Mike Newell at 100th London Critics’ Circle Awards
Transcribed by Felicia Grady, Aimee Schechter, and Kaytee Schwartz
Talie: Nice to meet you. [unintelligible] You’re obviously a good British director, and you have worked with the cream of the crop, [unintelligible].
Mike Newell: [unintelligible]
Talie: [unintelligible] … British talent and British films in the world.
Mike: Yes, of course it is.
Mike: [laughs] Of course it is! Silly. Of course we’re not.
Talie: You did Harry Potter, and you’re doing Great Expectations, and they’re almost like a Harry Potter reunion. Was that on purpose or is that just because they’re the best, the British?
Mike: Oh, they’re the best. They’re just the best. There is a huge difference between American actors and British actors. It’s almost philosophical. The British actors always come from stage training, and on the stage, the actor controls. It’s [he who] makes it go quick, it’s [he who] makes it go slow. He’s loud, he’s quiet, he’s right there doing it, and he’s in control of you, the audience. In America, the actors know that they’re not. The actors know that they [unintelligible] with the producers, the directors, the cameraman, the technician… Those are the guys [who] propel. All the American actor can do is be very focused when he finally gets [unintelligible]. The English actors have a much bigger field to work.
Talie: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with [whom] you would like to?
Mike: Yeah, there are loads.
Talie: Anyone in particular?
Mike: There are just too many to name. Too many. I’m sorry about that.
Talie: It’s fine.
Mike: It’s true.
Talie: You’ve made your mark, obviously, with Harry Potter with a younger audience that might have never seen some of your films before. How do you feel you’ve made your mark on history? Those films will go down in history. Those eight films that were so phenomenal, how did it feel having the responsibility to carry one of those films?
Mike: I had a really good time. It’s very, very exciting. They give you an enormous budget.
Mike: They give you the best actors in the world. They give you a film that you really want to see. You always take a film out to preview, and when you put it in front of a preview audience, the audience doesn’t know what it’s going to see. So we went along to a little suburban cinema in Chicago, and the man who was running the screening came down to the front and said, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman and children, and this afternoon’s film is going to be Harry Potter 4” and the kid in front of me went, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Mike: It’s wonderful, exciting. [unintelligible]
Talie: My last question is obviously another Harry Potter one, but you got to work with Robert Pattinson before he was Robert Pattinson. Do you feel like you’ve got an eye for new talent as it’s going to emerge?
Mike: Have I got a what?
Talie: An eye for talent that’s going to be pretty big, because he is huge now.
Mike: Right. Yes, I know. [laughs]
Mike: Yeah, I do know. He was obviously really good for that movie. He looks like the doomed fighter pilot.
Mike: The head boy who is going to go into the trenches and get shot [on] his second day. He just had that thing.
Mike: And he is a brilliant vampire. He’s really good. He’s a sweet guy. He’s a clever guy. He is not a dope at all.
Talie: I didn’t think he is. Thank you very much.
Claire: Sorry. Carrying on from Harry Potter, how did you stay in tune with the others films as they happened? Obviously, you were the fourth one, and there were four after you. Did you stay tuned? Did you see them a lot? Did you talk to any directors?
Mike: I don’t even see my own films a lot. When I finish them, I only watch them once. Maybe years after it, I will. I saw them all. It’s interesting to see how they went. The producers [unintelligible] are really clear about it. They want somebody different each time, and they were so happy with David that they stayed with him for four after that. I was very interested to see how they went.
Claire: You are presenting Helena with her award this evening, for you as well, Great Expectations. I just wondered, was she the first choice for that role or was there a casting process? There was no competition.
Mike: [unintelligible] And I think that I was heading toward Helena from [unintelligible].
Claire: People say she was born to play that role.
Talie: People say she is a great actress. She has lots of versatility as well.
Mike: In lots of ways, the audience makes people popular. The audience has to say, “We want to see more of you; we want to see what she would do there.” Helena has colossal range. That’s a variety of what she does. The energy that she brings is terrific. [unintelligible] Which is tremendous, really.
Talie: Yeah, it’s great. [laughs] Have you seen her in Les Mis?
Mike: I have, yes.
Talie: What did you think?
Mike: Well, she’s terrific. She’s a very good actor [unintelligible]. The spinning top.
Talie: The spinning top, yeah.
Mike: [unintelligible] It’s really big.
Talie: Yeah, it is. It’s very big. It’s fantastic. [unintelligible] She is going to be reunited with Johnny Depp for The Lone Ranger. [unintelligible]
Mike: [unintelligible] I’m sure it’ll be a good script. I’m sure that Johnny is a brilliant Tonto.
Talie: Yeah. Thank you!