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Fatherless son

Category: Interviews
Article Date: April 14, 2005 | Publication:
The Arizona Republic | Author: Kathy Cano Murillo
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QUESTION: How's life after Phantom of the Opera?

ANSWER: Well, I feel a lot more heat and tension these days, in a good way. I try to play that down. I use it almost as a comfort factor, that I'm doing well and am appreciated. But I don't let it go to my head because it could affect my work, so I just try and use it to my advantage to help me relax.

Q: Phantom wasn't your first spin at singing. Didn't you also lead a band at one time?

A: I only sang in one band for fun. I was training as a lawyer, and I just joined because my mates were doing it. But I never expected to have a career with it. And so getting the chance to play the Phantom was such a different style of singing I'd never done before. It was amazing. But it's not like I want a career in music now. I'm an actor, not a singer.

Q: And now you have Dear Frankie, an adorable but low-key Scottish drama about fathers and sons. What has the response been like?

A: Oh, it's been incredible. People react with such passion and power. I'm so proud of this movie, it's like a fairy tale that's underplayed and natural. It takes you by surprise, you know, lots of twists and turns, and it's very complex. I've never seen people cry so much - including men - because it touches on the father-son angle as well as the mother-son angle. It just hits everyone.

Q: How did you prep yourself for playing a stranger pretending to be a long-lost father of a deaf boy?

A: I drew on my personal experiences. Actually, I was a boy that didn't see my father for many, many years. I didn't even know he was alive between the ages of 2 and 16. He popped up out of the blue one day, just like in the film. A lot of that came back in my identification of the role. So I focused on those feelings as well as the spirit behind being the loner, soulful stranger. I'm also like that as a person.

Q: Fifty years from now, what will you remember the most about this experience?

A: My first scene with the little boy, where he comes up and gives me a big hug. There are few moments in movies that can make you go straight from laughter to crying. Moments that are both funny and sweet, but also melancholy and tragic. I loved that scene. Also because it had a lot of personal reverberation with me and my situation from when my father turned up out of the blue. I so identified with the little boy.

Q: You almost sound like you are getting choked up . . .

A: Totally. (He laughs.) You know, I went to the BAFTA screening of the film, and during the last five minutes, I literally cried. I remembered hearing the music and seeing the setting and I got all choked up. I couldn't help it. I have so much affection toward this story and how it turned out. I'm so glad I had the foresight to see its truth, beauty and charm in the script. And that others got it, too.

Q: You are Scottish with a dash of Irish blood, right? What are your favorite aspects of each culture?

A: Yes, I'm Scottish, raised in Scotland, but my great grandparents were from Ireland. My favorite things from Scotland are the highlands, the countryside, the scenery and the coast. The other thing, which moves me like nothing else, is listening to a solo lament on the bagpipes. Like when you see him standing at the castle. Just listening to that music - the whole romantic, passionate and tragic history of Scotland comes out at that moment. It's a very profound experience. Just to be close to the bagpipes. It's an instrument it just goes right through your body. And with Ireland - it's the people. They are such great, funny, down-to-earth folks. They are in Scotland as well. And Guinness. I don't drink anymore, but when I did it was only Guinness. There's nothing better than sitting in a good old Irish pub and meeting these great characters and downing a pint of Guinness.

 


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