When Ifound out that Edward Norton was actually going to do press for The Painted Veil, I knew I had to be there.As a huge fan of his work, and the fact that he didn’t do the rounds for The Illusionist,I knew that if he was going to talk about this film than it must have beenreally important to him. Since it has only just come out in LA and
The Painted Veil is a love story in reverse. Thefilm is based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham andit’s about a young English couple, played by Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, whomove to
If you are a fan of Edward Norton, he’s once again great in thisrole. But for me to single out Edward on his own would be a disservice to therest of the cast. Performances were great across the board, especially NaomiWatts. Also the film looks great up on the big screen and it really reminded meof a classic
Beforegetting to the interview I would recommend watching the trailer as it does agreat job at showing you the lush locals that they got to film in, as it wasmade in
The junket for this film was a press conference and whilemost of the Q and A is with Edward Norton, TobyJoneswas also there and he answers a question or two. His responses arein blue.
The Painted Veil will be expanding in the coming weeks so look for it soonwhere you live.
Questions:Edward, what is it about this project that has instilled passion in you forso long and why you’d stick with it?
Norton: Well, three years shorterthan Ron [Nyswaner]. Ron ten years. Myself seven years. Toby [Jones] gotinvolved three weeks ago [Laughs]. I guess that simply put anyone who lovesmovies and you watch David Lean films or a movie like ‘Out of Africa’ orsomething like that you cannot help as an actor to think about how fun it mustbe to have one of those kinds of experiences, what a challenge it must be tomake films with that kind of scope. So, I don’t think that many of those filmsget made and I think that a lot of times when they do get made they don’t getsent to me. So when I saw one that I thought had that potential in it, it wasvery hard to stop ruminating on it. On a specific level, just as an actor Ithought that it was so good. I don’t tend to see my life reflected in moviesabout people who meet when their dogs tangle up.
Norton: No, no, no. I’m not beingspecific. I’m just saying that I thought that it was a kind of romance that Iactually liked. It touched me and I felt like it was a story about the longstruggle of men and women to actually understand each other in a forgiving wayand I found that very touching because it is challenging. Reading it, it’s like– what’s the right way of putting it? It’s a challenge to you so that you cansay, ‘Am I capable of that? Have I done that? Have I been forgiving myself?Have I had the courage to forgive someone ever? Have I gone higher throughthat?’ So when you have that kind of a response to a piece of material to meit’s a good place to start because you already begin to see what you can offerthrough it, what it might give back to people watching it. All of that to me israre. Those things don’t come across my desk every week or every years. So allof that made me very persistent about it.
Questions:Your character was so vicious in some of these scenes. Does help you to get outsome of the aggression or passive aggression in your life, those moments in thefilm?
Norton: I don’t think that therearen’t any of us who can’t relate to the desire to poison our loved ones[Laughs]. No.
Questions:Anyone in particular?
Norton: No. I don’t know. I don’tthink that I use acting as an outlet for things that I don’t get to express inlife, and yet there is some sort of funny satisfaction in that. Maybe it’s away of venting off things inside of you. I don’t know though. Not to sound hifalutin, but I always gravitated myself towards Stella Adler who’s really oneof the great thinkers I believe about acting. She was always saying thatfundamentally she always considered acting to be an imaginative process whichis something that I kind of agree with. Other people I’m sure have completelydifferent attitudes towards it, but I’m saying that me personally, I enjoy theimaginative part about it.
Questions:How did you like your character, and was it easy or hard getting the Englishaccent down? Was it tough for you?
Norton: No. I think that thosethings are almost like a musical ear. I had a dialect coach on the film who Ithought – I’ve never liked dialogue coaches, and on this one I had someone whoI actually thought was incredibly helpful. The character, a lot of what I’vebeen saying is true, but anytime that a character emerges in slices and keepsdeepening and revealing levels that were not obvious on initial encounter,that’s very compelling for me.
Questions:You said a minute ago that you don’t meet people when your dogs get entangled.How do you think people go about meeting each other nowadays?
Norton: You know what, I said thatjokingly, but actually a really good friend of mine met the love of his lifewhen their dogs got tangled up. So I’m just saying that doesn’t happen in reallife. It just hasn’t happened in my life.
Questions:But how do you meet people then?
Norton: Oh, I never talk about anyof that stuff.
Questions:Do you believe in coincidence?
Norton: Sure, yeah.
Norton: I don’t know.
Questions:Can you talk about your experience in
Norton: I only missed aircondition one time the entire time over there. Mostly we had air conditioning.I think that I’d spent some time in
Questions:Did you pick up the language at all?
Norton: No. I can’t claim anyfacility with Chinese.
Questions:What did you discover in working with Naomi Watts as an actress?
Jones: Nothingspecific, I would say, that I discovered that I wasn’t expecting having seenher other work. She brings an incredible intensity to her work and yet seems towear it very lightly when you’re working with her. You’re not aware of it, butthere is incredible focus going on. Maybe that’s the mark of great screenacting and the sort of effortlessness of that kind of intensity. It’s whatdistinguishes it maybe from theater acting – maybe. I don’t know. I was reallystruck by her access to that inner life, if you like, of that character.
Norton: I agree with that. I mean,this is one moment out of many, but I thought that when Naomi showed up in
Questions:Is it difficult doing the love scenes?
Norton: Not when you’ve workedwith the people for a long time, not if it’s embedded appropriately deep in theprocess so that there is trust and comfort there. I think that by the time thatwe worked on that in this film, and it’s a modest scene where there’s nothingtoo difficult there, but I think that by the time we were doing it in this filmwe wanted them to be together. It was nice and it’s also very technical. A lotof it is akin to dancing choreography. It needs to be choreographed.
Questions:Toby, can you talk about your character in this film?
Jones: Well, he’s a funcharacter to play because he doesn’t seem to belong to anything. He seems to beuprooted and yet he seems to bring something from where he’s been and from alldifferent aspects of his life. It’s fun to play something like because [
Questions:What’s next for you, Edward?
Norton: I made a film called’Pride and Glory,’ but it’s not going to be out until much later.
Recent Collider Interviews
Inland Empire – David Lynch and Laura Dern
The Fountain – Darren Aronofsky