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27-02-02 news INTERVIEW
Stuart Townsend Interview...

Ireland's latest heartthrob Stuart Townsend has taken Hollywood by storm as his latest movie topped the US box office last weekend.

His latest starring role as that aging vampire Lestat in the Australian-shot Queen of the Damned. And his romance with the gorgeous Charlize Theron, which became publicly known right here on last year in a world exclusive.

In a recent conversation with Paul Fischer in LA, the Dublin actor talked about the changes in his life over the past year and the role of Lestat in the movie.

"I think for me it was the opportunity to fulfill all those teenage fantasies of being a rock star. A lot of people ask me, if it's intimidating because Tom Cruise was the star of the original and that kind of thing, but for me, it was just such a different story, it was rock and roll."

Townsend found the character compelling from the outset, he recalls. "I thought there was a sensitivity. He loved music and he was creative and he wasn't given a choice. He was just created, then he was left alone and then spends a couple of hundred years hiding in the shadows, wanting to enjoy all these powers and wanting to connect but literally emerging as this solitary bird. He despises that, even though he's monstrous at times but he kind of has to deal with that, along with existence."

The film does raise the question: Would we want to live forever? Townsend says no. "Because it would be a drag. Why do we all watch movies? Reality is quite mundane but we have great imaginations such that, you know, there are tons of beautiful things in this world, but I don't think I'd like to be around forever."

The actor also takes time out to talk about the late actress in the movie Aaliyah. The 22-year old singer who tragically died in a plane crash last year, shortly after completing principal photography on Queen of the Damned.

"Working with her was amazing. She was a really special person and, I mean amazing on set. We'd walk around and she created this fantastic character, but it was always a sense of fun, like the shoot was fun, and most shoots aren't, and with her, she's very serious about work but off set or in between takes, she was always a lot of fun."

Speaking about his love of Ireland and how he got into acting the actor says, " I loved film and I was bored. It was a very small village I grew up in and we were fed American culture. I mean, Australia's interesting because it's sort of wedged in between English and American culture and so was Ireland. A lot of people understood the cultural references and I felt more connected to Aussies than anywhere."

He started at the Gaiety School of Acting where he enrolled and made his stage debut in the school's production of Tear Up the Black Sail. He made his professional stage debut in John Crowley's True Lines. In 1996, Townsend broke onto the screen with his role in Gillies MacKinnon's Trojan Eddie. Portraying a seductive young man who steals away a bride from her groom on their wedding day, Townsend was afforded the opportunity to work with the legendary Richard Harris.

His exposure in the film led to his first starring role, in Shooting Fish (1997), a successful comedy which cast him as a sweet-natured con man. That same year, Townsend had a supporting role in Carine Adler's acclaimed drama Under the Skin, engaging in emotional dysfunction and phone sex with the film's heroine.

He also made a terrifying impression in the Irish crime thriller Resurrection Man, playing a psychotic killer. Townsend subsequently extended his talents to period drama, portraying an impoverished Jew in 19th century Silesia in Simon Magus (1998) and playing a dual role in the 16th- and 20th century-set The Venice Project (1999).

In 1999, he was also visible in Michael Winterbottom's Wonderland, an ensemble drama that screened at that year's Cannes Film Festival.

Townsend just finished shooting the crime thriller 24 Hours, where he fell in love with co-star Charlize Theron, whom he gleefully describes as both "tall and fearless."

He is about to take her to Australia while he promotes Queen of the Damned, then "I'm going to grab a tent and go out to the Outback for a week." A daring move? "Nah, she's more adventurous than I am. After all, she's a farm girl, you know."

Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.

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