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‘The Affair’s Ruth Wilson On ‘Hedda Gabler,’ Thinking Big & How “Hollywood Is No Longer The Top”: Q&A

Deadline logo Deadline 1/18/2017 Joe Utichi

As Alison in Showtime’s The Affair, currently running through its third season, Ruth Wilson is creating the kind of character most actors must dream of. With the story told from the subjective perspectives of multiple characters, Alison can turn on a dime. Sometimes confident, sometimes not. Sometimes together, sometimes broken. The show rightly won Wilson a Golden Globe in its first season, and she can add The Affair to a body of work that has developed over the past 10 years of a professional career to suggest this is just the start of something great.

Her breakthrough came in her native Britain with the BBC’s 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre, and she was BAFTA- and Globe-nominated right out of the gate. Then came Luther, and Alice Morgan, a character drawn from abject darkness and like nothing else on her résumé. On the big screen, she’s finally taking the lead this year, with the Netflix feature I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House from director Oz Perkins. She’ll star in John Cameron Mitchell’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties and lead Clio Barnard’s Dark River this year. Roles in Saving Mr. Banks, The Lone Ranger and Anna Karenina came first.

Her original passion, though, is the stage, and she’s currently treading the boards in London’s hot ticket: Ivo van Hove’s revival of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, from a new version by Patrick Marber, at the National Theatre. Hove, who recently directed the David Bowie musical Lazarus and the West End and Broadway hit revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, brings Gabler into the 21st century with an impressionistic staging that lays Wilson’s performance bare, and she has received rave reviews for it. It’s the latest in a line of theater work that has included the Broadway transfer of Constellations, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal (her Gabler co-star, Rafe Spall, played Gyllenhaal’s part in the original London staging) and two Olivier Award-winning performances in Anna Christie and A Streetcar Named Desire in the West End.

Hedda Gabler will form part of the current National Theatre Live season, broadcasting live to cinemas in the UK on March 9, and playing at U.S. venues soon afterward. We sat down together in January, not long after the show’s press night, to talk about her path to date, her plans for the future and the importance of art in making sense of a troubled world. If these seem like weighty topics, imagine them channeled through her supremely enjoyable company, considered by a woman whose enthusiasm for her work seems to be as inspiring for those around her as it is for herself.

DEADLINE: You’re into your third year on The Affair. Few actors get to really choose what they do. Survival means taking the roles that come along. But has the consistency of the show bought you a little flexibility to try things in your off-season?

WILSON: Yes. You never have a consistent job as an actor, so you’re always looking for the next thing. With The Affair, it’s like a 9-to-5 job that you have for five months every year, in a place that’s consistent, and with great money that enables you to do jobs that are slightly more experimental. Or theater, which pays nothing. It does allow you that freedom a bit more. You can pick and choose a bit.

I haven’t got responsibility. I’ve got a house now, and that’s my only responsibility. I don’t have kids. That’s also a benefit in a way. But like you say about choice, and how you dictate your career, it’s totally bulls–t. It’s defined by the opportunities that come across your doorstep at the time. A career is totally in the hands of fate, in terms of how those opportunities arise.

DEADLINE: Was theater what got you interested in acting to begin with?

WILSON: Yeah, as a kid, just to get us out of the house, Mum put us into a theater club. Kids’ theater club on Sundays. I remember watching two of my brothers in it and really wanting to be a part of the theater from watching them. That was where you met boys, and it was where I had my first kiss and all that sort of stuff. In the theater environment.

There was that really exciting time of putting the plays on. We had them for a week, and would do four or five performances. You’d go out on Friday nights for a curry after, and it was sort of like a community. It felt adult, because you did evening shows, and it felt sort of special. I think there was something in that that made me love it, and love the world of it. There were all different age ranges of kids, it wasn’t just 14-year-olds. There were some 18- or 19-year-olds, and it was a really nice way of mixing with older kids.

DEADLINE: Where did the moment of realization come for you, that this could be a career?

WILSON: It was when I was about 17. I was studying drama for GCSE [in high school] and I loved all the improvisation, and having to create little skits. It was always my favorite lesson. Then I did it for A-Level [in senior year] and I remember the teacher there was the first person that said to me, “You really should give acting a go.” I was like, “I don’t know.” I didn’t tell anybody about it, and while I loved the idea, it felt like a pipe dream. It felt a bit embarrassing to admit it to family, that I wanted to be an actor, but I produced a play with her up at the Edinburgh Festival, and then I applied to university for history and drama. I ended up doing history, but I looked for a theater on campus. In my mind, I was pursuing the idea of it, but privately and without telling anyone.

I went to Nottingham University, where there was a great theater on campus, and started doing plays there. It was there I met Carrie Cracknell and Mike Longhurst. We all did plays together, and devised them, and I went to off-off-Broadway with Carrie. It was then that I was like, “I’ve got to give this a go.” From there I went to drama school, but until then it was my own private journey and I wasn’t really telling anyone until I had to get money from my dad. Out of the blue, I had to go, “Can you help me out to go to drama school?” [My parents] were very supportive of it, luckily.

I only ever gave myself two years out of drama school. I thought, “I’ll do something else.” I just thought I might not be good enough. I would just see what happens, and if it doesn’t work out, do something else. I was quite laissez-faire about it.

DEADLINE: For most people, 10 years might be a reasonable amount of time to see how you get on with something you love more than anything. Two years is…

WILSON: I know. [laughs] But I was a bit like that the whole way. I remember, with drama school, I applied late, so there were only a few slots left. I got into Oxford School of Drama, and I only wanted to do one year because I’d already done three years at university. They were like, “We don’t think you’re ready for the one year. We want you for three years.” I was like, “No way.” Lots of people would go, “Yeah, OK. It’s drama school.” I turned it down, and that was before I knew if I’d got in anywhere else. I was just like, “I’ll reapply next year.” It was either innate confidence or just complete naivety. Probably more the latter, actually. I was a cocky little s–t at that age.

DEADLINE: It’s hard to know if that’s cockiness or just a total lack of self-belief.

WILSON: It probably was a bit. But luckily, LAMDA came back and they were like, “You can do two years,” so I thought, Great. But I was very… I don’t know, perhaps slightly resistant to it, always. Slightly scared of going there, because if I was rejected I didn’t know what I’d do.

DEADLINE: It was a kind of guard you put up.

WILSON: Yeah, maybe. Two years was defense. If I kept getting rejected, I could go and do something else. But it kept kind of pulling me in, even though I was a bit resistant to it.

DEADLINE: Which is interesting, because when I think about who you play in shows like The Affair and Luther, your characters often seem to have their defenses up.

WILSON: Really? Maybe that’s so. I think this year’s been interesting on The Affair, because I think maybe I am slightly more guarded, and there’s a lot of internal life going on with the character that’s not so open. It’s more sort of, you’ve got to come here to get what you want. I don’t know. But this year, generally, I think I’ve got to try and let go of control a bit more, because I think there is something about when you lack confidence, that there’s a place you have to get to where you go, “OK, I’m confident in my ability, and I’m confident I can trust my tools a little bit, or my instinct,” so you let go a little bit, and you have more freedom.

I worked with three film directors this past year that were all kind of visualists in their own way. Clio Barnard, John Cameron Mitchell and Oz Perkins. They all asked completely wild things of me. I thought, “All right, this year I’m going to let go of control and just hand myself over to them.” And it’s been hard, in moments, and then, culminating with Ivo [on Hedda Gabler], it’s been glorious. I feel liberated. The freedom of being funnier and braver, or just being more me. I actually think it is being more me. I’m letting the parts out of me a little bit more.

DEADLINE: How did Hedda Gabler come to be?

WILSON: I asked to meet Ivo, because I was a massive fan of his work. He didn’t have a clue who I was, and had to phone someone up and ask, “Is she worth meeting?” They said yes, so we met. We just had a conversation about Bowie mainly, and then I told him I loved him. Hedda came about because I was already talking to the National Theatre about working here and potentially doing Hedda Gabler. Ivo was supposed to be doing something else, which fell through. So there was a space, and he’d already done Hedda, so he said, “I’ve got a time limit, but it could work.” Suddenly we’re working together and it feels like a match made in heaven.

DEADLINE: His staging of Hedda Gabler is sparse, and puts the focus on performance. It puts the play on the actors’ shoulders, and you’re the title character. Is there a pressure associated with that?

WILSON: Weirdly, because he doesn’t want to psychologize all that much, it’s also liberating. I think that some people resist the modernization or the fact that it’s slightly stylized, but I think you have to go with that. You have to let go of your preconceptions a bit, which I had to do in the rehearsal room, completely. Ivo’s a mad genius, and I feel exhilarated working with him because he sees the world through a different prism.

He’s Belgian, and often Europeans—though this is not always the case—tend not to want to psychologize. Brits are all up in the head with writing and art, which is why it’s so detailed and why we have such a history of writing. We love to psychologize characters, and intellectualize everything. There was something about working with him that might partly be to do with the fact that English isn’t his first language, but also, it’s just the way he likes to direct and what he wants to see from theater—which is doing rather than thinking, or intellectualizing every decision.

So that’s really freeing, especially with a character like Hedda, where she remains mysterious. She’s a character that is irrational by nature. To try and rationalize her might not take you down the right route.

He gave us very specific places he wanted us to be, directing us very specifically in terms of location and where you are on the stage, and if you’re on your knees or you’re going to be curled up on that couch. You didn’t have much freedom in that respect, but within that you could do what you wanted. You knew the emotional extreme he wanted you to do to.

It’s been liberating for me because I’m a big thinker. I like to find the solution to a character and know every nuance, and in this there’s a freedom to it. Every night it’s kind of spontaneous, really.

DEADLINE: Spontaneity must be essential when you’re playing a character as dark as this, just in keeping you sane and making sure she doesn’t leave the stage with you.

WILSON: Yeah—I think it could be really exhausting for you as an actor, but also for the audience, if you’re going to the deep, dark depth of where this character goes to.

I feel protected with Ivo, so that in the doing of it I can trash the set with flowers, and staple stuff, but in the next scene I don’t have to take that with me. The next scene can be light, and actually it makes it much more frightening and dangerous for her, and for the audience to watch where she’s going to go. She’s also really funny. She’s acerbic and witty, and it’d be a shame to lose that to the darkness.

When we first talked about it, he said, “It’s a suicide play,” and I was like, “I don’t really know what that suggests.” I mean, yeah, she kills herself, but what does that mean? I started looking into women that had committed suicide, and I was reading Sylvia Plath’s diaries, which are sort of incredible, and very similar to some of the things Hedda says, and how she views the world. My personal opinion of Hedda is that she sees all too clearly and feels very deeply, but just hasn’t got the courage to live deeply. She wants to live in superficiality because it’s easier in some ways, but some ways not.

DEADLINE: It’s her power. The strongest power she has in a world clearly run by men.

WILSON: Exactly. She can toy with these men because she can see all their weaknesses. The thing is, they all offer up information to her. She doesn’t have to push. Her power is that they seem to want to tell her things, and then she uses that for her own gain, or really, just because she can, even if it’s not gaining her anything. The one person she underestimates is Brack, and she tells him things that he uses against her. It’s a really fascinating play about power and control, courage and gender dynamics.

DEADLINE: Here you have a play, written in the late 19th Century, by a man, in which the balance of power between genders is purely political, it’s under examination, and Hedda is fully developed. It sort of makes a mockery of the excuses we use for there being a disparity today.

WILSON: I always question this, because I grew up with three brothers, so I was in a very male environment, and wasn’t treated like the girl in that environment. I was treated equally to all of them, so I grew up not thinking there was a difference. There shouldn’t be a difference—and as humans we all have the capacity to be as irrational or as dangerous as Hedda. It’s just that men, because they’ve constructed history, have been the ones frightened of it and they’ve gone, “No, women are supposed to have kids, and are supposed to be nurturing and womanly and gentle.” It’s like, no, they’re as dangerous as you are, and they can also be just as wonderful and talented and academic and bright.

I think there’s something about Ibsen, because this was one of his last plays, and I think he was representing himself in that character as much as he was representing a woman. He was saying we are capable of everything, and that’s what makes us dangerous. And you see it in the context of now, where we see how dangerous people can be, and how fragile the world is, how volatile it is, and it’s the scary thing about the play: we’re all capable of that.

DEADLINE: Does that make playing Hedda enticing in the sense that she allows herself to get away with doing the things she does?

WILSON: Definitely. She’s glorious, because there’s moments that you can see yourself in it. When my parents came to watch it, and I chuck all the flowers across the stage, my dad leaned in to my mum and said, “Oh, reminds me of someone,” meaning her, because mum chucked a can of pineapple at my dad once. It’s things like that where you think of things you kind of wish you could do. I get to destroy a bunch of flowers every night, which is unheard of; you’d think it was mad.

DEADLINE: It’s almost more shocking than the gunshots in the play, because it seems like such a raw, destructive act.

WILSON: I think there’s something impressionistic about the way Ivo stages it. If you read it, you see the extreme things she does, and in some respects, Ivo pushes them just a little more. When it was first staged it caused an uproar, obviously, because this woman was kind of detestable and people couldn’t imagine that a woman could be written like that. Like they didn’t want to encourage women to be like that. Don’t let them let their demons out.

Ivo, by pushing those provocative things, which are extreme in the text, but then staged in even more extreme ways—pushed further—it makes it still shocking to a modern audience. If it was all buttoned up… Often you see it and it’s all in period dress and they’re in corsets and it’s all very subtle and nuanced and held in, and the anger is boiling under. He lets it all rip, which I love.

DEADLINE: It actually often puts me off the classics, because usually they’re treated so reverently that it feels as though you’re part of a church congregation bowing to the altar of the text, rather than an audience going to see a story told to you.

WILSON: I agree. They’re done so often and it’s always so reverent, and that’s what I mean about language, because for Ivo, when English isn’t your first language I think you’re more likely to edit and cut. I saw his Kings of War, which was all the boring, historical Shakespeare plays [Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III], and it was four-and-a-half hours, and I was dreading it. But it was thrilling. He’d cut it completely. Falstaff didn’t exist—he’d cut out loads of characters—but he kept the through-line of it, which was what each play said about power, and how it’s usurped in time. It became like a thriller, and it wasn’t all in Shakespeare-speak. It was kind of a mix and some of it was poetic. I just thought, Yes. They’re still the same stories, and we’re reinventing them for a modern audience, and we’re putting fresh eyes on it, and illuminating it in different ways.

And I’ve done a lot of classics. I’ve only done one new play, although Through a Glass Darkly wasn’t the first adaptation of that [Ingmar Bergman] film. Partly, I quite like the language of the classics, though I tend to do a lot of American plays. I think they’re much rawer than British plays. And Chekhov does that, too. Mix it up a bit, throw it out again. We do get stuck, I think, and we do get really reverent. I totally agree with you.

DEADLINE: I liked that, as we were filing in, you were already on stage, with your back to the audience, tinkling on a piano.

WILSON: I’m so aware of everyone filing in. I’m getting louder on the keys, like, shut up. Trying to get your attention. But actually I don’t want it. [laughs] There have been nights where it’s gone completely quiet, and the audience is waiting for it to start as people are still coming in. They go dead quiet and suddenly I have my own recital.

But it’s really fun, because it does relax me. We’re all a part of this. You’re all inside of it and you’re creating this together with the actors. It’s why theater is so special, and why working with Ivo has been such an enlightening experience for me, and it’s made me perform differently than I ever usually do, and why I’ll always have to do it every few years.

With Ivo, I think it’s been a real combination of where I’m at with me, and working with him. I didn’t ask one question of him; I just did whatever he told me to do. It was a sort of sense of like, it’s totally opposite to what I thought I’d be doing, but I love what you’re asking me to do, so I’m going to go there.

You never know. You can create opportunities, try and make space for them, and they might come and feed back to you 10 years later; someone you met, or something you did. But you never know how it’s going to go.

DEADLINE: You wonder how many projects we love have come together through pure happenstance.

WILSON: I think most of them. That’s also the thing that’s so frightening about our job, is that you never can have control over it, and so you live in chaos all the time. You might take The Lone Ranger. And I loved doing that job, I had the best time on it, but it was nailed to the cross before it even came out. You’re thinking, Well, if it had been a huge success, I might still be doing them. I might not have been able to do Hedda because I’d be doing The Lone Ranger 9. The world turns in different ways, and things that seem like they’re going to be a huge push for your career often don’t end up being that. It’s something bizarre, that someone sees something somewhere that makes an impact.

DEADLINE: It’s hard to rationalize anything also because the industry is in constant flux. At one time the received wisdom was that actors should start in theater, graduate to television, graduate to film and then graduate to Hollywood, and hope that they didn’t get stuck in any one of those little buckets. Now, if you’re not mixing your career up, you’re not doing it right.

WILSON: I know. Hollywood is no longer the top. It’s frightening, isn’t it? I was thinking that today. I was talking to my agent about film. I love going to the cinema. I’ve always adored the idea of being in great, epic films. But they just don’t really exist anymore. It’s a real shame. There’s great auteurs that create small movies, but it’s really hard for anyone to see them, and for them to make any sort of money, or for them even to be made in the first place. I don’t really understand. I don’t know what the future of film is really. If it’s these big blockbusters, which are fun, but they don’t really have much to say.

I think, unless you’re Jennifer Lawrence, or some other big name, they don’t even really pay that much, either. They know that star quality doesn’t necessarily make something a success anymore, so they’re more inclined to get people that aren’t big names, and pay them pathetic amounts of money, even though the film might earn billions, and you’re trapped by the contract. I honestly don’t think that route pays off anymore. The old myth of doing one big movie to buy you time… it’s rubbish. It doesn’t work out in the slightest.

I don’t understand the reasoning. I suppose it’s because audiences aren’t turning up for anything else. Is that the answer?

DEADLINE: I can’t believe that.

WILSON: I can’t believe that either, really. It’s just we’re dumbing down. You can argue about globalization and the many benefits it has had, but also you have to appeal to the mass with everything. The Chinese, the Americans, the Russians… Everything becomes this very bland product, and that’s all we’re producing at the moment. It’s driven by money.

DEADLINE: So maybe that’s where a little reverence that comes in with theater actually goes a long way, because you can subvert it once you have the audience in their seats, but it’s what makes them go in the first place.

WILSON: Yeah, it’s sacred. There’s something about telling stories and being in a room with people hearing them. The communal thing about cinema, which is what is so brilliant, is being lost too, because there are so many screens. You go to a cinema now and there’s four people in the audience. But the communal experience of sharing something, and being part of it, and watching something visually striking, that’s what film is all about. Seeing everything on a big screen, and to be able to see something phenomenal in that way, and being moved by it. We have kind of lost the tradition of that, and we’re not nurturing the next generation in that tradition, and maybe that’s why they’re not turning up.

DEADLINE: But as much as it’s a business, it is still a business that relies on art, and it requires master artists to practice it. You see that in the awards season, where films like Manchester by the Sea, Fences, and Moonlight, don’t exist without the reckless abandon of true artists.

WILSON: I totally agree. People are always going to want to see that—there’s always going to be a place for it, and it will always stand the test of time. It heartens me that, in theater, in TV, in film, if any one of those mediums is limiting artists, they’ll find a place to express themselves and to challenge the world in another avenue. What’s interesting to me is that we’re always trying to find formulas for what works, but what works is what hasn’t been done before. There are people who understand that, and real artists understand that.

But I think performance and telling stories will always exist, because we need to escape and we need to reflect. I think it’ll be all right. There’ll still be people wanting to be told stories.

I, more and more, get really drawn into different worlds as well, like dance or music, and so I more and more want to work with people that I really respect in those avenues, which often means some weird collaboration of some sort that people might never see, but it’s something I can find expression in. You want to work with people that will challenge you.

DEADLINE: How is that manifesting?

WILSON: Alex Poots is a producer who used to run the Manchester International Festival, and the Armory, and now he’s going to become the artistic director of The Shed in New York. He comes up and asks, “Ruth, what do you like?” I was like, “Well, I like dance, and I like poetry.” He’s like, “Right, you should get together with Marie-Agnès Gillot. We’ll give you some money. Spend a week with her at the Paris Opera, and you two dance together.” The two of us workshopped for a week, and we have something on camera, which is us two just fiddling about and creating something to a poem. It was things like that—the magic of creation—where you come up with something. You put artists, even of different walks of life, together in a room and they will create something.

DEADLINE: A lot of actors are producing movies, even with no intention of starring in them. This year, Brad Pitt produced Moonlight, Jeremy Renner produced The Founder and Colin Firth produced Loving, for example, sometimes against the odds. Maybe that’s where you find star power these days. Artists want to work with other artists.

WILSON: Producing something is tiresome, but I’ve done a few bits. You get led there when you’ve got time. I get led there when I’ve got empty space. It’s about creating, looking for work, and looking for things that might inspire. And it doesn’t necessarily have to do with you, but something that interests or challenges you. I think there’s a drive from people that want to tell those stories, and that will always be the case.

I think we’ll be all right, but if it changes then you just have to adapt. It just takes a while for people to understand the changes a bit, I suppose.

I have a feeling we’ve kind of reached peak celebrity or fame. Well, I don’t know that we have—I remember thinking that 10 years ago, and that was just the beginning. But now the President of the United States is a former reality TV star. It’s made me stop reading the news, actually, because it makes me feel happier not to. After he became president, I just went straight into Hedda rehearsals, and I’ve had a great old time, in my bubble. What are you doing on inauguration day? Can we all just go and get pissed or something? [laughs]

It’s why the arts is so important, and why I stick in fantasy and make believe, because it’s where the real truth is. Everyone in that community that gets to partake and watch, it’s such a privilege. If I can continue to go through life reflecting on me and the people around me, what a privilege. An amazing privilege to be able to do that.

And I’ve seen myself grow in the 10 years I’ve been doing my job. You become so non-judgmental. You become encompassing. You have to love every character that you play. The amount of people you work with, and different people from different walks of life.

Working on Dark River was amazing, because it was only a five-week shoot, and it was so little budget, but there was major stuff to do in those five weeks. I had to be a sheep shearer. I had to learn to shear sheep. I had to castrate them, douse them, put something in their mouths. I couldn’t even hold a shear. I went up and stayed on a farm for three weeks, with a lovely couple called Malcolm and Hazel. It was so far removed from my everyday. The live in this rundown farm, with sheep s–t everywhere, and during lambing season, they’ll just sleep on a couch and get up early. I really respected and admired them, and their life. I got on really well with them. Such brilliant people, and so far removed from my world. It was such an insight. I feel so privileged to have access and insight into a farmer’s life like that. Who else gets to do that? I learned to shear a sheep. I don’t think I could do it now. I think I have a totally short-term memory.

DEADLINE: But that’s fine. I don’t think it’ll be a demand of your career for years to come.

WILSON: I might become a sheep shearer. [laughs]

DEADLINE: It’s true that, even on a film or television set, it’s a whole ecosystem at work. Not just artists, but craftsmen, electricians, builders, managers and workers. It’s a small slice of life. And all in service of a community goal.

WILSON: Absolutely, and they’re often the first to be knocking down barriers. It’s always the arts communities that challenge those ceilings, and they’re the first to smash them. There were black presidents in art long before Obama, for instance. I’ve worked a lot for Act for Change, which is about diversity on TV, and it is always that thing: if you put it on screen first, people get used to the idea and they’re not going to have such a problem with it. Get them to accept, and visualize. If you put it in their homes, they’re going to be much more accepting generally. It’s a powerful change.

DEADLINE: Imagine the world without art in it.

WILSON: Oh, God. That’s why everyone’s fearful of all these legends dying. All these people that were still considered true artists, and who broke the boundaries and railed against something, or doing the opposite of what happening in the world, and kept making people think differently.

I think what’s so weird to me about the world is that it’s all about us chasing money. I don’t understand this need to have so much money. You’re not doing anything with it. You look at these reality TV stars who use Instagram to show off their wealth, and it’s just disgusting. What, so you can get a pair of fake tits? Who cares? It all looks pornographic. You spend four hours doing your makeup, for what? Taking 45 minutes to take a selfie. Why would you waste your time? Go and read something. Go to a gallery. It’s so bizarre, and it becomes so narcissistic.

DEADLINE: I don’t need to ask if you do social media.

WILSON: I’ve got a Facebook, but I’ve got about 50 friends or something. I don’t post anything. I occasionally do private messages to people, but that’s it really.

I’ve heard actors say they’ve been told to get a Twitter. I’ve never been told that, actually, and most of my team will say, “Don’t do it.” But young actors are told you have to get Twitter or you won’t get jobs. Bulls–t.

DEADLINE: The only thing I think I could learn about an actor from their Twitter page, if I was considering casting them, would be why I should not.

WILSON: Yeah. I do believe in the era of mystery and not knowing too much. If you know so much about someone, you can’t see anything but that when you watch them on screen. It doesn’t help you in the slightest.

In a funny way, it actually makes it much harder to sustain a career. With musicians, I think the last bad that had real longevity attached to it was Coldplay. Every other band after that, they come and they go. The same with actors. You’re totally replaceable by the next movie. Occasionally a Jennifer Lawrence will come through, who’s reminiscent of the film stars that have come before, and you hope they’ll have a longevity and will stick around, but there are fewer guarantees. That’s why you’ve got to keep doing good work, and keep finding avenues for good art. Defining yourself that way, because you can’t even rely on a hit sustaining you in any sort of career. It’s quite a fickle world at the moment.

I love my life, and I love what it does for me. I’m someone that likes change, and likes to keep learning. I get bored easy, if I don’t. I don’t think I’m doing anything interesting, or I’m not growing. The people that inspire me, generally, are artists that always slightly hit me sideways in terms of where they go next, or they’re trying to say something new, and it might not always work, but at least they try. I think that’s the only way to live. You hope you’re successful, but really the joy of doing this is of working with people like Ivo or Clio or John Cameron Mitchell. Brilliant people.

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