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Trainspotting's Robert Carlyle talks
about his new movie, The 51st State, he made
in Liverpool with Samuel L Jackson.
Having made such an impression in Cracker all those
years ago, here you are playing a fanatical Liverpool
A: "It's the second time I've played a Liverpool
supporter. I'm very lucky actually, in the cities
that I've been to and the teams that I've been affiliated
Q: But you seem able to ring the changes in the type
of characters you play, does that make it hard for
Hollywood to pigeonhole you?
"I suppose in Hollywood they're probably not
quite sure what to make of me, where to place me.
But that's always been my goal, to try and remain
floating. It's very difficult not to be pigeonholed,
though every actor is to a greater or lesser extent."
Q: The 51st State manages to combine toughness with
comedy, does that balance cause you any problems?
"The older I get the more concerned I get about
violence in films. It gets tedious, but I can't complain,
I don't have much to say because I've made a living
from it. There's violence and there's violence. I
don't think there's anything in this film that is
beyond peoples comprehension. Certainly not with
my own character."
Q: More surprising, perhaps, is the sight of Samuel
L. Jackson, in a kilt.
"That was very strange, his bravery knows no
bounds. By the time we finished it was December in
Liverpool, so it was freezing. I didn't ask what he
was wearing underneath, I presumed it was what you
were supposed to wear underneath. He liked it I
think, the whole look was great for him, he enjoyed
the big sweaters and big socks and boots and stuff.
The golf bag fitted very well on his shoulder, because
he's a golf fanatic,a real golf addict."
Is it fun going toe-to-toe with actors like that?
"You've got to know what you're doing with these
guys, because they're very powerful. He's physically
very strong and very tall. Of course you play on that
too, I'm not as small as people think I am, but you
play on it. In those sequences, I think the one in
particular I remember is on the barge where we're
bawling at each other. I really enjoyed it, I got
off on that."
Did he enjoy being part of a British film, shooting
"Well I don't think he had any problems fitting
in. He wouldn't go out that often, but occasionally
you'd hear he'd been out on the town. But I like Liverpool
a lot, I always feel welcome there and Cracker is
what most people there remember me from I think. There's
been a real bond to the city since that time."
What are the principles behind you taking on any role?
A: "My relationship is with the director or producer,
on any film. That's the same, or it should be, for
any actor. The priority is with the director and the
cast you've got about you, and the first thing that
should have attracted you all is the script. If you
can get those three elements in place, you've got
a chance. It's not always foolproof. Another element
is the whole marketing of the film, and how that then
affects it. But in the beginning you can only cover
so many bases. The prime thing is always the script,
the director and the cast."
While you have made your fair share of art house successes,
and small British films that have broken out people
sometimes forget The Full Monty has a sharp
political edge this is unashamedly commercial, isn't
A: "Obviously I knew The 51st State was a commercial
venture, but my main reason for doing it was a desire
to work with Sam. If you're going to go into the
American film world it's great that it's in Liverpool
fantastic, my turf and in Sam Jackson you've got a
smashing actor. It's tailor made. And I thought the
script was genuinely funny. Thesesort of things combine,
and I felt I could handle it."
Do you enjoy doing your own stunts?
"They're boring for me really. It doesn't amuse
me, guns and all that stuff. And I don't touch stunts.
I defy any actor to sit in this room and tell me he
did his own stunts. I don't believe it because I've
not seen it.