Robert Carlyle


Robert Carlyle has portrayed a Bond baddie, a male stripper, a drug addict and now a cannibalistic nutter. Is there no end to this mans' bizarre career? Darren Rea finds out...

Sci-Fi Online: Ravenous doesn't really fit under the traditional horror genre. How would you best describe it?

Robert Carlyle: I never saw it as a horror film. The other themes that are woven into the piece were the reasons that I did it. I think it's a mixed genre piece and when I read the script, I saw an opportunity for something quite unusual or even original which is quite hard to come by. It's got this Gothic psychological feel to it. There are lots of layers to Ravenous. It amuses me, for instance, that the film is set in California. And that amuses me because everything about California is about appearance and this desire for youth and trying to keep yourself looking young. Vitality, virility, all that. And that's exactly what my character is doing and saying. He discovers that cannibalism is going to keep him young and virile. So he was the first true Californian...

SFO: It's an exceptionally black comedy. The humour is extremely sick. Did you have any objections to any of the humour?

RC: No, not at all. I think it required humour. The subject matter - cannibalism - is so dark it needs it. If you are going down that road of dark, dark, dark, you need the humour to counter balance it. It's entertainment. I hope the audience get entertainment out of it and maybe if people start to talk about the film they will maybe begin to see some of the metaphors that I mentioned earlier, about modern day California. And then they may see it a bit differently.

SFO: Was it hard work? It looked like a lot of fun.

RC: It was hard work but you do have fun. You have to. I mean, if you are standing there with a pitchfork in your stomach doing this scene and you suddenly catch sight of yourself, it is funny. You go '******** hell! What a job!' It's funny.

SFO: The director also changed before filming started so did that add any problems? Weren't you instrumental in bringing Antonia Bird onboard as the new director?

RC: Once Milcho had gone it was vital for me to try and find someone I could get along with. Antonia is a great friend of mine, a great collaborator, so it seemed an obvious choice really. She came in under difficult circumstances and did a fantastic job. I'm very proud of the film. It's not easy, some people will love it, some people will hate it,. But I'm delighted with it.

SFO: The two of you have worked together a few times in the past and I understand that you've formed your own production company.

RC: We have a development company, rather than a production company, called Fourway Films. The biggest problem in this country and particularly in Britain, is that scripts don't get the chance to develop. We have a few projects that were working on including one that is loosely titled The Scottish Western. I don't know if many people are aware of it but in the 1780s there were what is known as the Highland Clearances when a lot of Scots were shipped out to America. And they were amongst the first cowboys because that's what they were doing in Scotland at the time - they were horse thieves and cattle thieves, they fought each other in various clans. So the idea of these people meeting with the tribal system of native Americans is very interesting.

SFO: You seem to have a habit of portraying nutters. How do you prepare for these roles?

RC: I think every actor has their own method. I research things as much as I possibly can, I try to submerge myself as much as I possibly can. You know, the theatre and cinema is about the suspension of belief and it's absolutely vital that I suspend my own belief. That's a vital part of my own journey.

SFO: Being involved in a James Bond movie, was that a childhood dream for you? You were following in impressive footsteps - Christopher Lee, Christopher Walken and Telly Savalas have all been down that road. How did you feel about that?

RC: I didn't agonise over it. I remember going to see the Bond movies with my father in the '60s and 70s' when Sean Connery was playing Bond. And, you know, I thought Connery was the only guy who spoke kind of like me. So there's that link between Bond and Connery and Scots and stuff. It's fundamental, so it was an easy choice to make.

SFO: How big and influence has your father been on your career?

RC: My father has always been very encouraging for me. I was a house painter and when I decided that I wasn't going to do that and I was going to try acting people were, I don't know, they were shocked, stunned, amazed - all of the above. Except him. He was always encouraging all through my career - and it hasn't always been sweetness and light, there have been hard times. But he has always supported me.

SFO: No thoughts of relocating to Los Angeles?

RC: No way. I think it's too dangerous there. I could have gone to LA maybe three or four years ago, certainly after Trainspotting and after The Full Monty. I held back and kind of looked at it from afar. I didn't want to be pushed or pulled in any particular direction.

SFO: What do you think the perception of you is in Hollywood?

RC: I don't know. Maverick? (laughs) Maybe they think I've got a mouth on me and hopefully they have a grudging respect for the fact that I don't join in and I'm prepared to do long distance.

SFO: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to David at DSA

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