Timothy Spall talks studying for his role in “Mr. Turner”

Actor Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew) has received considerable buzz lately for his portrayal of British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner in the biographical film Mr. Turner. In a new interview with NOW Magazine, Spall discussed the lengthy process of preparing for the role, for which he spent four years learning to paint.

Spall explained his research process for the role by saying,

It’s all a strange kind of human alchemy. You have to let the character you’re building meet with the research, and I did a [lot] of research.

He went on to discuss Turner’s thought process:

His tools grew out of him as if they were part of his body, part of his sexuality. I spent two years with a portraitist, and he gave me a fine art foundation course.

One aspect of the painter’s character that Spall brought to life onscreen was his tendency to grunt rather than talk. Describing Turner as a “natural genius,” he added,

He wasn’t someone who would have gone on chat shows and astounded everyone with his erudition. He could say a million things any time he wanted to, but he would just grunt and pull it back into himself.

On director Mike Leigh’s encouraging the actors he works with to write their own scenes, Spall explained that the process is different from improvisation:

You never improvise the scene. You improvise to create the scene, which is more set than a textual one would be because you’ve worked every single finite piece of it.

Additionally, he touched on his role in Harry Potter and the global recognition he has received from it:

The Harry Potter thing is still very odd. Wormtail’s a really small part, but it’s one of the things that made me famous in Outer Mongolia.

Mr. Turner first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, at which Timothy Spall was named Best Actor. A limited theatrical release of the film will begin on December 19.

You can read the rest of the interview on NOW Magazine‘s website.

Do you plan to see Mr. Turner? What do you think of Spall’s commitment to his role? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Mary W.

I am a Slytherin, a lifelong fan of Harry Potter, and a member of MuggleNet staff since 2014. In my Muggle life, I am passionate about human rights, and I love to travel around the world and meet new people.