Following the screening of Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful Only Lovers Left Alive we were treated to a short Q&A with John Hurt (Christopher Marlowe).
One of the first questions asked was his reasoning behind becoming involved with Only Lovers Left Alive. The simple answer was that it was Jim Jarmusch. Hurt described how Jarmusch was a slow talker and before he finished asking Hurt to become involved he had already asked, “when and where?”
Considering the many mavericks of film making that Hurt has worked with including Sam Pekinpah, Lars von Trier, etc how does each Director compare? Hurt described how he cannot answer that question citing how we live in a competitive world and one does not want to add to the competition. Further, he described how each director is different, for example, Jarmusch’s films may not bring in a lot of money however he has a very good following and Hurt described his love and support for anything Jarmusch does.
Describing Jarmusch’s style Hurt joked that there is no such thing as a script and everything evolves one way or another.
The Q&A moved on to the subject of Hurt’s character, Christopher Marlowe, the 16th Century dramatist who some believe was the real writer of Shakespeare’s work. Hurt described himself as Anti-Stratfordian (one who believes Shakepeare’s work was actually written by another) and goes on to dryly state how he was lazy in assuming from childhood onwards that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Although it appears to be his belief that it may not necessarily have been Marlowe but another such as Edward de Vere.
Next were audience questions:-
When asked about his role as the War Doctor during the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who Hurt described it as fun but very difficult to do. As to whether he will be returning as the War Doctor? Hurt does not think so considering he has not been in discussions with anybody and the Doctor has already done what he has to do. Simply, let’s quite while we’re ahead.
He goes on to say that whilst Doctor Who was both fun and touch, Jim Jarmusch was easy to work with. With regards continually returning to Lars von Trier Hurt described von Trier as having a wonderful mind and an individual who is prepared to stand out in front of everyone. There has been condemnation and praise but von Trier is a full person and not a least bit ashamed to be so.
There was a rather long pause when asked whether he would consider a Wes Anderson film. Returning to the previous description of how all directors are different Hurt goes on to confess that he did not respond as easily to Wes than he does to other directors.
The next few questions centred on Hurt’s technique and choosing scripts. When asked what criteria he had in choosing scripts to become involved with Hurt described how he has three pieces of criteria. Firstly, will the script succeed on the level that it is intended to succeed? He does not matter what genre it is from comedy, drama to tragedy as long as it can be successful in its level. Secondly, is this a script that I can do something personal with? Thirdly, is the director someone you can work WITH and not work FOR.
How does Hurt prepare for roles? This is dependent on the script. Some scripts are organic and he does not necessarily need to think about it and just gets on with the job. Others will require some thought and a deeper look. Generally, Hurt’s technique in preparing varies hugely between pieces and he does not have an arithmetic way of working.
Finally, Hurt finished the Q&A by stating that he hopes that he can cook something up that will allow him to return to Dublin in the next year or two however there are no plans at present.
*photograph courtesy of Jameson Dublin Film Festival