“If you’re a tad weary then you, too, will feel like ‘do­ing a Chau­tauqua’”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - The Grinch is in cin­e­mas from Novem­ber 29.

Kick­ing back in a comfy sta­ble, some­where out Western Syd­ney way, there’s a big, mid­dle-aged, grey horse… en­joy­ing his re­tire­ment.

While he now no doubt spends his days play­ing golf and (with his hooves up) read­ing the rac­ing pages, back in his day Chau­tauqua was pretty spe­cial.

Rac­ing fans will know who I’m talk­ing about: The Grey Flash. sh. But for ev­ery­one else, this big, grey rey geld­ing was one of our most st loved and suc­cess­ful race­horses. rses.

Dur­ing his stel­lar ca­reer, the con­queror won six Group p One races, con­tribut­ing al­most $9 mil­lion to his su­per­an­nu­a­tion fund. Now that’s a lot of car­rots.

But then one day, at the ripe old age of eight, the big fella did some­thing dra­matic, stub­born and, I be­lieve, very, very clever.

He de­cided he didn’t want to do it any­more.

Re­mem­ber, this horse was bred to race. It’s all he’d ever known. And most highly trained horses will do what the hu­mans on their backs tell them to.

But one work­day Chau­tauqua got out of bed, stretched, walked to his of­fice (the bar­ri­ers) and then… just stood there. He re­fused to do his job. And then he re­fused again. And again. And again. He just didn’t want to gal­lop any­more. So he didn’t. Like that other old grey gam­bler Kenny Rogers, Chau­tauqua knew when to hold them, knew when to fold them and knew when to walk away. There was some­thing about this an­i­mal’s ab abil­ity to know his own mind that really tick­led my fancy. Prob­a­bly be­cause, al­though my grey hair is bet­ter hid­den than h his, I too think about re­tir re­tire­ment ALL the time. Some­times, I just want t to stand in the start­ing gates of life and… re­lax. When you start re­fer­ring to your knees a as the good and bad one (rat (rather than the right and lef left), or check your su­per bal­anc bal­ance fort­nightly, that’s when I feel l like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”. W When an ap­proach­ing group of “youths” fills you with panic, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”. W When your back goes out mor more of­ten than you do, or you have a party and the nei neigh­bours don’t even no­tice no­tice, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”. If you re­mem­ber when fame was a by by-prod­uct of tal­ent, or when your doc­tor tells you some prob­lem is “nor­mal for your age”, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

If you re­alise the po­lice, pi­lots and politi­cians are all younger than you, or you’re so an­cient you can re­mem­ber go­ing a whole day with­out tak­ing a pic­ture of any­thing, that’s when I feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

If you’re so old that you buy ex­pen­sive cheese then, yes, you too will oc­ca­sion­ally feel like “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

“I too think about re­tire­ment ALL the time”

How­ever, though I feel a deep spirit-an­i­mal con­nec­tion to this stub­born leg­end, un­like him I haven’t won six Group One races.

In fact, in my fi­nal year of high school I was beaten in the 800 me­tres by a girl who was wear­ing clogs.

So un­less I win Lotto, or the govern­ment low­ers the re­tire­ment age to 40, or the Hawkes fam­ily want to adopt me and put me up rent-free in an ad­join­ing Syd­ney sta­ble, I won’t be “do­ing a Chau­tauqua”.

This old grey mare will drag her sorry rump out of bed at spar­row’s to­mor­row for (track) work. See you Mon­day morn­ing… Samantha co-hosts Sun­rise, 5.30am week­days, on the Seven Net­work.

You’ve played a lot of in­tel­li­gent peo­ple in film and on TV – folks like Sherlock Holmes, Alan Tur­ing, Ju­lian Assange and Stephen Hawk­ing. Will we ever see you take on some­one com­pletely daft? Yes, you will. It is just that we kind of nat­u­rally grav­i­tate to­wards more ex­treme char­ac­ters in sto­ry­telling be­cause they are fur­ther away from us. That’s the flame that draws me to it: in­ves­ti­gat­ing how th­ese peo­ple are and how they do what they do. It’s ex­tra­or­di­nary for me. The great joy [of act­ing] is the trans­for­ma­tion – mov­ing away from what I know or who I am. So per­versely, I am prob­a­bly one of the stu­pid­est ac­tors I know [laughs]. I’m play­ing some of the smartest char­ac­ters be­cause I’m drawn to them. They are so dif­fer­ent from me. You play Marvel Comics’ Doc­tor Strange on film – and his su­per­power is ma­nip­u­lat­ing time. If you could do that off­screen, what time pe­riod or mo­ment’s out­come would you choose to change? I could talk about Brexit and Trump… but I don’t think I’ll be able to change the out­come. The source of dis­con­tent among the peo­ple that voted for those peo­ple, that’s a deeper ques­tion we’re still go­ing to have to face and an­swer. De­spite hav­ing bo­gey­men and mon­sters to talk about and vil­ify, we ac­tu­ally have to look at the root cause of how it’s hap­pened. That needs more than a time ma­chine. And in your own life? Would you change any­thing there? I’ve learnt from my mis­takes and I don’t be­lieve in re­grets. I think it’s all about mov­ing for­ward and learn­ing and be­ing present in the mo­ment. There are won­der­ful mo­ments I do live again and again in my mem­ory. It’s like any­thing that’s grow­ing and chang­ing – you roll with it. There’s a lot to look for­ward to in that. You are now voic­ing the Grinch, the fa­mously grumpy hol­i­day-hater cre­ated by Dr. Seuss, in an up­com­ing an­i­mated Christ­mas film. What about him – is he smart? The Grinch is in­ven­tive, but he’s not on the level of the other char­ac­ters I’ve played [laughs]. He’s got some pretty amaz­ing in­ven­tions and pretty cool gad­gets. I sup­pose you could say he’s in­tel­li­gent from that point of view – but not emo­tion­ally in­tel­li­gent. Who is the Grinch, any­way? Is he an an­i­mal, is he a part of the Whoville pop­u­la­tion [a fic­tional town where the Grinch lives filled with peo­ple called Whos], or is he maybe re­lated to Os­car the Grouch be­cause he’s green and kind of grumpy? Th­ese are ques­tions I had when I first started this project. I sat down with the artist and di­rec­tor and pro­ducer, and just sort of chat­ted. I said, “This is great but who is he? Who is he in re­la­tion to the Whos? Is he the only green guy? Is he a dif­fer­ent race or a dif­fer­ent species? What is it?” And they said, “Well, that’s a very long dis­cus­sion.” [Laughs.] I’m still not quite sure… Were you a Dr. Seuss fan as a child? A bit but, rather like comic books, it wasn’t some­thing that was highly preva­lent. I used to get the Grinch con­fused with the Lo­rax and the Cat in the Hat, which is a ter­ri­ble thing to do. I used to think Dr. Seuss was an ac­tual char­ac­ter; I didn’t re­alise he was the au­thor. All of th­ese things make much more sense to me now! I should have asked my dad be­fore do­ing any pub­lic­ity for this – he might be fu­ri­ous when he reads th­ese things [laughs].

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