INTERVIEW: MATT DAMON & HEATH LEDGER (THE BROTHERS GRIMM)

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INTERVIEW: MATT DAMON & HEATH LEDGER (THE BROTHERS GRIMM)

Post  Admin on Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:13 pm

INTERVIEW: MATT DAMON & HEATH LEDGER (THE BROTHERS GRIMM)
08.26.05
By George Merchan
Now this was a fun duo. Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, the Bourne films) and Heath Ledger (A Knight's Tale, Lords of Dogtown) were not only two genuinely funny and charming guys, but they're also the types you know you could chill with and shoot the shit. Just real down to earth fellas. And thanks to them, this turned out to be one of the more enjoyable junkets in my young reporting career.

The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills was the site, and here's how the roundtable went down.

The Brothers Grimm opens today nationwide.

Q: How was it being on the set with Terry [Gilliam]? Did you guys have fun?

Ledger: Yeah, we did. We had heaps of fun. It was kinda different, wasn't it?

Damon: Yeah, I'd say it was a different type of fun. I mean, it was like hard work fun. You know, we're both capable of geeking out over filmmaking and there was a lot to kinda geek out about. Terry shoots in 14mm lenses, 17mm lenses...

Ledger: Very wide.

Damon: So you can really see the whole world. And then he packs the frame so densley from side to side and really deep that you have like fifteen elements working in any one shot. So, all these different departments have to get their jobs done perfectly in order for the shot to work. And that was sort of the fun and rewarding part to actually get a shot that was Terry Gilliam approved so we could move on to another one. And that was... you know, a fun part of our day!

Ledger: Yes! [Laughter]

Q: Can you talk about the bond between the two of you?

Damon: The bondage that we went through? [Ledger bursts out laughing.]

Ledger: Uhhh...

Damon: Well, let's get Monica [Bellucci] in here...

Ledger: That's funny.

Damon: Sorry, that's just my fantasy. I don't know how that slipped out! [Laughter] No, I'm kidding.

Q: In the notes, it talks about the two of you bonding together in the beginning...

Damon: [Laughs] They put that in the press notes?

Q: Yes.

Damon: [Laughs] Wow. Well, yeah we did.

Ledger: We had 4 weeks before we started shooting where we collaborated on ideas for each other's characters, working on accents, horse riding, and you know, the friendship, the bonding just came naturally. We didn't sit down and have bonding sessions. [Laughter] It was part of the creative process. And we both came on board with the same level of enthusiasm since we were working with Terry and wanted to do our jobs properly. So really, we saw eye to eye on everything. It wasn't really a stretch for us.

Q: Matt, can you talk about the accent and how you decided on that?

Damon: Well, that was Terry's decision because, you know, the guys are German and he didn't want us marching through the forest going [Damon and Ledger in unison], "Vat are you dueen?!" [Laughter] But he did want it to sound foreign, though. So he just went with English. And that was really hard for me. I found that with accents in this country, I don't really have a problem because I can just go there and fall into it. But with English, there's just a lot of sounds that we don't have that I really had trouble hearing. And I lived in London! I mean, I did that play over there a couple of years ago. So I've spent a lot of time there. It's just that...

Ledger: It's hard. Physically, it's a hard accent for Americans to match.

Damon: Yeah, it's like you have to develop certain muscles that we don't use. It was really hard for me to do.

Ledger: But you nailed it, you know? You got it.

Q: Terry seems to keep his actors on edge or slightly off-balance before surprising them with a different idea. What kind of a challenge is that? Is that something you look forward to?

Damon: Yeah, but it's not like he really...

Ledger: He doesn't surprise us too much.

Damon: No, he doesn't surprise us but he's very good at communicating to all these different people. I mean, so many have to get their job right in order to get his vision to come to life that he's really good at communicating to each department exactly what he needs them to do. So as an actor, it's not like he goes, "Now do it standing on your head!" You're included in his process. It's not some mystery to you, because the more information that's shared, the better the job gets done. So everyone always knows where they are on the set at all times.

Ledger: Yeah, if he wants you to stand on your head, he'll go and stand on his head.

Damon: [Imitating Gilliam in a haggard voice] "Yeah, you gotta do it like this!" [Laughter]

Q: The relationship the two characters have is sort of a passive-aggressive thing. Heath, you come out looking more delicate in a sense.

Ledger: Well we trying to contrast each other a little bit, you know? Present different qualities as brothers but also have similarities, like the fact that we would stand with these brave faces in the midst of danger but then cower and scream like little girls and just run away.

Damon: Run away!

Ledger: [Laughs] Yeah.

Q: Both of you are actors that really love playing with your characters. Does that influence how you look for and pick up scripts?

Ledger: At this point what I look for is that director that will allow us to play those characters. It was Terry who allowed us, who dared us, to be bad, eccentric, and bigger. And we had to be big because we were competing with his sets and this beautiful world he was creating. If were weren't, we would've been chewed up by it. And in terms of playing characters that test us, for me... and I'm sure Matt's the same way... I guess we'd just get bored if we kept doing the same thing over and over again.

Damon: I have heard stories of actors, and I won't name names, who that when you see them, they're just not excited with whatever they're doing. And it's because they're going to play the same guy that they play every single time. And it's become like going to the salt mines for these guys. [Ledger laughs] For us, it's like each movie is so different. And again, like Heath said, it's because of the directors. There is nothing straight forward about Terry. It's like he would never make a movie like that. It's a combination of choosing those people, but also having the philosophy of wanting to try things that are different. Whether they succeed or not doesn't matter as long as it's a different experience. I mean, that's a philosophy that applies to life.

Ledger: Definitely.

Q: About the worlds that Terry creates... are they as remotely beautiful in person as they are onscreen?

Damon: Oh yeah. It was overwhelming.

Ledger: Definitely. Everyday was such a rich experience.

Damon: It's probably the biggest movie I've ever been involved in. There were two soundstages connected to each other since the entire forest was all indoors. And then there's the backlot where they shot the village and you could shoot 360 degrees. You could go into any of those villiage huts.

Ledger: The forest was a real uprooted forest.

Damon: That they burned down.

Ledger: Burned down! [Laughs]

Q: How big was the tower?

Damon: The tower was inside and was only a few stories high. Maybe 50 feet. There were actually three different tower sets and they all only went up about halfway. But the whole going up to the spire was all special effects. And then there was the roof part that Heath climbs up on. That was only about 10 feet off the ground.

Q: Can you talk about the fact that Terry cast you guys against type and what people typically associate you with?

Damon: Yeah, well we actually begged him to switch roles because he had originally cast us as the opposite of what we've got now. We both felt like we had done that before. And he actually said that for 12 Monkeys he had switched Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, because at the time, Bruce would've been known as more of the crazier guy than Brad. And he really liked the way it worked there because it's more challenging and more fun for everybody if they're doing things differently.

Q: Matt, right now you're working with Martin Scorsese. What is that like?

Damon: The feeling is the same as when I got to work with Terry. It's amazing, though, because [Scorsese's] sets are like a church. The quietest I've ever been on, you can't even imagine. It doesn't even feel like being on a movie set. Everyone's really focused. And you know, everyone's really happy to be working with him. It's a pretty reverential kind of atmosphere.

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Rest In Peace Heath Ledger
1979-2008
You will be Never forgotten

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