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Lee Pace (Roy) - The Fall
Lee Pace was born on 25 March 1979 in Oklahoma, USA. After graduation, Pace starred in several off-Broadway plays including The Credaux Canvas, The Fourth Sister and Small Tragedy - for which he was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award. Pace first gained recognition for his role in the 2003 film Soldier's Girl in which he played the central role of Calpernia Addams, a transgendered woman dating an army soldier. But it's the character of Ned, who can bring the dead back to life, in the TV series Pushing Daisies that has brought him his most famous role to date. Darren Rea caught up with Pace as his latest film, The Fall, was released on Blu-ray and DVD...
Darren Rea: What was it about The Fall that attracted you to the project?
Lee Pace: This was the second movie I'd ever done so it definitely wasn't like a money job. It was all about Tarsem [Tarsem Singh (pictured) the director of The Fall] I had this meeting with him... I was in the middle of shooting something and I was rehearsing a play in New York. So I was travelling back and forth between Toronto and New York a lot and I heard that Tarsem wanted to sit down and talk with me about this film he was doing.
I read the script, I liked it and I sat down and talked with him about it and he gave me this kind of wild pitch which basically is what the movie turned out to be. He'd seen one other movie that I'd done and he said: "That's what the idea is. I'd like you to be in a wheelchair for the first two months. Do you want to do it? I think you're my guy. So if you think you can do it I want you to do it."
So it was kind of his enthusiasm and his interesting vision that made me want to do it.
DR: Tarsem has said he was adamant that he wanted to make it outside of the studio system because of the fact that in his discussions with studios they wanted to make it into a very different movie - more for kids. Would you still have been interested if it had been more of a kids film?
LP: Erm... Yeah, I probably would have still wanted to be onboard if it was a kids film - if it was somehow made in the studio system - if Tarsem was involved. But I guess a lot of what was successful about the movie was the fact that because it was outside of the studio system Tarsem was able to really make every decision himself. He didn't have a barrage of voices weighing in about every little thing.
DR: And he probably wouldn't have been able to shoot in as many locations as he did, so the movie would have looked very different. Of all the locations that you went to which did you find the most interesting?
LP: They were all kind of great. South Africa was a really exceptional place. I loved it there.
We shot a lot of the sequences in Leh which is in the Himalayas, India in a place called Ladakh. We shot the capture of the princess there with the big red carriage and we shot the part where we're tied up, I fall asleep and Alexandria thinks I'm dead. We shot a few really fun sequences out there because the altitude is so high in these high mountain deserts that the colour of the sky is a darker blue. It was really incredible.
DR: Were you disappointed that they used a double for your scenes with the swimming elephants and that you couldn't experience that yourself?
LP: Er... yeah, I was. I heard a lot about it. You know me and Tarsem had become friends, so he would tell me all about it. An interesting thing that he told me [laughs] is that when an elephant swims they... er... poop [laugh] as they swim. It's actually very difficult to get a shot that doesn't have big balloons of elephant sh*t [laughs] floating towards camera [laughs].
DR: You mentioned earlier that you knew early on that you'd spend a great deal of time in bed on set, but did you know at that time you were going to have to pretend to be disabled on set too?
LP: I did, I did. Tarsem talked about it on the first day that we met. He said that it was the way he wanted to work with this little girl, so that she would truly believe that I was paralysed and that everyone on the set would believe it, because if they didn't believe it then she would figure it out pretty quickly.
The thing about that was that originally I thought that it was all about her performance, and trying to find a way to help her to make her performance really authentic, when she's not really an actress. But it helped me, actually, an incredible amount. It put me in a place. Lying to everyone that I was paralysed - they were all the way on one side of Cape Town and I was all the way on the other side of Cape Town - it took a lot out of me.
DR: Afterwards how did Catinca and the crew react to the fact you could walk?
LP: There were a few that weren't too happy about it. Catinca was actually a pretty good sport about it. I think that when she found out, she wasn't quite sure if it was still part of the movie. She didn't know what was going on really, and then after her mum explained to her that actually it was a big trick, she was fine with it. I think she was quite happy that I could walk.
There were some members of the crew, I think, that didn't appreciate it so much. I don't blame them to be honest. I mean, I don't regret doing it because I think it added such a good authentic layer to the movie, but I don't blame them for being a little ticked off. The grips would set up these really great lighting setups and then they'd have to take it all down so that I could get into the bed, and then they'd have to put it all back up again.
You know, you sit there and lie to people and you think it's all to make it a good movie, but these are still people you consider your friends after a while, and I'm sat there talking about a motorcycle accident that never happened.
Like I said, I truly have no regrets about it, and you know I don't think anyone, probably, had any regrets about it because everyone's working to make whatever ends up on the screen as strong as it can be.
DR: There's also a scene where you lose your temper and Catinca, not expecting it, panics a little and freezes on set... Did you feel a little bad about that too afterwards?
LP: I was worried about that after it happened, but something I can say for Catinca is that she takes care of herself better than any actress I've ever met. She was supposed to run out of that scene, but she got so scared that she stopped, and didn't, and Tarsem came out and said: "We need to go again, because you didn't run out." And she said: "I'm not going again. I'm not doing it any more."
Tarsem said: "We need it because we need to cut it into a shot we've already done" and she said: "Well I'm done. I've been scared and I'm ready to go home." And she didn't do it again. That was it. It takes balls to stand up to the director and say: "I've had enough" [laughs]. And she did it, and I say good for her.
DR: Pushing Daisies was cancelled at the end of last year. Were you surprised by that?
LP: Erm... I wasn't surprised, because the numbers were not what the network needed them to be to keep it on the air. I think everyone worked hard. The writers worked hard and wrote good stories, all the actors... we busted our butts - it was a lot of work shooting that show. The networks worked really hard to promote it and get it out there but it's a funny TV climate right now.
There's more and more talk shows and reality shows and it's hard to find a place for Pushing Daisies. We made 22 episodes and I'm really proud of how the show turned out. I had a great time working on it and I have no regrets about that.
DR: There are rumours that there are plans to continue the story in a movie. Is that something you'd be interested in doing?
LP: There are rumours about that - let see what happens. Of course, I'd love to do it if it comes together. I loved playing Ned, I loved falling in love with "Chuck" [laughs]. It's a good thing and I'd love to go back to it.
DR: Can you tell us about your new movie, Possession, which you shot with Sarah Michelle Gellar?
LP: We don't have a release date here in America - it was supposed to be last weekend, but it got bumped again.
I shot that before I shot Pushing Daisies. It's kind of a sexy thriller that I did with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I play kind of a dual role. I'm one guy at the beginning and then I get into a car crash with my brother and I wake up from the accident convinced that I'm him. It's a really good scary movie. The trailer is fantastic, you'll probably get a sense of what the movie is from the trailer.
DR: If you got bored of acting what job would you like to do?
LP: I don't know. I think about that a lot actually [laughs]. I think I might build houses, I don't know, maybe just move to a farm.
DR: Thank you for your time.
The Fall is released on Blu-ray and DVD from Momentum Pictures from 26 January 2009.
This interview was conducted on 23 January 2009