Miscellaneous Interviews and Quotes (2)
From THE INDEPENDENT, London, February 1993
"GREATNESS THRUST UPON HIM"
DIARY - Simon Russell Beale played Richard III as a humpback and paid for it with a slipped disc. Which gave Ciaran Hinds just over a week to step into his shoes. CIARAN HINDS - Belfast-born Ciaran Hinds is 39; he has worked extensively at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, including the lead in Richard III. He worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1990 to 1992, when his roles included Don Pedro in The Last Days of Don Juan, Achilles in Troilus and Cressida and Mortimer in Edward II. He also performed in the international tour of Peter Brook's Mahabharata. His most recent role was Sam Byck in Assassins at the Donmar Warehouse. Television roles include December Bride; Brian Keenan in Hostages; and the lead in Catherine Cookson's The Man Who Cried. "BARBICAN: Terry Hands in a black bomber jacket, kneading a piece of bluetac in one hand, chainsmoking with the other, talking about Richard III, '[Shakespeare] doesn't give Richard a rest. Hamlet has all that Ophelia stuff. Lear's got the whole Edmund sub-plot, but Richard is on throughout. With the terrible physical strain, of course, of sustaining a crippled position all evening.' He tells me that when Robert Hirsh did it for him in his Comedie Francaise production, he limped on alternate legs from night to night, with two sets of costumes. 'You might like to think along similar lines. I've been advised by an osteopath that irreparable damage can be done to the pelvis otherwise. It's a little known historical fact, but apparently after the original production Burbage said to Shakespeare, "If you ever do that to me again, mate, I'll kill you."'" From Antony Sher's 'Year of the King'.
SUNDAY 24 JANUARY: Came home in the afternoon to find a message that Sam [Mendes] had phoned. I called him back and he said: "Are you sitting down?" He told me about Simon's back and said he needed someone to take his place, would I be interested? I thought about it - I've worked with Sam in Assassins - and I said yes. Ever since, every half hour I've said "Jesus Christ what have I done?" I've got 10 days.
MONDAY: I've started frantically learning the part - it's been six years since I've done it and there's been a lot of water under the bridge since and there are a lot of lines. Still, it's an adventure.
WEDNESDAY: I feel bamboozled. My head's addled. From 10:30 am to 5pm I rehearsed, then went off with Sam and worked for another three hours, then supper and more learning. I'm half-way through the first half. If you learn slowly you can gaze into the thought processes. If you do it faster you can't. The company is great - after five months of doing this they've got to go through the motions all over again, starting with a read-through. At one point the understudy Sam Graham said: "Mark your text with chance to have a fag." I may have time to roll one, but not to smoke it.
I saw the production last night. Very clear, played in a square, monochrome and grey, interesting music. The first part is about the machinations of power, the second part a man's isolation. I went to watch and found I got involved in the story instead. I'm doing something I've never done before, in that I am doing Simon's version, following Simon's logic, fitting into the physical thing that he did. Simon had a stick and a hump - I didn't have a stick when I last played Richard. Hopefully, hopefully, after some time, and within the parameters that we've set down, I'll be able to put something in that's mine. I have less sense of panic now I've learnt some of it, though I started reading the second half and there's miles to go. I'm swimming round coping with the moves - it's not organic for me and I need to find a reason why I do everything I do or I'll resent it. The fewer there are involved in a scene, the more you can play off the text and the more it becomes your own. But time's so short you've just got to have the balls and the nerve to take directions from everybody.
THURSDAY: Went over some of the words in the bath this morning. They came through lightly, warmly, without any pressure. A good feeling. Before I began rehearsing with the company I tried to get my lines for the first few scenes and failed, so I carried the text instead of pretending to know it. I felt grateful for that and concentrated on learning ways to get off and on stage, and who was who.
Simon's stick. Well, it's there, but I don't know what I'll do with it, how much I'll lean on it, how much weight I'll put on it. We'll worry about that next week. The worry now is that when you haven't got time to think through what you're doing you fall back on tricks instead. You don't want that. With Shakespeare you get on top of the iambic pentameter but you've got to be living every moment, the thought, the argument, the fun, and not taking shortcuts to get there. But that takes reflection and that's in short supply.
I'm working on the second section now, but the further I go the longer it takes because I have to keep going back on what I've done before to make sure it's there. When I get an idea for something I have to make sure that no one else objects to it - I'm an outsider and the company has been doing things a certain way. They need to be up for the game that I'm playing. You can panic, but at times like this extraordinary things can happen.
Had a costume fitting. I'm six foot and slimmish, so Simon's hump needs reshaping. It's got to look like a real growth. I don't know how to limp yet. It's got to be simple, no silly walks. I try things out on the way to the tube. Simon was quite doubled over, his movement very off balance to one side - if I did that it would look like a tall man trying to be small.
It was a relief not to talk for half an hour during a fight call. I'm not too unfit, but what you need is timing, tension, twisting and turning and speed. It'll be a flash, but it's got to seem real. It's all too easy for someone to get hurt. There's no point doing it if its not exciting so we've got a different way out if we're not ready. I haven't bought a paper for four days in a row - that's the first time in years. The outside world hasn't really had a look-in.
I'll work on the end of the first half for a couple of hours until midnight and I'll be a fairly happy person on one little level if I've got that.
FRIDAY: I'm so tired I sleep very deeply - no dreams like Richard's. You do a bit before you go to sleep and when you wake up, you say "Where was I?" and you don't remember and you look for the book beside the bed. Suddenly real life comes in and you think, this is stupid, how can I be so frantic every working hour? The first thought is, what can you remember? Gave the daughter her breakfast, had a cup of tea and thought, how long have I got? Words begin turning over as I walk to the tube.
Started at 10 past 10 - a bit late - working on my own with Sam, talking through what we've got to do, how to approach the coronation, when he becomes king and begins to mistrust everyone and is always thinking, who is behind me? There's the scene between him and Elizabeth, whose children he's killed, when he wants to marry her daughter Richard gets angry - it's a very simple structure but inside you sense his panic, the need to do a deal, to manipulate - there are 52 things going on. Richard has to woo Anne over the body of her father-in-law, whom he murdered. What's the way out of that? I think it works for him as a thrill. It's more difficult for Anne; she has to move from bitterness and hatred. What breaks through that is his honesty - his calculated use of it. We've done it once, but haven't blocked it - it's when you're working off people that the real work starts.
I've got the first half firmly cememted. Having known the part six years ago doesn't help - the cuts are different, which changes the rhythm and the thought patterns, and without the thoughts the words disappear.
We do the blocking of the second half - a perfunctory trot through the lines. In a longer rehearsal you talk, improvise, set up technically. We did it very gently, script in hand. The company is very tired. They've been touring for three and a half months and when they came to London they thought it would be just the evening performances and no pressure. First there was Simon not well, then this. Mayhem.
I have an ever-changing relationship with Richard - sometimes he's a beast, sometimes human - there's the political, supernatural, funny parts of his behaviour. I feel a wee bit closer now - it's like getting into a book; at first it's tough, then you crack it. We ignored the fight today and just blocked it in slow motion. We didn't risk anything - they might have had to find another Richard.
SATURDAY: Normally on Saturday I'd get up with the daughter and maybe go to the park and shop and pass the day very idly. Instead I raced out.
I did two scenes with the women without the text. They are all about manipulation, the art of seduction, rage. You get lost in it, but then you lose a line. But it was rewarding; there's something there. Sometimes you're brave enough to make jumps, take risks, sometimes not. You have to have something concrete to leap off from - but sometimes it's into blancmange.
Took two hours off and cooked some lunch - steak, rice and salad - watched the football and read the newspaper. Same old dreadful dirges and not many funny stories. I've thought a bit more about the crippledness - it will be just down one side with a twist of a limp and I'll have a gloved hand. I'll keep it to a minimum.
This time last Saturday I hadn't a clue about all this. It's amazing what you can do when you have to. I've surprised myself. When you're younger, you learn quicker; when you're a bit older you think more about the quality of what you're doing, you explore the subtleties and vagaries more carefully rather than jump straight in.
I've got to learn from the coronation to the battle yet and then I should be off the book completely - God willing, touch wood. People are coming to the theatre and asking for their money back - which is fair enough. I was looking forward to seeing Simon's Richard, too. I haven't felt nervous yet; nerves are about ego, about failing, and I try and tell myself I've just got to fire the story.
SUNDAY: A long lie-in, then I set to work cementing stuff in my "dull unmindful" brain to just before the battle. Lunch and out to the park - swings and slides with the daughter - the first time I've been out in the air except for travelling to and from work. I had a long sleep last night and feel clear-headed. It was good not to rush, not to have a deadline.
I've learnt up to "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse", then he's slain and then, thank God, he can't say another word. Before I go to bed I'll go through it all quickly. It feels like a first test. I'll have a drink.
MONDAY: The run-through didn't go as well as I'd have hoped. Gave up at two and went to bed - after a while you can't get the flow. Today we went through the scenes cementing the movement calmly and clinically until five. The choreography's there - but it's all that verbiage, the thees, thous, know'sts that separate the words and the movement. I've got two days left, but three or four more wouldn't go amiss. I'm looking for the moments which allow you to go further, deeper - it can happen quickly, it can take weeks.
I think my performance will probably be quite different from Simon's and quite different from mine if I'd had time to work on the stitching of it all together to make an O. I gather Simon's was very funny; mine's much darker, more bitter. Straining to find the humorous context is a bad idea. He can be ironic, childish, mad, farcical - and there are any number of ways to play the lines. Playing around will come later.
Tomorrow the frock comes on - there's no make-up because it's a studio theatre - and I'll look in the mirror to see what the image is - crippled inside and out. I'm still not hugely familiar with the play but I keep telling myself I've got till tomorrow evening. It's on a knife edge and if you lack confidence it's very bad for an audience - they can't follow the journey. I'm tired and more than a bit tense now. I need an early night so I'm clear in my head, then I'll just see how it comes. You might just find me down the local hostelry screaming for a gin and tonic.
TUESDAY: Dress rehearsal. No going back."
Richard III is at the Donmar Warehouse. Ciaran Hinds was talking to Georgina Brown.
WHO Magazine (Australia)
11 March 1996
By: Di Webster
Hot Stuff-Men of Manors
- Upper crust lust comes to the screen in three hot new adaptations of Jane Austen novels
. . . Unlike Firth, who describes _Pride and Prejudice as "a favorite book", Persuasion's steaming and smouldering Ciaran Hinds says he'd neither read nor was he interested in Austen before taking the role of Captain Wentworth, figuring the spinster author was ignorant about lust and longing. "I'd pigeon-holed her wrongly--sort of girlie books," says the 43-year-old son of a Belfast doctor. But once he got the hang of it, Hinds was taken with Wentworth's emotional turmoil, the result of being spurned by Anne Elliot (Played by Amanda Root). "It's amazing that Austen could sense this in men," says Hinds. "How she understands a man's heart and how delicate it can be sometimes is quite interesting."
Hinds' delicate heart has been for seven years been in the hands of actress Helene, the mother of his daughter, Aoife, 4. Though his CV lists TV roles (_Sherlock Holmes_, _Prime Suspect 3_) and such film credits as _Circle of Friends_ and the yet to be released _Mary Reilly_ with Julia Roberts, Hinds jokes he's now "touting for work". If screenwriter's keep adapting Austen ,the chisel-chinned Hinds should be up to his knee-breeches in offers.
18-24 January 1997
by Geoff Ellis
FIEND MEANS HINDS? Ciaran Hinds switches to playing a baddie in Ivanhoe Every adventure yarn needs its villain, a bad guy viewers can boo, and in Ciaran Hinds the makers of Ivanhoe found the perfect actor to play baddie Brian de Bois-Guilbert - despite the fact that his best known role was as a goodie, the clean-shaven naval officer in Persuasion. And yes, all that hair is his own.
“He’s a Norman, a Knight Templar who meets the Saxons and then has another life when he hitches up with the Jewess Rebecca,” says Irish-born Hinds, 40. “He’s a brutal man who is into the darkness rather than the light - but there is supposed to be some kind of redemption for him at the end.
“Bois-Guilbert is an arrogant warrior who believes he’s better than everybody. He was a fundamentalist crusader who started out killing for God and ended up killing for himself. Life was so cheap in those days.”
The great reckoning comes when Hinds’s character faces Ivanhoe (Steven Waddington) in a final fight scene filmed by the actors over two days. “At the end of each day I was shattered.”
And Hinds’s next costume drama is only just around the corner - he stars as the romantic hero Mr. Rochester in ITV’s adaptation of Jane Eyre in March. “Any period bar the present I’ll have a go at. The trouble with contemporary drama is that they have to put in all those dull sex scenes, and the story just stops - I’d rather get on with the plot - it is much more interesting.”
FEBRUARY 6, 1997
LOOK WHO'S TALKING
by Lisa Vanoli
Hinds means business
Since making the transition from stage to screen, Ciaran Hinds has enjoyed a run of high profile roles culminating with Brian de Bois-Guilbert in the BBC's adaptation of Ivanhoe. Ciaran Hinds has enjoyed an illustrious stage career and, more recently, a string of leading television roles, but he seems much more at home talking about the school-run than his glowing achievements.
Hinds can currently be seen in the BBC's adaptation of Ivanhoe as the despicable Brian de Bois-Guilbert. It is a role that could not be further from the true character of this softly spoken Irish actor who likes nothing more than to talk about his family. Having trained at RADA during the mid-seventies, Hinds worked predominantly on stage in Scotland and Ireland for a number of years. He has been a leading light in the Glasgow Citizens' Company for several seasons and toured the world in Peter Brook's Mahabharata. While working for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and Stratford he was spotted by a television casting director touting for new faces and that opened the door into the world of television.
"I was so involved in theatre I hadn't really looked into anything else,"admits Hinds, whose first major TV role was portraying Brian Keenan in Hostages. "It actually made the transition from theatre to television easier because the story was so huge and the character so complex.
In March, Hinds will be seen in a very different role. Far removed from the murderous exploits of his medieval Templar in Ivanhoe, he will appear as the romantic hero Mr. Rochester in LWT's remake of the classic Jane Eyre.
"It was not a role I had ever thought of doing before," he confesses. "Partly because it is a classically English role and I never thought I would be in the reckoning. But hopefully I get away with the accent!"
Hinds says it crossed his mind as strange that such a well-told story should be tackled again, especially as a television feature.
He says: "It is such a rich and dense story that for a one and three quarter hour film I felt it would be impossible to have the time to develop the relationships. But that said, it was too good a chance to turn down. I felt fortunate to have been offered the part in the first place, so I just faced up to the challenge."
Jane Eyre, which stars Samantha Morton in the title role, was shot over just five weeks, which meant making snap decisions on set, according to Hinds. "Choices had to be made quickly. There was little time for discussion or development of characters. So everything had to be done boldly and hopefully, not too melodramatically. Charlotte Bronte's novel contains a lot of passion but sometimes that doesn't translate well from the medium of literature. It can appear very overwhelming on television but I hope we have captured it well."
And the dashing actor admits he finds little pleasure in watching himself perform. "It can be awfully nervewracking seeing yourself on screen. You have to put your ego aside," he explains. "There are some people who never watch their own work but that can be difficult, expecially when you have to do press interviews!"
More recently, Hinds has been expanding his film career in Australia, alongside British actor Ralph Fiennes in a version of Oscar and Lucinda.
"The thing I love about the film industry is that you get more time and that is such a luxury. We filmed Jane Eyre and Ivanhoe at such a fast pace that it was indeed a luxury to have a bigger budget," he laughs.
But Hinds, who has appeared in features such as Circle of Friends and Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, is not tempted by the bright lights of Hollywood.
He says: "I really tend to prefer working in television as I am getting older. It is nice not having to work every night. It means I can put my little girl to bed and read her a bedtime story."
Hinds has a radio play in the pipeline, but nothing planned long term. "There is nothing I desperately want to do. I'll just wait and see what comes up."