woods. I think that dressing up as Batman would be great." Hopefully Christopher Nolan was listening.
Sadly, he couldn't give any advice for any aspiring actors though. "I never give advice, you know why advice is free? Because that's what its worth."
Another great British actor in THE PRESTIGE is Andy Serkis. He is fast making a name for himself as one the most outstandingly talented and capable actors in the industry. Already embedded in cinematic lore as THE LORD OF THE RING's Gollum, and more recently as KING KONG, he said that this role had been good fun. "It was great to be with David Bowie. He's a bit elusive though." He also added, "This is a brilliantly written film that it was great to be a part of." High praise from an actor who has worked with Peter Jackson.
The screams hit a high with the arrival of Scarlett Johansson. Much to her credit, she spent time walking around with little on other than diamonds and a long cream chiffon dress.
In the film she has a convincing English accent as magician's assistant Olivia Wenscombe. "I perfected my accent by eating lunch with Michael Caine everyday. That was really how I practised."
Although the leading lady in many films at the young age of 21, she still found that "this was a lot of fun as it gave me an opportunity to be on stage. It's very theatrical and I love that stuff. It was a wonderful job. This was particularly fabulous and the cast was fabulous."
In the film, she plays the love interest of both Hugh Jackman's Robert Angiers and Christian Bale's Alfred Borden. As a true lady, she remarked, "I can't choose between the two men it would be like choosing between two pairs of Jimmy Choos - I just couldn't. They both appear shirtless and were working out pretty hard but the ladies might prefer David Bowie - you never know."
She was delighted by the reception that she had received: "I think that the fans here are really fantastic. Here they are waiting around in the freezing cold and cheering and that's great. I think that the British appreciate cinema and they celebrate that. It's nice to come to a place where you feel welcomed at a big celebration like this."
Australian actor Hugh Jackman also spent a long time walking around greeting the public waiting outside the cinema. When he came over to chat to PHASE9, he let us know that his production company is producing the new film due in 2008 to be based on the life of Wolverine as a prequel to X-MEN. "I'm thrilled. I think that this will be the definitive film about that character."
As an actor at the top of his career, he has found that it had become easier to choose scripts. "I am very lucky to have worked with great directors. It's the director as much as the script. It's hard to say no to someone like Christopher Nolan. I've had some great opportunities."
He also built a good rapport on set with Christian Bale. "Christian has a 19 month-old and I have a 15 month-old daughter so we spent most of our time talking about pooey nappies and thing like that."
As the magician Angiers, Jackman learnt and performed many of his own tricks. As an accomplished stage actor, he also had his own thoughts on the performing of magic tricks. "It makes us think about the impossible. If you watch people's faces, it doesn't matter how old they are, they turn into little kids. I think for a magician that's addictive. They have that control over people and people loved to be fooled. I think essentially the audience love to feel there is something beyond reason. If something doesn't make sense, you watch their eyes light up."
As the stars glided into the cinema, the crowds outside were left wondering if all the hype was justified. However, those inside the premiere were lucky enough to find out. Discover for yourself when the film is released. As Alfred Borden would say, "Are you watching closely?"