Sci-fi and American accents in new Domhnall Gleeson interview
Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley) is no stranger to sci-fi films – between his latest release, Ex Machina, the time-traveling plot of About Time, and of course, the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, he’s been in his fair share. In a new interview with Nuke the Fridge, Gleeson spoke more about the genre and working on Ex Machina and discussed some of his upcoming projects.
He revealed that he was a sci-fi fan long before working on these projects:
Yeah, huge fan of sci-fi. Massive fan of Alex Garland’s (director of Ex Machina) work in particular, actually, and have been for a very long time, so having worked with him twice previous[ly, I] was very excited to get this script because I guess I knew I had a chance of actually getting it.
He discussed the themes of Ex Machina and how sci-fi can reflect real-life human concerns:
Most of the interesting questions in the film, I think, are more about humans and less about artificial intelligence or less about machines. It’s got the one big question about consciousness, but I think it’s more about how we react to it than it is about the thing itself. It’s more about our fears. It’s more about how we see ourselves. It’s all reflexive. It’s just a mirror that you look at yourself in, the machines in the film.
He describes how the film’s team brought sci-fi to life, in creating the costume for his co-star, Alicia Vikander, who plays the AI robot:
The material that makes up what goes on her shoulders and her chest, that gray lined material[…] her whole suit was made of that. All the way up across her head, and then her forehead was extended over it with prosthetics, so it looked exactly like it did in the film except for, of course, the translucent areas where you could see inside her. They were added in post-production, but that wasn’t green screen. That was all done afterwards. The visual effects teams were amazing. You really got a sense of that otherworldly thing, that line in the forehead pushed all the way back and just coming out behind the ear. That was wonderful becaause there was that sense of otherness, not just in the performance, which obviously is so strong, but also in the way that she looked. That instant feeling of being in the room with something different was there and then was overcome very quickly by her performance.
As a native of Ireland, Gleeson had to perfect his American accent for Ex Machina:
I went to Portland for a couple weeks, stayed with a lady by the name of Emily Crumpacker on the advice of Tim Monich, a very famous dialect coach. He had a friend in Portland. I wanted Caleb to be from Portland, so I went and hung out there for a week and a half. Worked with Tim a little bit but also worked with Jill McCullough, who’s been my dialect coach for a long time now. She’s a wonderful dialect coach, but I tend to stay in the accent when I’m doing the job, just from the beginning of the day until the last scene. Then when I go home I’m normal, so my friends don’t kill me, but I kept it up on set because it felt important that it was natural, and it felt like my voice and not me doing an accent. I think it was easier for everybody to forget about it if I just kept it off.
During the interview, Gleeson also revealed a little more about another of his upcoming projects, The Revenant, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio:
Madness. Madness. Alejandro (González Iñárittu, director) is crazy. They put us in the most bizarre, challenging situations you can possibly imagine. He told us at the beginning of the shoot that it was going to hurt us, that he wanted to see pain in our faces, and then he went about trying to get that over the course of seven months. But I think you’ll see some fantastic performance from what I can see. Leo (DiCaprio), Tom (Hardy), Will (Poulter)[…] they were all doing some pretty special stuff, and Chivo (Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer) obviously is a genius. So it’ll look good too.
And as for the highly anticipated new Star Wars movie, Gleeson revealed, well… not a lot:
I’m not allowed to talk about that at all. Not even the voice, not even the accent or anything. No, no, they’ve got a full lockdown. Full lockdown on everything. Really, what they’ve said is we can talk about the table read and then nothing else because even if you talk about if you wore a costume, then people are like, ‘Right, so you’re not green screen.’
So we’ll all just have to keep wondering about his role until we’re allowed to know any more! Read the rest of his interview here.
Ex Machina is in cinemas now, and you can watch the trailer here. The Revenant and Star Wars are both due for release later this year.
Have you seen Ex Machina yet? What did you think? And are you excited for Domhnall’s upcoming projects?