A & E
circa 1997

A&E - Jane Eyre interview (short)

Ciaran Hinds captivated viewers as the villainous Norman knight, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert in the recent A&E/BBC co-production IVANHOE. This Fall he takes on the role of the mysterious Mr. Rochester in the latest adaptation of the Charlotte Brontė classic JANE EYRE. Regarding JANE EYRE, Hinds was amazed when he was offered the role of Mr. Rochester--an offer that he couldn't refuse. He remarked: "It meant not having a break after IVANHOE, but it was another great part. My only concern was the responsibility of taking on a role that's been seen in many television and film versions. I'm taking the risk of being shot down, but I think it's worth the gamble!"

Hinds is also known to North American audiences for his performance as Captain Wentworth, in the highly acclaimed film Persuasion, and in Dennis Potter's Cold Lazarus. Other film credits include: My Mother's Son, Circle of Friends, December Bride and Peter Greenaways's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. For television, he has appeared in: "Prime Suspect 3," "Soldier, Soldier," "Between The Lines," "Seaforth," "A Dark Adapted Eye," and starred in Catherine Cookson's "The Man Who Cried."

Trained at RADA, Hinds has been a leading actor with the Glasgow Citizens Company for several seasons. His theater roles include the title role in Webster, Charles in Blithe Spirit, Jack Clitheroe in The Plough & the Stars, The Last Days of Mankind, The Rosenkavalier, Arsenic & Old Lace, Faust and Trigorin in The Seagull. Roles at Greenwich Theatre included: The Way of the World and leads in Richard III and The Lady From The Sea.

For The Field Day Company he performed in Antigone and School For Wives. He also toured the world in Peter Brook's Mahabharata. Hinds played the leading role in The Cuchulaine Cycle at the Abbey Theatre Dublin and his roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company, RSC, included Mortimer in Edward II, Achilles in Troilus & Cressida and Boucicault in Two Shakespearean Actors and Don Juan.

Currently he is performing at London's National Theatre in their production of Closer, and this November his film, Oscar and Lucinda with Ralph Fiennes is due out. Below are excerpts from a conversation that took place on the JANE EYRE set where Hinds discusses what it is like playing the mysterious, Mr. Rochester.

"When the part of Mr. Rochester was offered to me, I hadn't actually met the director or producer! I was pretty curious to meet the director, Robert Young. However, it soon came clear to me when he explained that he had heard me in the radio version of "Jane Eyre" a few years previously, when I had also played Rochester. He felt the passion that came through was what he wanted on screen. I suppose having seen me in Persuasion, he was able to assess whether my face fitted. It was as though I'd already done my audition and was certainly an odd way to get a part. Not that I'm complaining!"

No stranger to costume dramas, Hinds has become used to wearing breaches and growing whiskers. "When I started working on JANE EYRE, I had just finished filming IVANHOE complete with full beard. This turned out to be pretty handy, as all I had to do was shave it partially off and leave rather extensive sideburns--although I did get some odd looks walking round south London!" he jokes.

Hinds admits that taking on the role of Mr. Rochester didn't come that naturally: "Although I'd done the radio version, I have to admit I hadn't actually ever read the book, although I'd always meant to! I think it was good I didn't have any misconceptions before the shoot--and anyway, as soon as I read the script I soon realized what an arrogant, bullying chauvinist Rochester really was."

Hinds adopted an English accent, but also dabbled with his native Irish blarney in rehearsals: "I can do lots of bad accents! But when us Irish do English accents, we can sometimes make it rather stiff and bland, which is totally unfair. It was just a chance for me to play with it."

With the passion between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester crucial to the story, it is sometimes difficult for an actor to be objective: "Hinds remarked, "Until you see the finished article, it's hard to know whether all the elements work. Essentially if there's no chemistry between Sam and myself--then we're in trouble! But if things weren't right, I think I would have felt it during filming."

"I always feel slightly nervous seeing a film in its finished state. There are bound to be moments when you wished you'd done something differently, but in the end you just have to accept what's on the screen."

Regarding his character's cruelty, Hinds comments: "The fact that Jane stands up to Rochester intrigues him. Although he sees her sparkle he won't let Jane know this and almost immediately his heart is touched by her. Playing Mr. Rochester is almost like being in Beauty & The Beast--what I want to know is who's 'The Beast'?"

Hinds continues: "Essentially he [Rochester] is a very selfish man and completely self-obsessed. My job is to try and make people have sympathy with him, but there is so little about him to like, that Jane is his saving grace. I'd like to think that he's pretty far removed from me--well he has a big house for a start--and I don't!"

On his co-star Samantha Morton: "She is very strong and knows exactly what she wants to do with the script, whereas I don't generally work that way. There was immediately a great understanding between us and I think she is one of the most talented young stars we currently have. Watching the way Sam works was inspirational because she is so thorough and becomes totally passionate about the role and the subject."