Set Visit: Thor Interview with Colm Feore
And I don't know if this is just Feore's way of talking or if it's because he was in full and rather terrifying Frost Giant costume... but the man's quite animated. Charmingly so. As much as he talked, I know I could probably listen to him for hours more.
Did you know what you were getting yourself into with this make-up?
I didnít really, until they came to my house and they said, ĎWell we have to do an impression of your feet, your hands, your teeth, your head... well, pretty much everything. And then could you strike a sort of heroic pose, because weíre gonna take some digital photographs, and then theyíre gonna copy this and make something.í And I said, ĎWell, okay.' Out of sight, out of mind, you know, I really didnít think about it. And then I showed up, went to Legacy, and they had pictures of me, the design, this, next to half-naked pictures of Iggy Pop. Now, without telling you too much about myself, half-naked, me and Iggy Pop look a lot alike. Iím not gonna tell you which half, but as you can see, Iím not wearing a lot of clothes.
So I said, ĎIs this what itís gonna be?í And they said, ĎYeah, this is how it works.í This outfit, this costume, is remarkable for a lot of reasons, not least of which is that itís about 17 different pieces. The only thing thatís real, thatís me, is from here to here. Everything else, and I mean everything, top to bottom, everything is fake. And itís laid on in four and a half hours by this genius, Ve Neill, a three-time Oscar winner for make-up, who sculpted and designed all this. And it comes in these variety of pieces, and they just put each one on and glue me into it, paint me blue, and stitch me up, and then wheel me out. Itís remarkable, and takes forever, and slightly longer to get off. Iíve been doing a lot of work recently and trying to apologize to people for the blue eyeliner and the blue fingernails and the blue everything, and I finally just gave up. I just said, ĎYou know, Iím in here every day shopping, yes, I am a stripper and I work nights, okay? So if you donít mind, give me the wine, give me the bread, and Iím leaving.í Itís a little madness, but I kind of enjoy it, because it gives me a good four and a half hours in the morning, when no one else is here, to get into what the characterís gonna be. I start to assume the physicality and all this stuff that Ken Branagh and I have talked about in terms of where this character sits and how heís involved and, you know, four and a half hours later, this appears. From inside, it feels different to me than it looks to you, but it actually works, as far as Iím concerned. I think itís pretty scary, and the voice is dropped. It really is. Clint in outer space. ĎGet off my lawn.' Itís gonna be fun because you donít expect sensitivity, humanity, humor, heart-break from this kind of guy, but the way Ken directs, we managed to get all of that. So, itís been a wonderful synthesis of machinery, artistry and just good ol' craft.
What can you see through those lenses?
Well, if youíre not a man with glasses standing in front of me with a tape recorder going like this, then I canít see anything. But if you are, then I see perfectly well.
How does this restrict your movement? Can you hear?
No, this is the Nureyev of suits, this thing, it moves perfectly with me. Itís glued to me. I am stuck in it in ways that are really unimaginable and indescribable.
How do you go to the bathroom in that?
You donít. Please donít print this [George's Note: Sorry, Colm!] but I lost four nails already looking for my penis. [laughter] And they told me, 'Youíre not to do that again.' I suppose, four and a half hours in, ten hours shooting, an hour and a half out, somethingís gotta give because it comes, Iíll tell you guys, please donít tell anybody else, it comes in two pieces. So, we get into the first piece then, layer, layer, layer, do all of this. Then we jump into the trousers, then Iím zip-tied into this bottom piece, and glued into the feet so you canít get out. There is a zipper somewhere but itíll cost you money to find out where. And they actually make it functional, itís pretty ridiculous, so I plan ahead.
Are you a frost giant?
ďAĒ frost giant? I am the king of frost giants. And if youíve seen any of the frost giants, you know that I am of course the Napoleon of frost giants. Weíve got some massive, fabulous guys who dwarf me and they come in at around eight and a half feet, nine feet. But no, canít you tell by the commanding presence? Iím the boss. The music will be big, when I show up thereíll be a big storm, thereíll be wind. Itís worked out beautifully. Itís very articulated and articulatable. The face moves with me, I have every range of expression. And, I donít know if youíve had a chance to talk to Ken at all, but heís brilliant. Heís brilliant for a lot of reasons, not least of all because heís been an actor his whole life. So he knows how to tighten the narrative, and what he would do as an actor, so he can get inside and say three helpful words. You know, on a very tight schedule and an expensive schedule, heíll just get right to the heart of the point. But heís also looking for most of it, here, right? Itís gotta be in the eyes. If they donít work, weíve got nothing. So it had to be expressive.
This seems like a totally new experience for you.
Well, you know, this is not my first time with special effects make-up. I did a Stephen King thing years ago, ďStorm of the CenturyĒ, which was just wacky. I did a bunch ofÖ and the technology was much more primitive and it was six hours in the chair doing all that kind of stuff. Iíve done rigorous appliquť make-up. Is it different from what I usually do? Iíve done CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK which is space, sort of sci-fi, a little sort of cartoony. I do everything. I just finished playing 'Macbeth' and 'Cyrano De Bergerac' in repertoire in the theater, and then came straight here to do this. They all feel, interestingly enough, as if they cross-pollinate. Because everything that Iíve done in the theater, Branagh is using. Itís me and Hopkins and Ken standing around talking about, 'well, this is sort of like Lear', and weíre using a short-hand for how to communicate effectively and immediately out here when itís costing somebody serious money. So, to me, it isnít a big departure. Itís just another job for which I hope Iíll get paid. As far as Iím concerned, if the check doesnít bounce itís a hit. I go home.
Are you able to walk around outside?
You know what? I have seenÖ did you all come in this back hallway? And you saw me in that chair? Thatís as far as I got to the outside world. I have a dressing room three doors down and it has a big, dark curtain in it. Thatís all Iíve seen for the four months that Iíve been shooting. Iíve never been, you know. I went to craft service today, I got a coffee outside because I did my electronic press kit interview at 6:45 this morning and I was allowed to walk in my street clothes to get coffee. I have never been seen outside, Iíve never seen outside. A lot of smart people have spent a lot of time thinking about the look, the design, the acting, the script and we refine this as best we can but weíre still working on it day by day by day. Weíre refining it, we get new script pages, new ideas are coming. We donít want anybody to come off half-cocked and make a decision about what weíre only in the middle of doing. So if there are shots of me out there and somebodyís gonna say, 'oh, thatís not the right way, thatís not this and that', it has to be seen in context. And in the context of as they say, confident, a lot of smart people have given it a lot of thought. So, no I donít get outside and Iím actually okay with that. And I think itís kind of fun. And when anybody asks me, they were asking me in Customs the other day coming in - I live in Canada - and they say, 'what are you doing?' and I say ĎThorí. 'Whatís it about?' 'Canít tell you.' You know, give it a hammer, itís big, what do you play? Ooooh, thatís gonna cost you, and you know, Iím trying to get into the country and I have to be nice. I love everything you do, Iíll buy you a ticket, I said, good, May 6, 2011, 7:30. Be there.
Could you talk about the research you did when you found out you were entering this universe. Did you read the books?
Yeah. I looked a lot at the comics and I tried to get an idea from that, not necessarily specific, just what my look would be, or what the plan would be because I knew the script was evolving. And I then started the discussion with Ken who had been in discussion with you guys, intimately, and then they pared it down. So, I didnít want to spend too much time going all over the map on this. So I thought, okay, what do you really want? And he said, if youíre very, very good, Iíll send you a secret link to a secret site and you can have a secret look at a tedious little picture which will melt the moment you click okay, and itíll melt with your initials on it so youíre doomed if it goes anywhere else. And I said, okay, let me see that and then I want you to tell me what youíd like it to sound like.
So, now Iíve got the look that weíre talking about and Iíve got Kenís idea of what it might sound like. He marries... we started talking about different ideas, we joked about it. I said to him you know, Ken, youíve really screwed me here. You cast Tony Hopkins. And I appreciate that itís great for the movie, but I was gonna play it like Tony Hopkins. [laughter] I was! I did a movie for Julie Taymor with him ten years ago called TITUS. A big Shakespeare thing with Jessica Lange and I was asked to play his little brother, and they said well, the thing about playing his little brother, you might have to act a little bit like Tony Hopkins. And forgive my teeth but I can actually act a bit like Tony Hopkins. I can sound like Tony Hopkins, I can actually do the whole thing. I can do it, and I go, ĎKen, Iíll give you Tony Hopkins only, as you say, much cheaper.í [laughter] But weíve got him cast. I said, shoot me first and then Tony will have to think of something else to do. And heís an actor, he can be stretched out, but for me itís a huge leap forward, you see, a poor manís Tony Hopkins, oh, thatís great. But then he showed up and we were there on the set and I didnít have the heart to take his characterization, his personality away from him. So I said, what if I do an homage to Tony Hopkins with a whisper of Max Von Sydow filtered through Paul Scofield... and you know Ken went, ĎYeah, thatís about it.í And thereís a little something else and we kept it just in the mix as we went. And it actually worked out beautifully. So we started to assemble a pallet of colors and sounds. And I said okay, I will confine my research now to just what weíre gonna be doing and Ken is so specific and so on time.
Last December, maybe even late November he said, ĎIím gonna be shooting a close-up of you on the first day of the first roll of film and itíll be very important and if we like it to be in the movie, youíd better be ready.í And usually that doesnít happen. We shoot the wide, we shoot mediums, the actors warm up, they get a little bit familiar with the lines, they maybe read the script and then by the end of the day we get it. He knew full well by that point the make-up might have simply melted off. So, 8 oíclock in the morning, Friday the 8th of January, he was here. And you know, he had a tight schedule. We needed to be done by lunch because something else was coming in and so that sharpens your focus a good deal. And so for me, it was about sticking very close to the script, to the look and all our discussions about how it would sound, and also heís a smart guy. He rehearsed us when it doesnít cost much money. Because thereís nobody else there really looking at the clock. Itís just a bunch of guys in a room saying, what if we tried this, what if we tried that. And Marvel has been extraordinary in responding to the things we just came up with. It was a wonderful moment where Tony and I, we have a confrontational scene and originally in the script, we were miles apart because itís this huge, heroic kind of thing. But we were in a little room rehearsing and there was something that Ken really liked about the intimacy. And I said well, Iíve got some super-powers I donít want to share with you here yet but maybe I can use something like that, and producer Craig Kyle said yeah absolutely, we might have something. I show up the other day to shoot the scene, on the strength of that rehearsal, on that idea that we had, they built a launching thing out of the floor that would match with the sci-fi, go with the green screen, so that we could slam into the tiny, intimate scene, about two guys going, ĎYour kidís a f*cking idiot.í [laughter] ĎYeah, I know, but you were an idiot once too.í ĎNot that big an idiot, I might have to kill him.í ĎOh please donít.í ĎF*ck you.í ĎF*ck you too.í And then we go back to a huge big deal. And we made this happen. They spent the money where it counted. It cost nothing to have the idea, but God bless you guys, Marvel came behind and said, ĎThis is a good idea. This really helps our narrative leap forward.í And so thatís what weíve been doing, trying to stay as on, you know, you donít mess around with Ken because when the ship sails, the ship sails. You get a couple of chances to be in the movie, and as Iíve said, if Iím no good in this movie, it wonít be his fault. Heís tried everything.
What are your thoughts on Chris Hemsworth?
Oh, heís playing Thor! Apparently heís very loud. Some people say heís very handsome. Not at all blue, no, heís charming, beaming smile and that kind of youthful, heroic idiocy that you expect from an action hero, right? (Dropped recorder sound) Oh, sorry! (inaudible, chatter)
No, heís extraordinary. One of the chief things about him is that heís charming. Itís actually really hard for me to be mad at him and growl at him but I imagine heís an idiot and it helps, because we need somebody at the core of this picture to be the leader. We need to believe in him. Even guys like me, I depend on him you see, and the more charming, and the more agreeable and the more heroic he is, the more I hate him, you know. And it makes sense I think, you know, the world will be a better place when I get rid of you. And so, he clearly is doing a very good job. Heís sexy and I mean I guess after a fashion youíd have to tell me that. For people under a certain age apparently, heís attractive and fit. God knows he looks pretty good in the outfit. And heís funny and that goes a long way. Charm, you know, is an intangible, you know, chutzpah, charm, charisma, that kind of thing, you canít buy it. You either have it or you donít. Heís got it in spades. And with his master, Ken, showing him the ropes and guiding him, itís all going very, very well.
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