It’s not too often I get to interview someone while they’re in full makeup. But when I got to visit the set of Thor earlier this year, Colm Feore did his interview in full costume and makeup as the King of the Frost Giants. If you’re not familiar with the Frost Giants in Thor‘s mythology, I’m not going to spoil how they play into the story. But I think it’s safe to say they’re not going to be BFF’s with Thor and his friends…
And while I’d love to run an image of what Feore looked like as it was incredible, Marvel has yet to unveil his character and what he looks like. However, the trailer for Thor is getting released later today and if there is an image of his character, I’ll update the story (he’s the one who is blue from head to toe). Just trust me when I say you will not believe your eyes when you see what he looks like. And it was all done practically!
During the interview Feore talked about his costume and makeup (which takes over 4 hours and is 17 pieces), explains his character and the research he did to get ready for the role, his thoughts on Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to what he had to say:
You can either read the full transcript below or click here to listen to the audio. Look for links to my other on set interviews and my full set report at the bottom of this article. Thor gets released May 6, 2011.
Colm Feore: Colm Feore. Newspaper column, Norwegian water. Column of steel, column of virtue, just for God’s sake, Colm.
Question: I’m just going to jump in and say, “Oh my God” with the makeup. Could you talk a little bit about, did you know what you were getting yourself into and has it been a challenge doing this?
Feore: You know what, I didn’t really until they came to my house and they said, “We have to do an impression of your feet, your hands, your teeth, your head, well pretty much everything. And then could you take a kind of heroic pose? Because we’re going to do some digital photographs and then they’re going to copy this and then they’re going to make something.” And I said, “Well, okay.” And out of sight, out of mind. I didn’t think about it until I showed up, went to Legacy [Effects], and they had pictures of me, the design, this, next to half-naked pictures of Iggy Pop. Now, without telling you too much about myself, half-naked…me and Iggy Pop look a lot alike. I’m not going to tell you which half. But as you can see, I’m not wearing a lot of clothes.
So, I said, “Is this what it’s going to be?” and they said, “Yeah and this is how it works.” This outfit, this costume is remarkable for a lot of reasons, not least of which it’s about 17 different pieces. The only thing that’s real, that’s me, is from here to here. Everything else, and I mean everything, top to bottom, everything is fake. And it’s laid on in four-and-a-half hours by this genius, Ve Neill, of course three-time Oscar winner [for] makeup and Arjen Tuiten from Legacy [visual effects producer: Digital Domain Vancouver] who sculpted and designed all this. And it comes in a variety of these pieces and they just put each one on and glue me into it, paint me blue and stitch me up and then wheel me out. It’s remarkable. And it takes forever. And slightly longer to get off. I’ve been doing a lot of work recently in trying to apologize to people for the blue eyeliner and the blue fingernails and the blue everything. Finally I just gave up. I just said, “Ya know, I’m in here every day shopping. Yes. I am a stripper. I work nights, okay? So if you don’t mind, just cut me some slack. Give me the bread, give me the wine, I’m leaving.”
It’s a little madness. But I kind of enjoy it, because it gives me a good four-and-a-half hours here at three in the morning when no one else is here, it gives me a chance to get into what the character is going to be. I start to assume the physicality and all the stuff that Ken Brannagh and I have talked about in terms of where this character sits and how he’s evolved. And, four-and-a-half hours later, this appears. From inside, it feels different to me than it looks to you, but it actually works as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s pretty scary and the voice…the voice is dropped. It really is. Clint [Eastwood] in outer space. “Get off my lawn,” is going to be my best line. “Don’t eat my dog.” Ya know? It’s going to be fun, because you don’t expect sensitivity, humanity, humor, heartbreak from this kind of guy, but the way Ken directs we managed to get all of that. So it’s been a wonderful synthesis of machinery, artistry and just good-on, old craft.
The red lenses, what exactly can you see? Is everything obscured?
Feore: Well, if you’re not a man in glasses standing in front of me with a tape recorder going like this, I can’t see anything. But if you are, then I see perfectly well.
How does this sort of restrict your movement, or can you hear?
Feore: Sorry, what?
(laughter) I fell right for that.
Feore: You did. No, this is the Nureyev of suits, this thing. It moves perfectly with me. It’s glued to me. I am stuck in it in ways that are really unimaginable…and indescribable.
How do you go to the bathroom then?
Feore: You don’t. I lost four nails the other day looking for my penis. And they told me, “You’re not to do that again.” I said, “Well, four-and-a-half hours in, 10 hours shooting, an hour-and-a-half out. Something’s gotta give, because, and I’ll tell you guys, please don’t tell anybody else, it comes in two pieces. So, we get into the first piece. Then, layer, layer, layer, do all of this. Then we jump into the trousers. Then I’m zip-tied in to this bottom piece and glued into the feet. So you can’t get out. There is a zipper…somewhere. But it’ll cost you money to find out where. And to actually make it functional, it’s pretty ridiculous. So, I plan ahead.
Are you ‘a’ Frost Giant or are you all of them, multiple?
Feore: “A” Frost Giant? I am the King of Frost Giants. And if you’ve seen any of the Frost Giants, you know that I am, of course, the Napoleon of Frost Giants. We’ve got some massive, fabulous guys who dwarf me and come in at around eight-and-a-half feet, nine feet. But, no. Can’t you tell by the commanding presence? I am the boss. The music will be big. When I show up there’ll be a big storm, there’ll be wind. No, it’s worked out beautifully. It’s very articulated and articulatable. The face moves with me. I have every range of expression. And, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to talk to Ken at all, but he’s brilliant. He’s brilliant for a lot of reasons. Not least of all because he’s been an actor his whole life. So he knows how to tighten the narrative of what he would do as an actor, so he can get inside and say three helpful words on a very tight schedule, an expensive schedule and just get right to the heart of the point. But he also is looking for most of it, here, right? It’s gotta be in the eyes. And if they don’t work, we’ve got nothing. So it had to be this expressive. [pauses for a scene being shot in the background] See this is way more acting than I’m being paid for. I’m much more subtle. They’re young, you see. Enthusiastic.
The work you’ve been known for in the past, like I love your Glenn Gould, but this seems like this is a totally new experience for you.
Feore: A departure? Well, this is not my first time in special effects make-up. I did a Stephen King thing years ago called Storm of the Century which was wacky. And the technology was much more primitive then. It was six hours in the chair doing all that kind of stuff. I’ve done rigorous appliqué make-up. Is it different from what I usually do? Chronicles of Riddick is space, sci-fi, looked a little sort of cartoony. I do everything. I just finished playing MacBeth and Cyrano de Bergerac in repertoire in a theater, came straight here to do this. They all feel, interestingly enough, as if they cross-pollinate, because everything that I’ve done in the theater, Brannagh is using. It was me and [Anthony] Hopkins and Ken standing around talking about, “Well, this is sort of like Lear. Is that sorta like…?” And we were using this shorthand for how to communicate effectively and immediately out here when it’s costing somebody serious money. So, to me, it isn’t a big departure. It’s just another job for which I hope I’ll get paid. As far as I’m concerned, the check doesn’t bounce, it’s a hit, I go home.
Are you able to walk around outside or are they being very careful with you?
Feore: You know what, I have seen…did you all come in this back hallway, and you saw me in that chair? That’s as far as I’ve got to the outside hall. I have a dressing room three doors down and it has a big dark curtain in it. That’s all I’ve seen for the four months that I’ve been shooting. I went to craft service today. I got a coffee outside because I did my electronic press kit interview at 6:45 this morning and I was allowed to walk in my street clothes to get coffee. I have never been seen outside. I have never seen outside. And I get it, because a lot of smart people have spent a lot of time thinking about the look, the design, the acting, the script and we’ve refined this as best we can, but we’re still working on it day by day by day. We’re refining it, we get new script pages and new ideas are coming.
We don’t want anybody to come off half-cocked and make a decision about what we’re only in the middle of doing, right? So if there’s shots of me out there, then somebody’s going to say, “Oh, that’s not the right way. That’s not this and that.” It has to be seen in context. And in the context of, as I say, confident [that] a lot of smart people have given it a lot of thought. So, no I don’t get outside and I’m actually okay with that. And I think it’s kind of fun. They were asking me at customs the other day coming in, I live in Canada, and they say, “What are you doing?” and I say, “Thor” “What’s it about?” “Can’t tell ya. Kid with a hammer. It’s big.” “What do you play?” “Ooo. That’s gonna cost ya.” I’m trying to get into the country and I have to be nice. And she said, “Well, I love everything you do. I’ll buy a ticket.” I said, “Good. May 6th, 2011, 7:30, Mann Chinese. Be there.”
Could you talk about the research you did when you found out you were going to be entering this universe? Did you read the books?
Feore: Yeah, I looked at a lot of the comics and I tried to just get an idea from that. Not necessarily specifics of what my look would be or what the plan would be because I knew the script was evolving. I then started the discussion with Ken, who had been in discussion with you guys, intimately. And that they’d pared it down. So I didn’t want to spend too much time going all over the map on this. I thought, “Okay, what do you really want?” And he said, “If you’re very, very good, I’ll send you a secret link to a secret site and you can have a secret look at a teeny little picture which will melt the moment you say ‘click ok’ and it’ll melt with your initials on it so you’re doomed if it goes anywhere else.” And I said, “Okay. Let me see that and then I want you to tell me what you’d like it to sound like.”
So now I’ve got the look that we’re talking about and I’ve got Ken’s idea of what it might sound like. We started talking about different ideas. We joked about it. I said to him, “Ken, you’ve really screwed me here. You cast Tony Hopkins. And I appreciate that it’s great for the movie, but I was going to play it like Tony Hopkins.” I was. I did a movie for Julie Taymor with him years ago called Titus, big Shakespeare thing with Jessica Lange. And I was asked to play his little brother. And they said, “Well, the thing about playing his little brother, you might have to act a little bit like Tony Hopkins.” And, forgive my teeth, but I can actually act a little bit like Tony Hopkins. I can sound like Tony Hopkins, I can actually do the whole, kind of, Tony Hopkins thing. And I thought, “Ken, I’ll give you Tony Hopkins, only, as you said, much cheaper.”
Then we’ve gone and cast him! And I said, “Oh! Shoot me first, then Tony will have to think of something else to do. He’s an actor, he can be stretched out. For me, it’s a huge leap forward. A poor man’s Tony Hopkins, it’ll be great.” But then he showed up and we were there on the same day. I didn’t have the heart to take his characterization, his personality away from him. So I said, “Well, what if I do an homage to Tony Hopkins, with a whisper of Max von Sydow, filtered through Paul Scofield?” Yeah, that’s about it. There’s a little something else. We kept adjusting the mix as we went and it actually worked out beautifully. So we started to assemble a palette of colors and sounds. And I said, “Okay. I will confine my research now to just what we’re going to be doing.” And Ken is so specific and so on time. Last December, maybe even late November, he said, “I’m going to be shooting a close-up of you on the first day of the first roll of film and it’ll be very important. And if we’d like it to be in the movie, you’d better be ready.” Usually it doesn’t happen like that. We shoot the wide, we shoot mediums, the actors warm up, they get a little bit familiar with the lines, they maybe even read the script. And then by the end of the day, we get it. He knew full well by that point the make-up might have simply melted off. So eight o’clock, in the morning, Friday the 8th of January, he was here. And he had a tight schedule. We needed to be done [with] that by lunch because something else was coming in, and so that sharpens your focus a good deal. So, for me, it was about sticking very close to the script, to the look and all our discussions about how it would sound.
Also, he’s a smart guy. He rehearsed us when it doesn’t cost much money, because there’s nobody else there really looking at the clock. It’s just a bunch of guys in the room saying, “What if we tried this? What if we tried that?” And Marvel has been extraordinary in responding to the things we just came up with. There was a wonderful moment where Tony and I, we have a confrontational scene. Originally, it was scripted, we were miles apart, because it’s a huge, heroic kind of thing. But we were in a little room rehearsing and there was something that Ken liked about the intimacy.
And I said, “Well I’ve got some superpowers, (that I don’t want to share with you here yet) but maybe I could use something like that.” And Craig said, “Absolutely, we might have something…” I show up the other day, we just shoot the scene. On the strength of that rehearsal, on that idea that we had, they built a launching thing out of the floor that would match for the sci-fi, go with the green screen so that we could go slam into a tiny intimate scene, about two guys going, “You know, your kid’s a fucking idiot.” “Yeah, I know. But you were an idiot once, too.” “Not that big an idiot. I might have to kill him.” “Oh, please don’t.” “Fuck you.” “Fuck you, too.” And then we go back to the huge big deal. We made this happen, they spent the money where it counted, it cost nothing to have the idea. But God bless you guys, Marvel came behind them and said, “This is a good idea. This really helps our narrative leap forward.” So that’s what we’ve been doing. You don’t mess around with Ken because when the ship sails, the ship sails. You get a couple of chances to be in the movie and, as I said, if I’m no good in this movie it won’t be his fault. He’s tried everything.
What is Chris Hemsworth bringing to the role of Thor?
Feore: Chris? Oh, he’s playing Thor? (laughter) Well, he’s very loud. And apparently, some people say, he’s very handsome. He’s not a tall blue. No, he’s charming. Beaming smile. And that kind of youthful, heroic idiocy that you expect from an action hero, right? No, he’s extraordinary. One of the chief things about him is that he’s charming. It’s actually hard for me to be really mad at him and growl at him, but I imagine he’s an idiot. And it helps, because we need somebody at the core of this picture to be the leader. We need to believe in him. And guys like me, I depend on him, you see. The more charming and the more agreeable and the more heroic he is, the more I hate him. And it makes sense, you know, “The world will be a better place when I get rid of you.” So, he clearly is doing a very good job. He’s sexy, I guess, after a fashion you’d have to tell me that, I don’t know. For people under a certain age, apparently he’s attractive. Fit. God knows he looks pretty good in the outfit. And he’s funny. That goes a long way. Charm is an intangible. Chutzpah, charm, charisma, that kind of thing, you can’t buy it. You either have it or you don’t. He’s got it in spades. And with his master Ken showing him the ropes and guiding him, it’s all going very, very well.
For more THOR coverage: