During the recent press junket for Watchmen we had a chance to speak to Watchmen movie actors Billy Crudup, who plays Dr. manhattan, and Matthew Goode, who plays Ozymandias.
The following is the complete interview that we had with them that day.
Billy, could you talk about how they shot you in this film — you had to wear some kind of VFX suit, right?
Billy Crudup: I did, exactly. They had kind of elaborate pajamas. There were two things they were trying to accomplish. One was motion capture and the other was to try to light the other characters with the blue light that Dr. Manhattan is supposed to emanate. I had a suit that had a bunch of blue lights on it, and a battery pack that was pretty hot [laughing], and dots on my face. They were attempting to capture all the nuance of performance too. Not that there was any thing to capture, but they were going to try to capture it, if it were there [laughing]. They way that they did that was with the dots on my face and then they shot it with high definition cameras and then sent it to a leprechaun some where [laughing] and I have no idea what happens after that.
How did they track your facial performances? Is that your facial performance within the CGI? Did you sit down with VFX after and watch your lines put against their effects?
BC: What did you think about the performance and I’ll tell you [laughing].
I actually thought it was excellent; I thought it was great.
BC: Then it was me [laughing] I have another answer prepared If you would [laughing]. There were 140 dots on my face and each of those dots corresponded to the exact replica of me that was made in the computer. That was Dr. Manhattan. The way they made that replica was with high definition photographs and a laser scan of my face, so, it’s a computer version of my face that’s built into that Dr. Manhattan. Basically, I was just moving the puppet version of me with those dots. It’s, for better or worse, my performance.
Matthew Goode: and the same goes for Jon Osterman as well. [Laughing]
BC: That was not me that was you [gestures to Goode], in a brilliant double role. [Laughing]
So, Billy — the six pack and muscles on Dr. Manhattan, that's not really you, right?
BC: Take a gander my lady [laughing]. As you can see, the six foot four inch, 240 pound ripped version was not me. That guy had like 48 shoulders.
You looked good.
BC: Why thank you, I’ve trimmed down since then, you can’t play that role for everything.
Matthew, Ozymandias’ fight scenes are so quick, how much do you need to train to do those very quick fight scenes?
MG: I don’t want to suspend the disbelief but some of it was me and some of it wasn’t. For the opening sequence, that was pretty much some one else, that was shot the first or second week, as far as memory recalls. So, a lot of that was somebody else. There was a lot of training; you’re always doing a lot of training like kung fu.
Was it physically tough on you to do?
MG: It wasn’t so bad. I had an operation on my knee, so it was slightly physically challenging. I’m not really the right casting; it’s certainly a different way to go. I mean Zack was about he is the perfect specimen, and then it should be all about that. That’s why I was so thin, because if you are that bulky you wouldn’t have that kind of speed. I don’t know what to say, but yes, we did do a lot of training but some of it just looks better with someone who has been doing it all their life.
Did you guys fall into the “Watchmen era” when you were kids? Was it meaningful to you?
BC: If I had been interested in comic books or graphic novels, it would have definitely fallen into my life. I was not into them; but it is my era. It came out in ’85 and I was in high school at that time.
So, this isn’t a life long dream for you?
BC: No. I mean to act in something like this [laughing] and to talk to you people.
How about you Matthew?
MG: No, I wasn’t aware of it. I think I would have been in high school. But if I was to do something from this genre, I’m glad it was Watchmen.
In the last few years, you’ve obviously became aware of how big of a project you’re in and how important it is to people. Could you tell me what feelings you were going through? You’re waiting for this big thing to open and there’s a legal battle going on, what was going on in your heads?
MG: “Oh, no” was what I was thinking. But, It wasn’t like I was thinking I had all my eggs in one basket, my career is going to be gone if it isn’t. But, only having shot for six months and accepting the role in the first place, you’re kind of wondering. When it first turned up, I knew that Zack had done something incredible with 300; but this is such a vast and incredibly difficult, you know it’s supposed to be an unfilmable novel. The trepidation of going through the filming process and seeing all the art work, and speaking to Zack and rehearsing you are like ok, I think we got something really incredible going on here.
Then for it to be shot and you’re really happy with it, for someone to come in and whip the rug, then maybe it will go somewhere where it can’t be seen, stuck in a can of film somewhere, was really upsetting. So I was thrilled they managed to work it out. Because I just saw it recently and I need to see it again because I think he’s done such an honest film of the book, than anyone else could have done.
Billy, your vocal performance, everyone was worried about that. It’s very hard to speak as this omnipotent, disconnected from humanity. How did you work through, because a lot of it is vocal, because it’s all CGI, How did you figure out how Dr. Manhattan should sound?
BC: The good part was, it’s totally my performance. It is me moving that “puppet”. The problem is though is the body is so vastly different, that a body like that would resonate differently than a body like mine. So the placement of the voice is a little bit harder to find. So, when I first saw parts of it during ADR, where you’re looping over stuff, I thought we need to tweak it a little bit maybe change the placement of it a little bit. So, some of it was trial and error. The philosophy behind the voice, Zack had some pretty good ideas about how someone with that kind of ability would try to calm the people around him with no too intimidating a voice; so, we tried to find a placement that was not too Greek god like.
MG: or at least not “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” like. [Laughing]
BC: So, part of it was that and part of it was just the nature of someone who’s distracted. He was not too interested in the conversations going on around him; he was interested in watching particles interact. It was a strange thing to try to find. It was never totally solved but always kind of a process.
So, when you looked at your performance in the final film were you like “great that’s exactly how I wanted that to happen?” Were you surprised on how it came together?
BC: I am not the most objective viewer of my own work. So, I have different thoughts about my work. But, I was pleased with the way the whole thing came together.
Matthew, during all the marketing hype and all the promotion, very little of your character was really seen in all the promos, trailers, commercials. So, the big question mark is , “How is Matthew going to pull off Viedt?” It was a very subdued, calm performance. What was the process in deciding how Viedt was going to appear on screen?
MG: I think it’s with the construct of the book. He’s not in it in huge amounts. When I read the script I was taking certain scenes like the interview which comes right at the end of the book. We are making this for people who love the novel, and that’s what the film is, and it doesn’t stray from that. But it’s not accessible enough for people who don’t know the novel, and if you don’t, will they see this slightly Germanic, which is the way we went with it, to have that duality. Will he be seen as we do when someone who’s German turns up in any film? Is he going to be the baddy? I think that’s what I’m going at any way, which is why we ended up giving him sort of a soft German, even though he’s not meant to be, he actually born in New York.
We liked the idea of it because it played into the whole he gave his money away possibly because his parents could have been Nazi’s. It was just sort of flushing that out and that made sense to me. It also plays with the idea that isn’t it funny that in a war situation all Germans are considered guilty because what happened to the Jews even though they are following government. Therefore, America seems to be very blameless about what happened to the Japanese when one million and a half innocent people were wiped out from a bomb being dropped.
That’s sort of what we are playing with in Viedt, is the fact that the world was going to end, regardless if he did this or not. There would have been a nuclear holocaust. He is the smartest man in the world; even in this situation can you even write about this? Is it going to ruin the film for people? So, that’s what I was dealing with. It’s like what the hell am I going to do? I think if you are that intelligent, you can make those kinds of decisions, you are quite calm. I suppose that is why he and [Dr. Manhattan] sort of get along.
BC: I thought you were going to say that’s why I was so calm. You could have gone there.
MG: I could have gone there. I was just really happy because there is so much stuff you have to get in to not bring into scenes. Like he is gay or is he? It’s not a huge part of it. Just how arrogant is he? There is just a lot of duality.
How did you deal with the accent?
MG: It was funny; we shot without thinking about that part of it. In the first scenes like the Lee Iacocca scenes, it was a six month job. We shot that and I came back to Zack to talk about giving him that sort of public and private persona. I came up with the idea and I dealt with it.
It always seemed like your character was never shocked by anything. He was always one to two steps ahead of everything that happened.
MG: Well, he’s been planning it for a very long time. Everything about Adrian is black and white isn’t it? He’s got legal operations, he’s got illegal operations. He’s just trying to save the world if you take it as it is on paper.
I don’t know if you read the book or not, but where did you get tidbits on his sexual orientation?
MG: That’s another question isn’t it? It’s suggested by Rorschach. [whispers] “possibly homosexual must investigate further”. You could say that abuse leads to abuse. Some people could say that possibly Rorschach could be homosexual, you never know, and maybe he fancies Viedt. I don’t think that’s the case. It’s only suggested in our film, which I actually started laughing hilariously, on the computer when they break into it. He puts in the password and sees the operations and on the other side it says “boys” [laughing].
It does? Oh my goodness, there’s an Easter egg.
MG: Yeah, so, there’s an Easter egg for you. I just found that hilarious. Because it is the 80’s and he looks a little like David Bowie, so it’s not that romantic a look.
What about you Billy, what about your sex scenes? Did you have to do that in the blue Tron suit? [Laughing]
BC: Yeah, yeah I did each of those guys
But Patrick got to do those scenes “au natural” and you had to wear that Tron suit. It must have taken away some of the...
BC: I’m not saying I’m a fetishist [laughing] but it was interesting.
MG: While certain action is happening at least the “bad boy” is strapped down, you know. [Malin Akerman is] a very attractive woman [laughing].
BC: Good thinking Matt, good thinking.
Now the ending has changed from the one in the graphic novel. There have been a lot of fans in an uproar of whether the ending is going to work and they want the Squid in it. I haven’t seen the film and seen how it’s all brought together and being a big fan I think it definitely works. Are you guys happy with how the ending worked out? Do you think there’s going to be any fan backlash?
MG: Well, you know there’s always going to be fan backlash. I’m fairly prepared. I think out of everyone I look the least like Viedt. I think Viedt’s changed the most from the novel. So, I’m certainly prepared. [Laughing]. But, I think it’s such a vastly intelligent novel, that if you were going to go into the other side of the story about the murdered psychic and the manipulation of that. That’s what Bubastis kind of there for. So you can say it’s nice that Bubastis made it in at all.
I think I works incredibly well. I think I would be a bridge to far for people, because it’s an unreality. It’s a different 80’s, Nixon is still President, you still have to make it real and you may be taking people out of it with a giant Squid. They are also suggesting it’s not just New York it’s certain places around the world, it would have required more than one squid and that wouldn’t be in the novel and that might have really confused people. I think it makes a lot more sense.
BC: What I’m looking forward to is seeing the “Black Freighter” that looks really cool.
MG: That looks fucking awesome. It looks amazing.
The one thing I thought watching the film, I know all the stuff that has been cut out, so it’s going to be interesting to see the whole thing woven together.
MG: It’s not just the “Black Freighter” we are missing, there’s other stuff like Hollis Mason.
BC: I thought you were going to talk about my cut lines [laughing]
MG: There’s another forty-five minutes of the film plus the “Black Freighter” and there’s a bit more in the sex scene that didn’t make it [laughing].
02.26.2009 Source: WatchmenComicMovie.com
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