This weekend you have the opportunity to see one of the most honest and endearing love stories of the year, Adam, starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne. Dancy gives an award-winning performance as the character of Adam, in a story about a man with Asperges who falls in love with the girl next door (Byrne). The film is humorous and intelligent, and not to be missed.
Not long ago we got to sit down with Dancy and talk to him about his amazing performance (Adam review). He is quite possibly one of the most charming and well spoken actors to interview.
Check out the interview below…
Well, first of all I’m going to say the O-word for you–Oscar. I thought it was an incredible performance and you really were convincing, I mean, where you familiar with Asperges?
HD: I actually was not– I mean, familiar– I wasn’t even on familiar with it, I was ignorant, you know, I was intrigued by the structure of the script and the clear intelligence and good writing in it, but as– I could say it was good framework, but all the other stuff I had to start from scratch, and it was a steep learning cove, because I didn’t have a great deal of time. What can I say… thanks for your kind words.
Adam seems to be rather removed from the real world, how were you able to connect with him, between the good guy and the guy who doesn’t seem to get everyday thing?
HD: I came to love the character a lot. I was determined, not just to play the pat — the beautiful thing about the script, I think, the first thing that struck me was that he waits– Max waited 30, 40 pages before having Adam say that that’s the condition that he has and I wanted to kind of do justice to that intelligence.
One of the biggest things in acting is being able to look at the other person and react, and of the things that I loved is that your eye contact was always slightly off. Is that something that was very difficult for you in scenes where you had to be reacting?
HD: It was, initially it was difficult, because actually what he is doing is listening in a very pure way, he’s just hearing the words. He’s not always hearing them the way they’re intended, but he’s very present– it’s a strange combination and it took me a while to arrive it there. Initially, I remember, day one or two, I remember Max coming up and very sweetly and saying, “You look a little but like you’re playing a blind person,” and all that is the being precise with that kind of back and forth non-focused eye movement and just getting it right. Sounds like– it was not a great moment, but it was actually very helpful kind of loving note.
Can you actually describe what the what the preparation process was because I heard that you had one day to rehearse and 20 days to shoot…
HD: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and actually that day at rehearsal was useful for a couple of scenes, I suppose, but I think it was a good thing that we didn’t have a great deal of time together because the experience wasn’t about us getting on to the same page and it was the opposite of that, it was really putting a few pages between us. So most of the work I did was sort of on my own or with Max or eventually, when I got comfortable enough with people who helped me, people who worked with Asperges or people who have Asperges themselves. You know, first of all there’s a huge amount of information that you have to process and you have to absorb and while doing that trying to figure out what of that information is going to be useful and what is going to be a hindrance. For example an enormous amount of controversy about why people get disorders is fascinating, but it was not my concern, and then you’re looking for things beyond the dater that will grab your imagination and will take you back to the script and layer it and layer it and layer it.
And how much actual time did you have?
HD: Max claims that I had a month– I remember it as being longer than that, but I think that was because I was, immersed.
Where you overwhelmed by it? Particularly you had to do an American accent, you know, as well as having the Asperges–aspect of it, and was there anybody that you met that you based any of of your characteristics on?
HD: Was I overwhelmed? I suppose by definition, overwhelmed means that you kind of, you give up. I wouldn’t say I felt like that all the time. After Max offered me the part, I went away, eventually came back to him with a bunch of spurious questions about the script, which he dealt with in about four minutes and we sat there, you know, “What are we going to talk about now?” And basically I had to be honest and said the reason I wanted to see him was just to say, “Help! Hey if we do this, you’ve really got to help me, and kind of protect me in a way,” which is stupid because that’s of course what he would do, but it’s somehow, I guess I needed to say, needed to know that it was being heard and it was. And he’s– I couldn’t have asked for a better support in that way, but you know the sense of the challenge– that’s kind of sometimes frightening is in another way that I was putting it that I was aware of the richness of the script and that I knew all the different things I would have to do to get it right and so, I also knew how many different ways I could screw everything up.
Is this the hardest thing you ever had to play? Is it the furthest you’ve every had to go away from yourself?
HD: Yes, I think it probably is because it’s not just a question of different life experience or a different era or something. This guy as well as having a very different life than me, really has different wiring and there was a sense in which I felt like I could just about make u that little bit of distance, but it was a constant effort to get myself there, a constant act of reminding myself. It was never just going to slip into fifth gear and come naturally to me because you’re asking for a new brain. But it was a fascinating challenge and it was something eccentrically paradoxical about trying to empathize your way into the mind of somebody you can’t empathize, and I felt like the whole process felt like trying to understand a paradox, you know.
We all have handicaps that we have to deal with, whether it’s being emotional or physical, and we learn little tricks to get us through life and to. You did a great job with your character and what he has to cope with. What about you personally? What would be your handicap and what little tricks have you learned?
HD: Oh god, I don’t know.
HD: That makes it even harder (laugh). I was talking to a friend about this the other day– the way that some people carry a sense of themselves which physically there’s no reaction to what they actually look like, you know, you meet really attractive people saying they don’t feel attractive and so long. I was speaking to my friend and we both said, “Oh yeah, well I’m quite a shy person,” and he looks at me and says, “What the hell are you talking about, you’re not shy at all,” you know, and I told him, “Well neither are you.” I mean, he’s one of the most outgoing people I know — those are things that you carry over with you from a totally inaccurate sense of self from usually from when you’re an adolescent and you’re painfully self-conscious. I suppose that’s just another way of saying, none of us know the gulf between who we are and who we think we are, you hope that it’s narrowing, but it may be getting wider.
Your quote was very interesting, you’re a handsome young man, you’re up on the screen larger than life. Do you not think you’re handsome?
HD: You know, I don’t– I think you become very aware of things– in this business for 10 years– of the way you’re perceived physically, it’s a factor from the minute you want to get into the business, so to speak, like it or not their it is — it’s not a subject I find particularly rewarding or comfortable, but to sit there and say, “No, I’m cursed physically,” would be silly, but I don’t think that’s my problem, I’m just not self-conscious in that way– either one way or the other, I’d like to think.
If this role put you in the spotlight with Asperges are you prepared to be a spokes person in that area because I think it’s going to be strong enough to do that.
HD: Yes, in a word I feel simultaneously quite well to talk about it and you know if an actor is going to espouse some kind of cause they really need to know what the fuck they’re talking about. On the other hand I have never walked in the shoes of, really, somebody with Asperges, and certainly not the people, you know, whose children have Asperges and have to work so so hard, but yeah, wearily. It’s a fascinating and rewarding and relatively misunderstood. I just mean people don’t know enough about it and I’ll be very happy that this movie maybe brings the opportunity to talk about it and open peoples eyes to it. It’s clearly not why I set out to make the film and I think if you carry that kind of thought too heavily in your mind, you know, “this is an important story,” you kind of loose track of the goal and forget ultimately your first priority has to be to tell the story and to entertain, very simply.
Well going off of that, the way I saw it wasn’t so much that it was a story about a disability, I mean, no offense, you’re a man, and it’s sometimes difficult to communicate period. The two things of the day have been how you perceive yourself and the fact that men and women can’t communicate.
HD: Yeah and you know, not just men and women, you should see two men together–
Well at any point because for me I walked out, I was saying to other people, “I’ve dated you,” I mean not you–
I don’t think you should go around spreading that (laughs). Another friend of mine said, “seriously thinking that somebody wants to sleep with me because I want to sleep with them, that means I have Asperges.” (laughs)
I just mean that it’s a very beautiful romance and–
I completely agree with you. If I’m describing this movie I start out by saying it’s about two young people in New York who kind of fall into each others lives and they to make a connection and then it complex to you is the Asperges, but it’s not the starting point for me. Like I said that’s why I liked the script so much in the first seating– the entry point.
Do you personally like how the movie ended?
HD: Well, you know, I mean, Max was saying this last night there’s a kind of, it’s like a rorsach test, if you ask an audience, who thinks they’re going to get back together, you get a 50/50 response, without wanting to give it away, people who haven’t seen it, you know, I would have been really disappointed by any ending kind of generally speaking that had suddenly attempted to tie everything up, or you know, worse than that suggest that somehow he was “cured,” all that solved for sure is the character, or her for that matter, so yeah I was very happy with the ending. I would have been horrified if I got to page like 119 and there was marriage.
My favorite line in the movie is, “Being loved is great, but loving is the most important thing.” Do you agree?
HD: Yes, I think I do. I don’t know that I would– I think, I don’t know that one is entirely possible without the other, I think sometimes people kind of lazily semi- fall in love with somebody because that other person loves them and it’s kind of convenient, but yeah, I’m fortunate, I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with somebody who hasn’t fallen in love with me, you know, and I actually think it’s quite rare that that happens in a true way, but you know, yeah I agree with the line.
Was it hard for you to drop this character, when you finished the movie and move on?
HD: You know, it’s funny, it was Christmas, we finished like December 22, or something, and immediately left from New York, obviously, and I left from New York and went back to Europe to spend Christmas with my family and I think that actually prevented me from going into kind of going cold turkey. It was quite a strong intense experience, not just the character, but working with these people and working hard, and the other thing that helped was that the ending to the movie, actually we re-shot the ending subsequently and expanded it a bit, but it was the same ending essentially– the end of the movie we hadn’t yet shot, and we shot it in January the following year, in LA, so I had that kind of– I had dessert to come, you know, it was really a very nice way to make a movie. If I got to that every time I’ve very happy.
What would you say, you admired most from the character?
HD: His bravery, I think. I was going to say his honesty– I think the honesty is involuntary on his part, which almost makes it hard to admire per-say, but I mean, I guess we all like to think we were more honest, could be more honest. But his honesty is incredibly difficult and it’s what makes his life so hard and I think his persistence, his kind of– okay I’ve been knocked, get up and carry on , and again and again and again– although sometimes he doesn’t know that the example of Beth really is not interested in seeing him, but his kind of bravery must have been a really bloody hard life, I found quite conspiring, but of course, you don’t think lie that, you know what I mean.
Check out the movie in theaters now.