How do you approach a character like this?
This character is quite eccentric, quite larger than life. If I just did the character in such a way that I did physical things that made you laugh, and I got the gags right, then it would be stringing a series of gags together around a kind of caricature. And that can work—it can make you laugh for a period—but it’s not going to see you through to the end of the movie. So you have to process that when you’re doing it. And then you have to throw all that away and don’t over-intellectualize it and do it by the seat of your pants. I do like to have physical things just to hang onto to help me sort of go back into the characters—like the way I dress, the way I look, the way I walk, the things I do help me get a handle on the character. And then you kind of go back inside. Start on the outside, work your way inside and then come back out again. I don’t know what the hell that means, but it makes a kind of sense.
Characters like Dana Marschz and [fake TV broadcaster] Alan Partridge are, at first glance, such awful people.
Whenever I see a character onscreen who I feel is trying to get me to like them too much, it has the reverse effect. It kind of puts you off. It’s: “Quit looking at me with those doe eyes. I want to kill you.”
Marlon Brando once commented that acting is not a job for a man. Did any of that kind of thinking enter into this performance?
He’s fascinating, but I definitely don’t agree with him. That kind of machismo thing doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I don’t give a damn about how macho I look. I know I’m a guy. But yes, [my character] has got those slightly effete qualities. Talking about being liked, there’s that thing about actors wanting to look good and wanting to look cool. If you’re not worried about looking like a complete ass, if you’re committed to it, you can end up being cooler than anybody else.