On Monday seven fans were given the opportunity to participate in a conference call with Eddie. Thank you to Eddie, his representation for making this possible but especially to Charlotte from bespokeredmayne for all of her hard work organizing the call and transcribing the call for each of us so you guys could enjoy it!
Eddie: Hey, guys!
Eddie: I want to thank you guys for being so supportive, as always, and I’m looking forward to your questions. So do we start with Judit?
Britney: It’s Britney, and, Eddie, we’re just going to start and if we have time for a second round, we will.
Britney: Judit, you want to go first?
Judit: My first question — Who was your idol when you were younger, a particular favorite actor, singer or artist who was fascinating for you, and whose photos were on your wall?
Eddie: Ooh, great question! I’m not sure about photos on my wall because I wasn’t really a photos-on-my-wall person — for some reason, I don’t know why. But I remember when I did a production of “Oliver” when I was like 11 or 12, I remember Jonathan Pryce was playing Fagin, and every night I was in the wings during the curtain call, and he would be doing his last song, and I remember watching from the wings and finding him pretty enthralling. And I think when I did “The Goat” with him, which was one of the first plays I did in London, he was pretty inspiring, and he remains a friend and, particularly in those early days he, and I would say, Mark Rylance, were two people who I massively looked up to, and they’re two actors who I still hugely admire their work. Interestingly, later in life, when I was doing “Hick,” randomly, I started watching James Dean’s films, and I thought he was pretty riveting. I had heard about his icon, but I didn’t…I hadn’t seen his work, and I couldn’t believe he’d only made three films. And I remember watching “Giant” and thinking he was, like, staggeringly transformative.
Ivonne: In a recent interview, you mentioned how J.K. Rowling first described Newt as having a Buster Keaton-esque quality to his walk, which I think is really cute. Your last few roles have been very physically demanding that it’s almost like their physicality is a more prominent trait than their psychology. Is there something about the complexity of bringing such characters to life that you find attractive?
Eddie: Interesting question — you guys, God, these questions! Something so rich, other than Bowtruckles! (Laughter) You know, what is interesting is that I was never, like, a physical actor. It wasn’t like — physicality wasn’t a routine. The thing that I was trying to get across in interviews was the notion of choice, the notion that I chose to play Stephen and then Lili, which looked like transformative things. It looked like it was, like I had an agenda, but the reality was I was offered Lili when we were doing Les Mis, and it was just circumstance that after Theory was coming out, it meant that we could get that film made. Certainly Stephen, there was a whole physical element, and with Lili, there was. But I hope — what I try to do is cover the physical, but hopefully it opens up a psychological thing, because there’s nothing worse than just a purely — if it’s just a sort of two-dimensional physical performance. And with Newt, yes, when Newt is first described in the script, he’s described walking down New York with this Buster Keaton-seque quality, and I think it’s a sort of unselfconsciousness that makes him stand out from the crowd. And it was specific, the words she used, that there was something clearly about his physicality. But then when I met this tracker dude who walked with — I actually found it a bit intimidating that she was so specific in her description — but when I met this tracker dude, it kind of made sense. And it was an interesting way to him because he is a weird mixture of being —like when you see him with his creatures, he’s incredibly confident, physically confident. But when he’s with human beings, he’s more of an observer and certainly less competent. So I do enjoy the physicality of characters, but — especially this one, but not Stephen Wraysford, because I remember one of the most challenging scenes I think I’ve ever done was a moment at the end of “Birdsong” when Stephen emerges from the trench — you know, we shot it independently of all the stuff we were doing in the trenches, and you try to work out, you know, what that must feel like physically, but underground and unable to stand up for such a long period of time, what that must have been like.
Charlotte: You’ve described many times your neuroses and insecurities — like the “rancid ball of fear”
Charlotte: …that helps fuel you, and I wonder, since you’re getting a whole new set of younger fans, if you could talk a little bit about some other qualities that contribute to your success that inspire young people like perseverance or building self-esteem, or being a nice guy, or whatever it is that you think is important.
Eddie: That’s really interesting. What’s interesting again is in these interviews is that you say something in one interview and the way people research the next interview is that they just read the other ones, and if an interviewer has exaggerated a quality, it becomes your narrative. And I particularly find that with some of that, like you’ll tell a story about a failed audition, and suddenly, because you thought it was funny and it was in no way damaging, it becomes this whole — in the press, it can become distorted and taken into something else. I definitely have a nervousness in me which fuels me, but what it really is is a work ethic. I feel like I was born lucky and with an interest and hopefully a talent in acting, and to a certain extent it was, you know, playing a lot while I was a kid. But the thing that I’ve learned — and if you look really from my early films I did — you know, I got into it through theater, and I didn’t have a clue how to act on film. And it’s been a massive, massive learning curve. The only way that you get better is by watching, learning and hard graft. I’ve had what, on paper, looks like a lucky run of it, and it is a massive amount of luck. But I’ve also sort of inherited from my family, I think, a pretty rigorous work ethic, and you have to work really hard. And I think in this day and age, certainly with reality TV and all that, that people get into acting for sort of wrong reasons — for some form of affirmation or celebrity status or whatever it is. But I got into acting with the dream of to do theater and to do plays and never thought that film would ever be a world that I would know anything about or learn. But that learning curve has been so inspiring, but you keep on grafting. The thing that’s interesting is people — lots and lots of times today, you won an Oscar and how do you choose this film or why this film. And one of the interesting things is after that extraordinary experience for me, you’re still trying to persuade people, you’re still trying to persuade the directors that you really admire who don’t necessarily like your work or don’t see you as a character — you keep having to put those characters that you want to play, you keep having to keep knocking on doors and persuading people. Or otherwise you don’t feel like the work ethic side of things ever lets up, really.
Charlotte: That was a great answer. Thank you so much.
Eddie: I don’t know. It was quite long-winded.
Charlotte: But it was something young people need to hear.
Eddie: Ah, good.
Cris: Hi, Eddie.
Cris: Would you describe your first day in the Potter world?
Eddie: Wow. My first day — the first day I was being taken around the backlot in Leavesden next to the Potter world experience and being shown the sets. Even though I knew this film was going to be painted on a large canvas, nothing had really prepared me for the scale of the sets, and I had this sort of slight feeling in my stomach of remembering turning up on the day one of “The Good Shepherd” and seeing the scale of the sets they had built, and I found it disabling in some ways. It made me so nervous that I couldn’t — I found the scale of it a bit inhibiting. And so it was weird because I felt the same slice of knot in my stomach and decided that this time I needed to free myself of that. And so I took a long walk around all of the sets, and became familiar with them and then went and looked around at all the production design department and met with all the CGI guys and really tried to embed myself into the fabric of the whole process so I didn’t feel like, so that I felt that I knew everyone around the set and didn’t feel so intimidated.
Kate: Hey, Eddie.
Eddie: Hey, Kate. How are you?
Kate: I’m doing well, how about yourself?
Eddie: Not too bad (laughs).
Kate: My question is so easy. You’re going to love it (laughter). I got the option with my ticket of watching it in 3D — which I obviously chose.
Kate: Are you excited to watch yourself on the screen in 3D?
Eddie: Have you seen it yet?
Kate: No, I can’t see it until Friday when it opens here.
Eddie: You know, I’m so curious to see it in 3D because I haven’t seen it in 3D, and it wasn’t shot in 3D. It was one of those things where they sort of transfer it after the event. But the thing I have loved when I’ve seen films in 3D is that you really get a kind of like —you see the meticulousness of some of the design aspects. One my favorite — for me, the magic of the Potter films was all the little magic, the small stuff, the moving newspapers and all the idiosyncratic things, the portraits in which they would sort of be moving or complaining or talking to each other. And I think that all that detail, which I love in this film will shine in 3D. But I have no idea. I think it might be genuinely quite terrifying in 3D. (Laughter) I’m not sure it’s a healthy thing for an actor to see themselves — it’s disturbing enough to see yourself on a massive scale, but seeing yourself in all the dimensions — it’s probably not ideal.
Fran: Hi, Eddie, it’s Fran.
Fran: First, before I start my question, I want to say can you pass on a thanks to those people who were giving out the free tickets in the line for the premiere, because I’m currently in New York, and that made a lot of people’s day that day.
Fran: And that comes to my question. I found you had amazing comedic talent and timing in Fantastic Beasts. It’s so good. And you had the same amazing timing and chemistry with Benedict Cumberbatch on the Graham Norton Show. (Eddie chuckles). And I know you worked with him on “The Other Boleyn Girl,” and would you like to work with him again and on what type of project do you think you’d work best together?
Eddie: Ohhhh, interesting. That’s a very interesting question. Thank you for being kind about comic timing. I’m not sure it’s true, but I —
Fran: It is, it’s very much true.
Eddie: But I really enjoyed it on this film, and when you guys who haven’t seen this film and you see it, Dan Fogler is just extraordinary as Jacob. He’s such a comedian, and I learned a lot from him, actually. And it was really fun. Making this film was so much fun. When you’re doing that sort of comedy, which is quite physical, you have to sort of release the inner kid in you that just made the days so enjoyable. But I would love — thank you for saying I had good chemistry with Ben. I adore Ben. I’m frickin’ awful at talk shows, and the last month has been…there are either really good anecdotes or your really funny, and in my family I’m neither the best at anecdotes nor funny, so basically, once you’ve run out of anecdotes on those shows, particularly when you do as many as you do with a film of this scale, you just end up having to publicly humiliate yourself (laughs). And there’s still more to come, by the way. But, I love Ben, and I think he is such an extraordinary talent, and I think — he is a mixture of wonderful comic timing and such authority as an actor. I would love to work with him. I would love to work with him, maybe on stage actually.
Fran: Oh, that would be a dream, I think for everybody here! Certainly for me. Thank you for your question.
Ali: First off, congratulations on the birth of your daughter. As a parent, I know what a big deal that is.
Eddie: Aw, thank you!
Ali: My question is you mentioned being a fan of the Harry Potter books and films before being cast as Newt. As a fan what was something that you found the most fascinating when being on the set of Fantastic Beasts?
Eddie: What was the most fascinating — you know, for all the CGI-ness of the situation and all the things that weren’t there, it was the stuff that I loved — you may have seen the scene where Ali, Alison Sudol and Katherine cooks the strudel. And we’re in this room — these two girls live together, and there’s all this sort of magic going on. So we were doing this scene, and it’s a lovely scene, and it’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie, and we walked in and it was about two hours of working before I realized that it was moving next to the fire this kind of rack of clothes drying was moving, next to the fire, by itself. And I genuinely thought it was magic. And I looked up, and up near the ceiling there were like four puppeteers with invisible wires, and they had been puppeteering without me noticing. And it was that sort of thing — and I’ve said it before in other interviews — but there was a moment in the film where you just see me walking past, Katherine and I just walk past this wand cleaner. And you know back in the day they had shoe cleaners in subway stations in New York, and instead you have this elf at this sort of wand cleaner/feather boa thing. And they actually built this thing that was moving on its own. And I supposed it’s the old school stuff that I love.
Britney: I’m so sorry everybody, but we won’t have time for a second round of questionsBut thank you guys so much.. You guys, your questions are always so great and thoughtful.
Eddie: Absolutely true. They are always the best, and thank you all again for really for being so supportive. It means the world. And I’m sure I’ll see you guys in different places. (Group thank yous to him)
Eddie: Bye, guys.