Interview With James Purefoy

Total Film have a great interview with Purefoy, star of the upcoming Solomon Kane. In it he discusses Kane as well as John Carter Of Mars and being fired from V For Vendetta!...

Interviews Opinion

Its a pretty long interview but packed full of CBM related goodness...

Total Film: Were you a Robert E. Howard fan before Solomon Kane?

Purefoy: I knew Conan but I wasn’t all that interested – I’m not a big fan of the whole Conan thing. That’s the kind of fantasy film that I just can’t be arsed with because it looks camp and I don’t believe the world. But the world we created in Solomon Kane is very real. It’s a mad, dark world and Solomon Kane’s a really cool character.

T: Did you base him on anyone?

P: I was very influenced by Clint Eastwood when I was growing up. I would sit in front of the TV at home in my little village in Somerset wearing a poncho. I’m not kidding, 12 years old – my mother would give me a cheroot to smoke, which is just appalling. I just thought he was the coolest person I’d ever seen in my life – I loved his taciturnity, the fact that he was such an enigma as the Man With No Name. And to my mind, Solomon is the 16th century Man With No Name. He’s grim, taciturn and he doesn’t give much out.

T: Plus you get to wear a hat and a cape…

P: I’ve had so many boring comments that we’re copying Van Helsing and it just makes you want to split your head against a wall at people’s ignorance and stupidity, because obviously Van Helsing ripped off the look of Solomon Kane. He’s the prototype – Van Helsing is the rip-off.

T: Marc Anthony in Rome, Solomon Kane, a Knight Templar in the upcoming Ironclad… You seem to be embracing macho fighting men of late...

P: I’m very good with a sword – there aren’t many of us who can do that. I was fortunate to be taught at drama school by one of the greatest fight choreographers ever, Bill Hobbs, who did The Three Musketeers and The Duellists.
And I did it for three years at the Royal Shakespeare Company. If you do three years of fights every single night, you become pretty handy with a blade.

T: What’s your favourite movie swordfight?

P: The Mandy Patinkin-Cary Elwes fight in The Princess Bride is one of the most beautiful pieces of swordplay you can ever imagine. My favourite swordfighter of all time, though, is Oliver Reed because Ollie looked like he really was trying to kill people in the Musketeer movies. I asked Bill Hobbs, “How did he do that?” and he said, “Because he /was/ trying to kill people.” The stuntmen wouldn’t fight with him – they had to keep getting new ones to come to the set because he was a vicious, crazed animal. I liked that idea for Solomon – I wanted him to look like he was trying to kill people.

T: Was Solomon Kane a tough shoot?

P: It was the toughest job I’ve ever done. It was very harsh filming conditions in the Czech Republic, minus-10, minus-15 most days, nearly all of it shot outside, and incredibly wet because that bastard Michael [Bassett, director] would never turn the rain machines off. You’d come off set and your clothes would literally freeze on you so that there were icicles forming. If you sat down for 15 minutes and then tried to get up, you’d fall flat on your face because you were covered in ice.

T: Did you get sick?

P: Sick, injured… but when you sign up for something like this, you know what’s going to happen. It’s not guns and squibs, it’s up close hand-to-hand combat and you get hurt. I got seven stitches in the top of my head, the cartilage in my knee snapped, I stabbed a stuntman in the face…

T: Solomon Kane’s not your first time wearing a brimmed hat and cape. How do you look back on V For Vendetta, when you were fired and replaced by Hugo Weaving?

P: I don’t really talk about it much because we agreed not to. The only rumour I can scotch is that if anybody thinks I was too pussy to wear a mask, they’re completely wrong. It was nothing to do with wearing the mask.

T: Joel Silver told us it was a voice thing – he didn’t think you sounded menacing enough…

P:[Laughs hysterically] Really?! Is that what he says? ‘A voice thing…’ Right, okay. Um… it was genuine creative differences. It was genuinely about the way to approach that character, which is what creative differences are all about – and sometimes they become intolerable. Shit happens, doesn’t it? You can’t get too bust up about it.

T: On to bigger, better things… How is John Carter Of Mars going?

P: It’s a great project. Huge. There aren’t many bona fide geniuses working in our industry but Andrew Stanton is one of them… Wall-E and Finding Nemo are extraordinary. If you only look at him in terms of his storytelling skills, that’s enough – and on top of that, look at the beauty, the soul, the heart he puts into those films. It’s staggering what he achieves. Funnily enough, I don’t have much to do in the first film. I’ve taken this basically because they’ve said, “Your part gets bigger and bigger as the films go on.”

T: You’re playing a Red Martian named Kantos Kan, right?

P: Yes, he’s a fighter pilot. He’s the captain of a massive naval airship so in the first film, I do a little bit of steering, a little bit of rescuing, shit like that. He’s quite flash, he has a few jokes – he’s like a naughty, sexy uncle. That’s the way I’ve been told to play it.

T:Are you wearing a costume or a mocap suit?

P: It’s not mocap with us [the Red Martians]. We’re humanoid, we’re in costumes, but there are other actors who are playing pure mocap characters. It’s hard to talk about it because I don’t really know what it’s going to look like. So much of it is in Andrew’s head and with his designers. We’re on a real set but it’s surrounded by green screen so there’s going to be stuff out there that I have no idea what it is but I know it will be extraordinary.

T:How would you describe your costume?

P: Armour. [Laughs] It looks cool. It’s very Dan Dare.

Ror: Looking forward to both Kane and Carter immensely! Solomon Kane is out on Feb 19th

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