BRIDESHEAD REVISITED Directed by Julian Jerrold, written by Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies from the novel by Evelyn Waugh, with Matthew Goode, Hayley Atwell, Ben Whishaw and Emma Thompson. A Maple Pictures release. 135 minutes. Opens Friday (July 25). For venues and times, see Movies.
You've seen Matthew Goode as the well-meaning guy who loses Piper Perabo to Lena Headey in Imagine Me & You, as the upper-class Brit who serves as Jonathan Rhys Meyers's entry into high society in Woody Allen's Match Point and as the calculating American thug who ropes Joseph Gordon-Levitt into a bank heist in The Lookout.
It's an interesting string of roles for a rising star who's now toplining the new version of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited as middle-class protagonist Charles Ryder - and who will next be seen as Ozymandias in Zack Snyder's heavily anticipated Watchmen.
Brideshead Revisited follows Charles Ryder over the course of a decade, as he falls in and out of favour with the aristocratic Flyte clan. How do you keep a performance consistent from one era to the next?
It's hard, particularly since we weren't filming in narrative order - it jumps about in the book, too. You have to go through three different eras in one day and consider how that's going to link into a scene you're shooting two months from then. It helps to have a very good director, and whenever you're doing stuff with Emma Thompson, you think, "This film could be on the right track."
And Michael Gambon and Greta Scacchi are in it, too...
It's a fucking joy.
This version views Ryder more harshly than either the novel or the miniseries. He's a sort of infiltrator of the Flytes' exclusive world.
He's maligned by people trying to portray him as a social-climbing, really, really ambitious guy, straight off. You have to convey quite a lot with just looks, because he is such a non-obliging lead role. He is a catalyst to situations, but only via his presence; otherwise, he's observational. But if you peel back those layers in his psychology, he's one of the loneliest men in the world. Totally friendless.
The film makes much more of the ambiguous nature of the relationship between Charles and Ben Whishaw's Sebastian Flyte.
It's the complications of male love in general. Many of us have thought, "Why am I jealous of my best mate, who's now got a girlfriend? Am I jealous of her? Is it because I'm gay? No. Do I want his erect cock anywhere near me? No, I don't." But there is that sort of weird conversation you have with yourself when you're growing up about what male love is.
The miniseries is positively revered on both sides of the Atlantic. Have you encountered any hostility to the new project?
We haven't opened in England yet, and I'm sure they'll be sharpening their pencils over there, ready to write nasty stuff about it. I hope we haven't given them too much reason to. But it's the adaptation of a novel, rather than the remake of a television series.
Your next movie is Zack Snyder's Watchmen - a project known for having its own ferociously protective fan base.
I'm pretty sure he's going to give them everything they want, and a bit more.