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06-12-01 news
Robert Carlyle Interview...

Trainspotting's Robert Carlyle talks about his new movie, The 51st State, he made in Liverpool with Samuel L Jackson.

Q: Having made such an impression in Cracker all those years ago, here you are playing a fanatical Liverpool fan again?

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 with."

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?

A: "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?

A: "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.

A: "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."

Q: Is it fun going toe-to-toe with actors like that?

A: "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."

Q: Did he enjoy being part of a British film, shooting in Liverpool?

A: "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."

Q: 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."

Q: 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 it?

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. These sort of things combine, and I felt I could handle it."

Q: Do you enjoy doing your own stunts?

A: "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.

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