James McAvoy doesn’t just dent his English gen­tle­man sta­tus in psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller Split ... he tears it apart and leaves it for dead

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

Some ac­tors de­scribe act­ing as the ul­ti­mate high be­cause they can be dif­fer­ent peo­ple. In Split you had nine char­ac­ters to play with ... It was def­i­nitely a very ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Act­ing can be a real high and I love it. I love per­form­ing and I love it when you are play­ing some­body who is just all in your imag­i­na­tion. There is some­thing about that, when it takes over and when it seems to just have its own life and you don’t feel like you are play­ing the char­ac­ter any­more. I al­ways re­mem­ber Ian McKellen talk­ing about play­ing the pi­ano for a per­for­mance. He said that for a few brief mo­ments he couldn’t tell if the mu­sic was com­ing from the pi­ano or if the mu­sic was com­ing from the per­son play­ing pi­ano. Some­times play­ing a char­ac­ter feels a bit like that. Did you have any hes­i­ta­tions to play nine, chal­leng­ing, dis­turb­ing char­ac­ters in just one film? Of course it was a bit scary. But the only way to not do that is to play safe and ba­si­cally just play the same char­ac­ter all the time. I en­joy be­ing able to not play safe roles and I hope that con­tin­ues. Also, the fact that some­thing has the po­ten­tial to be re­ally ter­ri­ble or re­ally good and noth­ing in-be­tween, I think that’s a good sig­nal that you should do it. The movie is ex­tremely en­ter­tain­ing, yet it con­tains sev­eral deeper lay­ers. It talks about peo­ple with se­ri­ous men­tal is­sues with great re­spect. The char­ac­ters that you play are not car­i­ca­tures, but there is a sense of hu­mour. How did you achieve that? A lot of the tone and of the hu­mour was in the script and I could tell that it was sup­posed to be funny at times. I checked that with the di­rec­tor and he con­firmed that he re­ally wanted the movie to be funny and dis­turb­ing and then funny and sad and then funny and hor­rific and then funny. The hu­mour is a way of be­ing truth­ful to the peo­ple that we are play­ing. Some of the peo­ple, of the dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, are en­joy­ing them­selves and they are en­joy­ing be­ing out. Three of them had been os­tracised for such a long time and not al­lowed to ex­press them­selves be­cause they rep­re­sent parts of Kevin’s over­all per­son­al­ity that aren’t seen as de­sir­able. So it’s al­most like they are get­ting a chance to per­form a bit as well. What the char­ac­ter Den­nis does to the three girls is aw­ful. Did you ever feel un­com­fort­able? Yeah I did. I also felt un­com­fort­able read­ing at some points. I didn’t want to be in a film about a guy kid­nap­ping three girls to rape them, un­less it’s got some mas­sive twist or turn com­ing up. Then of course a page and a half later, there was a mas­sive twist and turn, when sud­denly I am dressed like a woman, Pa­tri­cia. But, yeah, I was re­ally wor­ried at some points read­ing the script. There is a whole un­easy first few min­utes in the movie where I guess the au­di­ence is think­ing the same way. How do you in­ter­pret the line about pu­rity and the bro­ken be­ing more evolved? Well it’s the idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Un­less you have suf­fered great pain and you haven’t been tem­pered and you haven’t been straight­ened and tested. Go­ing through the cru­cible made you stronger. At its heart, it is the same idea as a su­per­hero movie. For in­stance, “My par­ents were killed in front of my eyes, it’s the worst thing that ever hap­pened to me, but it made me the Bat­man.” (The di­rec­tor) is just en­joy­ing play­ing with that idea in a slightly dif­fer­ent way. This film has an in­no­va­tive way of nar­rat­ing the story. Usu­ally some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pens to the lead char­ac­ter in the first few min­utes of the film and then we spend the rest of the film see­ing how that led him to be­come what he is now. In this film, it kind of pro­ceeds back­wards. By the end, you re­alise that you are watch­ing an ori­gin story or a su­per­hero story or the birth of a su­per vil­lain. And that is amaz­ing be­cause Casey is the hero and Kevin is the vil­lain. Yet they are both the same thing and they are both peo­ple who suf­fered greatly and who are stronger be­cause of it. Split is in cin­e­mas from to­day.

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