Actors that Made an Impact this Year
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On taking the risk of playing Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn after early comparisons: I wondered if this was just asking for trouble. When I was compared to him in my early career, it was with the notion I was hubristic, outrageous, competitive, or any version of the above. I certainly feared those kinds of issues would come up again, and that wasn’t really helpful to anybody. But I was surprised at the way this portrait in miniature meant the movie wasn’t a biopic about either Marilyn Monroe or Olivier, but more of a snapshot of this strange moment in their lives. Suddenly I had things going for me: I was somebody who understood a little bit more than some about what it’s like to direct and act in a movie— specifically some we’ve both done, like Henry V and Hamlet. In the end, I absolutely consider it to be an honor to be given the opportunity to show some light and shade in his character.
The actor whose performance most inspired his views on acting: Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons had an amazing quality I found very, very influential in trying to find an acting style—a naturalism, a truth that could accommodate whatever magnitude, whether I was playing a very quiet character or a very loud one.
The moment he knew he had no choice but to be an actor: I was maybe 17 and doing plays at school, and when I was onstage—when I was in a play—I felt so utterly and completely at home. Then a teacher who was directing the play said, “There’s a young man in the cast who’s good enough to do it professionally, and you should see him now while you can.” I couldn’t believe I was hearing this—he pointed out that it was me! And that was like a light going on: You could do it professionally. It was a kind of internal illumination of clarity. Even when my parents talked about having something to fall back on, that was never going to happen. This was the only thing I could do. It was in my bones.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW MCPHERSON