Jamie Dornan, Eddie Redmayne and more
See Jamie Dornan (“Wild Mountain Thyme”) speak with Eddie Redmayne (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”); Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) with Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”) and Tom Holland (“Cherry”) in conversation with Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”).
Ramin Setoodeh: Have you ever wondered what goes into
an award-worthy performance?
Eddie Redmayne: I was trying to sell that line that was sort
of unsellable, and at some point, you've just
gotta try and fail.
Ramin: Variety Studio invites you to listen in as
today's biggest actors talk to each other about their craft.
Tom Holland: You just have to give it everything.
Don't hold back.
There's no such thing as doing too much.
Ramin: With Jamie Dornan and Eddie Redmayne, Vanessa Kirby
and Amanda Seyfried, and Tom Holland and Daniel Kaluuya.
Ramin: Welcome to "Variety Studio Actors on Actors."
I'm Ramin Setoodeh.
We're not in studio this season, but we still have a great lineup
for you with virtual conversations and lots
A decade ago, Jamie Dornan and Eddie Redmayne were roommates
in Los Angeles, auditioning for the same roles.
Now they're both movie stars.
In "Wild Mountain Thyme," Jamie Dornan plays an Irish bachelor
who's trying to process his romantic feelings
for his neighbor.
Jamie Dornan: You're not still from the night before?
Emily Blunt: I am.
Jamie: Oh, God in heaven. You look the worse for it.
Emily: Well, thanks much, you don't look perfect yourself.
Ramin: And in "The Trial of the Chicago 7," Eddie Redmayne
portrays anti-war activist Tom Hayden, and realized a lifelong
dream of working with Aaron Sorkin.
Eddie: Think of education, or poverty, or progress.
They're gonna think of a bunch of stoned, lost, disrespectful,
foul-mouthed, lawless losers.
Jamie: Eddie, hello. Eddie: Hello, James.
Jamie: Let's start by talking about "The Trial of the
Chicago 7," and your portrayal of Thomas Hayden.
I have to start by saying you are brilliant in it.
I remember talking to you when that role was coming about, when
you were nearly gonna do that movie and then it really
got pushed back.
You seemed very excited about it.
How was your experience making that movie?
Eddie: You know that Aaron Sorkin has always been someone
that I've sort of loved and whose work I've been kind of
mildly obsessed with, so it genuinely was one of those
moments when the script arrived that it sort of felt too good
to be true.
It was actually that slight hesitation actually, when you
kind of really love someone's work, you can't quite believe
that they've invited you to the party, and then there's the kind
of fear of what if it's the one shoddy one they do?
But it was brilliant, and it was a really riveting read, and I
found it extraordinary, because I found the read
so compelling and so quick.
I just found it had this extraordinary mixture of being
kind of thrilling, funny, and sort of deeply, deeply serious
at the same time.
But that which Aaron does is he kind of wears it all so lightly.
He writes characters, the speed of thought of whom is so quick.
Jamie: Let's take ourselves back a bit, ten years ago.
"The West Wing" was the only television show you'd ever
watched in your life, and you were just, like, obsessed with
it, but you admitted that it was the only thing
you'd ever watched.
So, it's such a lovely thing that that came around, that you
got to work with him, and also, like, you know, I think as
actors, so much of the movie reminded me of a lot of the sort
of courtroom dramas.
To get to do one that is in the hands of Aaron Sorkin, and to be
in one of those table-slamming courtroom dramas.
Eddie: Oh, I did actually slam the table.
I even slammed the door at one point.
I had an experience very early on filming when I didn't know
anything about film, and the script was a bit--well, it
wasn't a great script, and I think my acting was
also pretty shoddy,
but I remember watching the film and going, "Oh, I was trying
to sell that line that was sort of unsellable."
and I remember talking to an actor going, "No, no, quite
often you have to shift and change words to make it fit
into your mouth," and that was very different from theater,
obviously, where the word is kind of sacred.
And working with Aaron, before I worked with him, you
read all the stuff.
I remember listening to a podcast with Jessica Chastain
saying the difference between the dot, dot, dot, and the sort
of dot, dot, and the specificity is huge.
And I wondered how you found it with John Patrick Shanley?
Did you guys shift anything in the adaptation working with him,
obviously writing and directing "Wild Mountain Thyme?"
Jamie: No, I mean, I didn't read the play and I spoke to
Shanley about that before we started shooting.
And I said should I, you know, make myself, you know, very in
tune with what you did with the play, with "Outside Mullingar,"
what the play was called?
And he was like, no, no, and I was like okay.
You know, he saw this as a separate thing, you know.
It lived it its own world, and you know, it's not a play, you
know, I haven't really done a play, but that feels like
the closest thing I have done to date.
Many of the scenes very much felt like theater, particularly
the 20-minute scene that Emily and I have, and I think for that
scene particularly, because it was so long, we're
going through so much.
We're going basically through the entire history of this very
complicated relationship between these two people, and it's all
coming out in that 20-minute scene.
And the physicality of it, Emily as Rosemary, moved towards
myself as Anthony.
I just recoiled, I just did it naturally, because that's
because that's the energy that we'd created
and felt right for them.
Eddie: I'd love to ask basically about working
with Emily Blunt.
Jamie: Well, it's funny because, you know, in my head
I did know Emily a wee bit, but she doesn't remember really
meeting me ever, which is really embarrassing.
Obviously, Felicity Blunt, her sister, and my wife, Millie,
are, you know, like, very, very, very close friends,
so I'd met Emily.
I met her at, like, the Governor's Awards Ball, like
a couple of years ago, but she doesn't really remember.
And then, you know, at a couple of other things I've run into
her, so actually when we knew we were both doing this, you know,
odd little film together, Emily sort of said to Fee, like, we've
gotta arrange a dinner, because I don't really know Jamie, and
Fee was like, "You've met Jamie," and she was like,
I don't really remember meeting him."
And Emily is just the easiest person to be around
and get on with, you know.
It makes it so easy.
It was very instant, like, sort of chemistry and appreciation
of each other, respect and ease with each other.
So much of that movie and that relationship hinges on the
two of us having something that works, you know?
That was honestly three of the best days I've ever had at work.
Like, it was just, you know, when you're given the
opportunity to speak words that kind of--A, it makes your job so
much easier, you know, and it's a joy, it's a treat, and you
know you can have fun with it and go to work and have fun
with these words.
And the old stress of how am I gonna make this work
goes out the window.
It's just so fun to play with those words like that, and Emily
was on the exact same page, you know.
It was a joy.
Jamie: But I wanna talk about, like, the plethora of
unbelievable actors that you're in that courtroom with every
day, and how daunting that is, you know.
And I'm sitting here talking about working with Emily Blunt
and Christopher Walken, and actually it was a joy for me,
because they were all just really relaxed, and was that
the same situation that you had?
Eddie: Yeah, a great treat of it for us was because a lot of
the film is set in the courtroom, all of the actors
were there, and what's kind of wonderful is in relation to what
you're saying about Tom Hayden, particularly during the trial,
a lot of it is him having to repress his frustrations with
the choices made by Jerry Reuben, Abbie Hoffman, and we
didn't have time for closeups generally, so everything was
wider, so you had that wonderful thing where you never know
what's being caught, you're just kind of reacting.
But the people that you're reacting to are sort of
heavyweights, and all with completely different processes.
So, I do find it riveting watching other actors.
And you have this kind of complete, extraordinary variety
of Sacha's, kind of his improvisational place, you know,
and Jeremy Strong's, his research was so thorough, to
Michael Keaton who came in for day, or Frank Langella.
Watching Frank kind of play off against Mark Rylance, or Yahya,
and it was a master class, really, but it was also that
thing of a master class in watching how people
behave on set.
Like how they're living their lives, how they--what choices
they make come all around the film.
So, I found that sort of endlessly compelling, really.
Ramin: Vanessa Kirby and Amanda Seyfried step out of
their comfort zones in two critically-acclaimed dramas.
In "Pieces of a Woman," Vanessa Kirby stars as a mother dealing
with the grief over the death of her newborn.
female: We need some justice here.
Vanessa Kirby: No, you need, that is what you want, that is
what you need.
That is your way, that is not my way.
Ramin: Amanda Seyfried reaches a new peak in her career
with "Mank," playing actress Marion Davies in a
black-and-white drama about the making of "Citizen Kane."
male: How do you have the money?
Amanda Seyfried: Well, as they say in the Bronx,
"Make yourself to home, Mr. Mankowitz," or shall I
call you Herman?
male: No, please, call me Mank.
Amanda: How long was it between when you read
"Pieces of a Woman," like, when you read the script, signing on,
and then getting onto set?
Vanessa: It was actually weirdly quick.
It was so weird.
It was one of those things that just almost-usually you're like,
this is gonna take ages to find out, especially this nature
of film and what it's about, and I was, like, dying to do
something that actually really required, like, a lot.
And they sent me the script, and I read it in an hour,
and straightaway I was like, "Oh, I just love it."
And then that was maybe August, September, and so we started
shooting, we rehearsed a little bit in October, and we started
end of November.
So, it was actually really quick.
So, what about you? Did you just get the phone call?
Amanda: No, it was one of those phone calls that was,
like, David Fincher is going to be doing this movie called
"Mank" about Herman Mankowitz.
Okay, I don't know Herman Mankowitz, that's exciting.
What's it about?
It's, you know, a black-and-white movie, it's his
next movie, he's, you know, set it up with Netflix, and I'm
like, "Okay, what about it?"
Well, he's considering you.
Vanessa: So, where you nervous about working with him?
Amanda: It was a dream come true, actually.
Like, I felt so much more comfortable than
I ever thought I would.
Yes, he does a lot of takes and all that, and it definitely
helps, I mean, he does get brilliant performances
out of people because he gives them time and space.
With him, you know, you're doing a scene for a week when you have
a huge set, and a lot of actors, and a lot of dialogue.
There's always a point at which, when the camera's on me, where I
feel like I've found the moments that I wanted to find,
and then I feel really comfortable.
But, like, did you guys-I have so many questions.
Vanessa: [laughing] Oh, no.
Amanda: Did you do multiple takes, or did you feel
like you were just?
Vanessa: God, I can't remember, actually.
It was a really, you know, it was low-budget.
Amanda: There was, like, preparation happening.
Vanessa: Yes, yes, okay, so for example, like the birth,
we knew that we only had two days to maybe try
and remotely even get it right.
Amanda: So, you had two days to shoot, like, a 30-minute
continuous take of a birth, and you nailed it?
You nailed it.
And how, I wanna know how.
Vanessa: I think mainly just massive amounts of fear.
Because I don't know, when I read it, I was like, I realized
that we see so many deaths on screen, and we so rarely see
a full birth, and that's so weird.
I guess maybe because, you know, we haven't had as many female
writers, and here was Kata talking about her experience
and her personal loss, as well as, you know,
having given birth herself.
And so, that felt really important, and not knowing how
to do it I think meant that I had to basically do everything
that I could to try and understand what it's like to do.
And so, then I start watching every documentary
I could possibly find.
And when I finished hours of watching them, I was no
further equipped to act it.
So, I started writing to lots of obstetricans and there was one,
this amazing woman called Claire Melon, who said, "Look, just
come and shadow me and the midwives on the labor ward."
And so, I spent many days learning and sort of felt
a little bit better, but then it was just one afternoon, it was
my last afternoon in the labor ward, and a woman came in,
and she was nine centimeters dilated, and one of the midwives
said, "I'm gonna go and ask her if she'd mind you being there."
And I thought there was just no way.
Why the hell would she want me there, in a room, in her most,
like, sacred moment?
But she said yes, which was a complete miracle.
And so, I sat in my scrubs, like, next to her, and just
watched her for eight hours go on this, like, amazing trip.
It just blew my mind.
And so, did you do loads of, like, Marion Davies research?
Amanda: First of all, like, thank God for the script.
I'm getting a lot from the writing, of course, and that's
where you start usually, if it's that good and that clear, you
know, what the story is and what that person means to the story.
And then I just had to watch a lot of her movies just to feel
her, to feel like I'm in the room with her a little more.
Because I didn't really know much about--I knew of her,
I knew her name.
And so, there was an autobiography that is hilarious,
taken from memories.
She had been interviewed much later in life, about a decade
before she died, and it was just her recalling her life,
which is amazing.
She clearly had a good time.
And then there's a biography written by somebody else, and
you know, you collect all these things, as much as you can find,
and then you're like, we'll let's pull the essence
out of it, right?
Vanessa: And so, about Gary, how was it to work with him?
Because you've worked with him before, right?
Amanda: Yeah, Gary Oldman is just as present
as anybody can be.
Gary is as funny, I think, as Herman Mankowitz, and we relate,
myself, Amanda and Gary, relate to each other very similarly
to the Mank and Marion relationship,
so that was so easy.
Vanessa: I could feel that. I could feel that chemistry.
It felt so real between you guys.
Amanda: How did you feel when you wrapped it?
Like, did it take a while for you to, you know,
be done with her?
Like, what was that like?
Vanessa: I think I had a lot of the feelings of the movie
that I just sort of stayed in for a couple of months.
And I just had to let them leave, and that was really tough
to sort of sit with them.
And yeah, it took a few months, actually.
I felt this kind of real heaviness.
Amanda: Like, how did you prepare to, like, experience
that level of grief?
Vanessa: I knew that I had to speak to women
who had been through this.
And it really quickly became about them, in a way.
The whole movie was always about them for me, really.
Because them telling their stories about their babies that
they had lost in many different stages was really hard for them.
Because it's really hard to talk about in society.
And it took a really long time for me to really felt like I got
it, you know, I understood.
And really, I owe it all to them, because--and it felt like
a weird honor to do it, because I felt so changed by the end of
it, for feeling even a little bit closer to understanding what
that experience in their life has been like.
You know, we all go through stages in life when our reality
as we know it just completely changes, or falls apart, or
everything's different, and it will never be the same again.
And, you know, in those moments, and it's usually around loss,
but I mean anything that we go through hard as a human, I guess
the resilience of Martha and the way that she gets through it day
after day, you know, and that she does it in her way.
And everyone else wants her and needs her to be different
in order to make their grief okay.
And it was a massive privilege for me to witness other people's
pain and grief, yeah.
Ramin: Tom Holland and Daniel Daniel Kaluuya are both actors
in Disney's "Avengers" franchise who are pushing their careers
in exciting new directions.
In "Cherry," Tom Holland plays a war veteran who spirals
out of control when he returns home.
female: You're gonna make it through this, okay?
I know you're gonna make it through, hello?
Tom: Yeah, baby, I'm here.
Ramin: In "Judas and the Black Messiah,"
Daniel Daniel Kaluuya
plays 1960s Civil Rights leader Fred Hampton.
Daniel Kaluuya: I am a revolutionary.
I am a revolutionary, I am.
Daniel: I love the film.
Tom: Thank you, likewise.
Daniel: I can see a lot of work went into it,
and so how did "Cherry" arrive to you?
Because I heard it as an article, but it's a book, right?
Tom: Yeah, it's a book written by a guy called
Nico Walker, but it was only brought to my attention, I was
doing ADR for I think it was "Avengers End Game," with
the Russo's and at the end of the session, they sort of took
me aside and said, "Look, we wanna make this movie.
It's about this kid who's suffering from PTSD and falls
into drug addiction and ends up robbing banks
to feed his addiction.
Would you be interested?"
And, I mean, obviously, like, I'm sure you'd say the same,
I would do anything with the Russo's.
I mean, they could direct anything and I wouldn't need
to read it, I would sign up just because I love them so much
and respect them so much.
But for you though, so "Judas and the Black Messiah,"
like, when did that come to your lap?
Like, how did you find out about that?
What about the script?
I mean, obviously the subject matter and the story
of Fred Hampton is incredible.
Daniel: I got approached during the Marvel film.
I was doing the re-shoots for "Black Panther," and then
Ryan Kugler who was directing it and produced "Judas and the
Black Messiah," he pulled me to the side with Lindsay Kugler,
who also produced "Judas and the Black Messiah," and was like,
"Oh, we're making a Fred Hampton film, and we'd really love you
to play Fred Hampton, you up to it?"
And I was like, "Oh, wow," I mean, in that sense
it was just like an honor.
And they said LaKeith's playing William O'Neal and Shaka King is
directing it, LaKeith Stanfield, and they sent me
a two-page treatment.
They sent me a two-page treatment, and it was one
of the best treatments I've ever seen.
And then, like, because it was just clear the way it was.
Then I sat down with Shaka, Shaka King, the director
in New York, because I was still promoting Gal,
and I just really respected him as a person.
I loved him as a person, and I loved his reasons why
he was telling the story.
Tom: I tell you what.
One thing that you absolutely nailed, which, like,
I couldn't believe.
I was watching the film, and then it froze, something with
the link broke, so I was like, "I'm gonna go and watch one
of his speeches to see what he was like in real life," and man,
I could not believe how much you sounded like him.
But how did you deal with finding the balance between
imitating something that people can readily see and is
available, and also bring your own sort of creative spin
to a character and a story?
Daniel: It was just a process that we kind of, like, played
around with certain different cadences and sounded exactly
like him, sounded, like, really pinpoint sounded like
was a bit odd.
It didn't sound like I--it didn't sit in me like it sat in
Chairman Fred, because we're different people.
And so, you have to go, "Oh, this is"--it has to be about
your belief and the interpretation.
Your believe and the interpretation.
This is what I feel.
And for me, it was kind of like watching his videos and watching
his stuff, and taking in how he was moving me, and going, "Well,
how can I move someone the way he's moving me at this time?"
You know, and I was replicating that energy and that spirit,
and it was a really amazing exploration moment.
It's kind of like you just have to do it.
Tom: Yeah, I was quite lucky in the sense that Nico Walker,
the character that I'm playing, not many people know much about
him, and his book is kind of a loose, fictitious version
of what actually happened to him.
So, we kind of had creative freedom to do whatever
we wanted, which was really freeing for me.
But I can imagine for something like what you were doing,
I would particularly find it very daunting, but you did
amazing, mate, you absolutely did.
Daniel: It's daunting, but you have to just get on with it.
So, like, so the book, so right, cool, that's fascinating
about this book.
So, how much did you lean on it, or did you just not?
Did you use it as a reference? Did you ignore it?
How much prep time did you have in terms of--and what
research did you do about addiction and PTSD?
Tom: Yeah, so much of the book is in the script.
The Russo brothers's sister, Angela, wrote the script,
and so much of the voiceover is taken from the book.
That kind of, like, it's kind of weird slam poetry way of
speaking, so I had so many references already on the page.
I mean, I didn't dwell on the book that much, because the
script was so specific as to what they wanted, and I just
wanted to focus on that.
There was already so much to try and do.
But as far as research goes, we went to the VA in Cleveland, and
we must have interviewed, like, 30 different veterans who were
all dealing with substance abuse, all dealing with PTSD.
But how about you though?
So, did you find, especially with, like, the current climate
in which we're in now, like, politically, about, like race
and all that sort of stuff, like, telling the story of a
real-life character like this must be really quite heavy.
So, how did you deal with that pressure of making sure you did
justice to him, and educated people, and also told a
compelling story where people could learn and grow from it?
Daniel: There's a fine balance to go for.
It was a lot of pressure.
It was a lot of pressure, and I think the only moments where I
kind of let it go is when I realized it's bigger than me.
Whatever reason, I don't know why I've been picked at this
time, and this story is being made at this time,
but this is coming through me and it's honoring that.
And when I operated on that, operated on service, then I was
able to actually just let go and just be in it,
do you know what I'm saying?
And just kind of, like, sit in it, and like, going, "What's he
trying to"--because then there's a whole point when you have them
as a figure, as a man, as an icon, and as a leader in
the community in Chicago, but then there's a point where you
have to see him as a character.
But can I ask a question?
And this is like, I don't know if you've heard this question
before, but maybe you have.
But I was like, when I found out you're dad's a legend, yeah?
So, your dad's a legend.
Tom: My dad, yeah.
Daniel: Growing up, he was a legend.
Because I know your dad's a comedian, a really amazing
comedian in England.
Did you feel like you chose this?
Was it as a response to what he was doing,
or did you feel it was your choice, or did you?
Tom: It's interesting, because obviously growing up as
kids, we were kept very separate from my dad's career, because,
like, comedy happens at night, and we were kids, and we
couldn't go to see him, because we weren't old enough.
And then, obviously, as we turned 18, we would go and see
him, and be a larger part of his career.
One thing I love about my dad being a comic, and me being an
actor, is being a comic is so much harder than
doing what we do.
Like, you get something wrong on set, you just do it again.
But you tell a joke on stage in front of a thousand people
that no one finds funny, it must be the most horrifying thing.
I honestly can't imagine anything worse.
But he's been a great role model for me, my dad,
and he's been there for me.
But I'll tell him that you said that.
He'll be so gassed that you said that.
Daniel: Oh yeah, he's a legend, bro.
I remember growing up watching him and going, "Oh, he's funny."
I used to like, remember that.
And then when you came out, I was like, "Hold on,
he looks familiar, but I don't know why he looks familiar."
Tom: Oh, man, that's so funny.
So, "Get Out," you obviously got nominated for that, right?
So, that must have just, like, blown your mind.
What was that like?
Daniel: Mental, bro, it was surreal, man.
It was surreal, because it was just like that morning, like,
getting all those calls and texts,
and saying I got nominated.
I remember I was in bed.
Tom: What did you do to celebrate?
You must have celebrated, no?
Daniel: I was just hyped.
Like, it wasn't like I was trying to pretend, I was like,
no, I got nominated for an Oscar, this is wild, bro.
And it's like, yeah, it's a surreal thing.
I went out. I jumped a lot for no reason.
I just ran for no reason.
Ramin: We hope you've enjoyed our look inside the world of
"Actors on Actors."
Please join us again next time.
Vanessa: Any better?
Amanda: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Vanessa: Okay, yeah, yeah.
Better, better, better.
Where were we? Where were we?
Tom: Alright, so watch this.
It's about to be super convincing.
So, "Get Out," you obviously got nominated for that, right?
So that must have just, like, blown your mind.
What was that like?
Eddie: Bye, mate, bye, dude.
Jamie: Bye, man, thank you.
Do we have to send selfies or something?
Is that a real thing?
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