The movie, which opens Friday, is based on
With a hurricane bearing down, an uncooperative doctor (
A: That's right. The sheer nature of the narrative was extremely complex and a kind of balancing act. Teddy has a very complicated past, and the whole movie deals with his memories, which can also be interpreted as dreams. Scorsese wanted to emphasize a layer of ambiguity with the character and the storyline. I don't think he wanted it to be a gimmicky ending or one of those popcorn reveals.
Q: The story also takes you to an incredibly dark place that I had never seen depicted in a movie quite in this manner.
A: What struck me about doing this character and this story as a whole is how incredibly emotional it was and how much it explored the dark side of humanity. At the end of the day, this movie is really a character piece. All of the genre stuff — the Gothic horror and thriller aspects of it — sort of dissolve away as you get down to the core of the movie, which is human trauma and the ability to recover from that. Or not.
Q: When I first heard Scorsese was going to direct"
A: I know what you mean. I wasn't even prepared for
it when I watched it as an audience member. That's the great thing
about working with a director like
Q: A lot of directors with careers as long as Scorsese's tend to peak at a certain point, and then their films start showing the director's age. But Scorsese is still experimenting and trying new things at 67. There's a long shot in this movie that pans from left to right as a group of Nazi prisoners is being executed that made my jaw drop. It's a beautifully directed movie.
A: He's constantly pushing himself, even though he's
made so many movies. A part of me is regretful in some sense, because
I'm so focused on what I have to do when I'm working with him that I
don't get a chance at all to hang out on the sidelines and watch his
process. A lot of that experience — being able to watch
Q: You've worked with an impressive roster of directors —
A: It's hard to explain his process. There's nothing distinctive about the way Scorsese directs that is much different or far superior to other directors of his caliber. But there's an undercurrent to what he's doing that's almost intangible. You can't put your finger on it. It's the way he deals with his actors, the way he edits small little moments and holds them, the way he'll push in with the camera in a way that's almost undetectable. And then when you see all the pieces of the puzzle, they make a beautiful tapestry. He's working on so many different levels simultaneously.
The one thing I can say with absolute clarity that is definitive about him is that he gives the actor complete authority with your character — lets you take responsibility. Even if you go off in a different direction that he doesn't feel is right for the film, he'll let you go there and discover that for yourself, because he expects his actors to ultimately help him with the movie he's trying to make. He explores the movie through his actors, and that's amazing. And kind of rare.
Q: You've played some fairly intense characters in Scorsese's movies. How has that experience affected your approach to acting as a whole? Do you work differently now or look for different things in scripts than you did before?
A: One thing I've learned is to be open to discovering the character as you are making the film. Scorsese and I both came into this film knowing very much what the genre was and what kind of film we were making stylistically. But we didn't really understand what emotional depths we needed to go until we were on the set that day. There was a scene in the script that was very simply described, and it wasn't until we were getting ready to shoot it that I said "Wow, this is actually the most important moment in the entire movie!" And Marty said "Yep, it is." And I realized on the spot that I would really need to push it. I can't talk specifically about what that scene is, because it gives away too much of the movie. But that whole sequence by the lake is some of the most intense work I have ever done in my LIFE.
(c) 2010, The Miami Herald.