1 Απρ 2010

Συνέντευξη του Hugh Laurie στο World Screen!

Ο Hugh Laurie μιλά στο World Screen για την ερμηνεία του Dr. Gregory House!




WS: What appealed to you about the character of Gregory House?
LAURIE: I thought he was a fascinating and at the time, as far as I could tell, a unique combination of wit and dissidence and unease and a whole list of qualities that I hadn’t seen combined in a single character, particularly not at the center of a drama. One could argue that there have been characters a little bit like House here and there, but they were usually peripheral characters. The hero was always a solid upright citizen, usually with blond hair and a dog, and they would do the right thing.
WS: A good guy.
LAURIE: A good guy, and you could tell who the good guys were. And this is a rather troubled and conflicted, damaged character who presented this problem for the audience, I suppose, which is that here is a man that has a gift with which he can heal. He can help mankind and yet the gift comes at a cost—it comes at a cost to him and it comes at a cost to any of the people around him. He’s always asking the question, “Am I worth the cost?” and it’s a constantly interesting question, and I grew to like him immediately. I felt within a couple of pages I really liked this guy. It doesn’t mean I think he’s a good guy or a nice guy, but I like him.
WS: I lived in Italy for 20 years and in Europe there is a little less sentimentality in the arts than there is in the U.S. Americans in general like happy endings, you know what I mean?
LAURIE: Oh absolutely, I do, yes.
WS: I wouldn’t say there is anything sentimental about House.
LAURIE: Not much.
WS: Why do you think it plays so well to a U.S. audience?
LAURIE: I wonder if the difference you are describing has actually changed in the last decade or so. I feel, though I can’t speak for the whole of Europe, as if the British maybe have become more sentimental than they were, and possibly the Americans have become less sentimental. I feel as if we are meeting in some strange middle ground somewhere. I think American audiences seem much more open now to different kinds of stories told with different kinds of flavors and tones and with different sorts of outcomes. Of course, there is always a sort of a Disney America, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which is a nonsensical premise that your dreams come true. They don’t just because you wish upon a star.
I think Americans are much more open than they used to be to different kinds of ideas and stories. Actually, I think the British have become much more demonstrative, much more sentimental than they used to be. This sort of stiff upper lip is a much less prominent characteristic.
WS: The reaction to the death of Princess Diana was one illustration of that.
LAURIE: I didn’t want to bring that up, but that was an amazing display that I think would have been unthinkable 30 years before. If you had described that to British people 30 years before they would have said that could have never happened. But there we go, it was obviously always deep within us, we were just sort of rather suppressed.
WS: What stretch as an actor does the role of Gregory House present to you?
LAURIE: Most of the stretching I find is of a mechanical kind—it’s the volume of work you’re having to do and the number of decisions you are having to make in a day to actually keep something real and true and funny—to keep it alive. This is not something a stage actor does, you can’t just go and do this thing for two hours and be done. This is something you are having to think about and very actively think about, for 14, 15 hours a day for nine, ten months of the year. And it’s those mechanical things, the volume of it—dealing with the actors and dealing with the physical disability and all those sorts of things are actually harder than the emotional side, which I always felt, I can’t say that I found it easy, but I felt that I understood it. I knew what it should be, even if there were times—plenty of times—when I felt I hadn’t been able to do it right, I knew what it should be. From the moment I first read the script I had a very clear sound in my head of how it should feel.
WS: And he came to life to you right away.
LAURIE: Yeah, he did, actually. I had only read a couple of scenes to begin with. They sent me the first script and I only read a couple of scenes, but I felt straight away, I know who this guy is and I know how this should sound. Well, I know who the character is, but I also know who David Shore [the creator and one of the executive producers of House] is. I felt like I know what he is trying for here.
WS: As a viewer, the most refreshing thing about the show is that it makes you think, and there is so little on TV now that makes you think!
LAURIE: That’s right, that’s right! Well, I’m glad that you think that because I agree, I’m very proud of it. I’m very proud of it for lots of reasons, and while we don’t always succeed, I still think we have the energy and the will, and David certainly has the skill to continue to put difficult questions that make people wonder what is the right thing to do and what is the right way to behave.
WS: Who is the moral compass? Does David decide what the right thing to do is in a given episode?
LAURIE: It has to be that way. Of course it is a very collaborative medium, and he has a team of nine or ten writers who are all working on different stories. The only way it can work is that it has to be sort of one person’s voice. He and I, we discuss things at great length sometimes, and I will tell him what I think about a particular script or suggest what about this or what about that, but it has to be his decision—it is his creation. The character is his character. The character, to be honest, is him—David is much closer to House than I am, I think.
WS: Looking at how a show is produced in the U.S., which is significantly different than the way shows are produced
in Britain, from the writing process, the budgets and the amounts spent on the pilot process, what do you like about the U.S. system? Not to badmouth the Brits in any way!
LAURIE: Lord no, I plan to live there!
WS: And Britain has produced spectacular shows.
LAURIE: I suppose one of the things I like about the American system is that at the end of it all, whatever one may think about an average day, there is some great television drama being made. This is a good time for television drama, for all the difficulties and for all the uncertainties and economic problems, it is nonetheless a great time, which I think is largely to do with writers. It is completely a writers’ medium. Certainly in feature films, or in British television, the writer does not have the position that an American writer has on an American drama. They are not producers, for one thing. David is the executive producer, and he and Katie [Jacobs, one of the executive producers] run the show. That doesn’t happen in Britain and it doesn’t happen in feature films here. I like that; that has a lot to do with it.
The pilot system, I don’t know, it is a little odd and there is wastage, I suppose. But in a way I’m sort of reassured by the fact that people cannot predict an audience. I think we would have reached a depressing stage of human development if one clever person sitting in an office somewhere could actually predict, “If you put this actor with this writer and you tell this kind of story with these elements, the audience will love it.” If that day comes, I think that will say something rather depressing. So the very fact that audiences are unpredictable, fickle and fasten on to things that no one could have imagined that they would fasten on to, or they ignore things that everyone thought they would love, that involves waste. So people will make pilots [and say], “I could have sworn that would be a huge success, and who knows why it didn’t work.”
But in a funny sort of way I like that. I know I am not paying the bill, but I like the fact that we can’t know that mind of the audience, nor should we. It is a wonderful thing that we try to please, we try to guess at, but ultimately you can’t.
WS: It’s alchemy to a large extent, isn’t it?
LAURIE: It’s alchemy, exactly. And the only meaningful strategy you can have is to please yourself and do something that you like, and David has written a show that he likes and he would want to watch. And all of us who work on House, I think, are trying to do something that we would like, and hope, just hope that other people would like it, too. As soon as you get into the process of trying to guess, you are sunk—it’s all over.
WS: Now, where do you find time to write your novels? And when will the second one come out?
LAURIE: Well, the second one, as you can imagine, is rather delayed! Delayed by some years now, I’m afraid. But because of the success of House, the one book I did write, The Gun Seller, has now been translated into some 20-odd languages, so [the publishers] must be pleased about that, and that will keep them at bay for a while!
WS: Do you think about a life after House? Do you think about teaming up with Stephen Fry again?
LAURIE: I don’t really think about a life much after lunch. [Laughs] That’s about as far as I work! A couple of hours is my thing! I’m like a goldfish; I don’t have many plans.
I would love to work with Stephen again. He is in L.A. at the moment writing. We see each other and we talk about it. He’s also not very good at planning. Neither of us are good planners; we have no master scheme.
WS: So two goldfish.
LAURIE: Two goldfish, exactly! [Laughs] And every now and then we meet, and say, wait a minute, you’re also a goldfish.
WS: Will we see you play the piano again on House?
LAURIE: Oh, I hope so.
WS: You enjoy that, don’t you?
LAURIE: I do, I do. I don’t practice enough, I don’t have time to do that, either, but yeah, I do love it. I also think it’s an interesting element in the psychological makeup of this character, that for someone so apparently fiercely rational there is a romantic side to him. There is music in him and not just music of the mathematical, mechanical Bach kind. He has a romantic side and there is something beside that cold calculating machine inside his head, which I do like as an element.

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