dumbo trailer

The idea of a Disney villain is very specific. There’s often that sort of pantomime silliness and archness. Is there any of that to Skellig or is it more grounded?

I wondered about that before I came here and before I met Tim for the first time. It was one of my big questions. It would be very easy to imagine a Disney villain as sort of “muahaha” and over the top. But Tim is great, he wants everyone playing everything very real, very held back. Not forced, nothing over the top. Even to the point where you feel like, “Did I do enough?” I think the characters and the writing and the story speak for themselves, the actors don’t really have to do much. It’s so well-written. Everything is played very real, very down to earth and grounded. You don’t get much over-the-top stuff, which I think means people are going to hate me even more!

What were your favorite Disney films growing up?

I’m an old romantic. And I cry at silly things. Beauty and the Beast is a favorite. But you know, of the old things, I like the Mickey Mouse originals like Steamboat Willie. That was always a favorite because I used to watch it as a kid with my dad. I liked Lion King, which was always one of my favorites. So I had a few, but they always get me. Aladdin for example was another. I used to do musical theater, so it was always fun singing that when I was at drama school. All my audition songs were from that show. But I pretty much like all of them. I haven’t seen much of the newest ones.

That’s the great thing about Dumbo. It’s almost like Disney are making a new Mickey Mouse. Dumbo is Disney. More than every other character. You take a picture of Mickey Mouse and Dumbo and show it anywhere in the world and people will go “That’s Mickey Mouse and Dumbo.” Even if you take pictures of the Disney princesses, unless they’re really geeky, most people won’t know which one it is. But everyone knows Dumbo, everybody knows Mickey Mouse. So it’s such an amazing privilege to be part of Disney doing this and being part of Dumbo because it is Disney’s heritage. It’s going back, what 70 years since the original came out.

How does working with Tim differ from other directors you’ve worked with?

The only thing I’ll say is he just cares so much. I don’t think I’ve worked with a director who cares so much. He cares about the actors being comfortable in what they’re doing and feeling safe. And that’s why he’s put together such a great cast. We’re all just playing. There feels like there’s no pressure on set, even though you know there is — it’s a huge studio feature and there’s a lot of money at stake, etc. But you never feel like it on set. Everyone just seems so calm and in control. And none of it gets to the actors. I’ve worked on sets where there’s so much stress, that every time you walk onto set you feel like there’s this massive weight on your shoulders at all times. And sometimes you have to catch yourself because you’re sitting there, and Tim’s there, and Danny Devito, and Michael Keaton, and Colin, and you’re hanging out and having fun, and you’re like, “Should it be this easy? Should it be this much fun?” But it is, it really is.

Were there any inspirations for your character? Did you look at any real-life actors or movies from the past?

A lot of people that I hate very much. As I said, I’m very anti-hunting and I’m involved in a lot of charities and work against hunting and big-game hunting. So I know a lot of people that I can reference this particular character to. None that I would want to be friends with or recommend be friends with.

Does your character have a really cool costume? Because I know these are all very iconic looks in this movie. Does your character have a distinct look?

All of the costumes from what you’ve seen in the photos are incredible. But my costume, I wouldn’t say it’s an exciting costume, I have this beautiful three-piece suit. We’re all in suits, which is fantastic, we’re obviously period. And some very special footwear that I cannot mention. They’re a pair of boots but they’re pretty special. And it’s a first for me because I’ve never done anything period before. So normally I’d be doing something futuristic, or I’m in military gear, or covered in blood, or covered in prosthetic make-up or whatever. So this is lovely, I get to wear this beautiful period suit. And I get eyelashes and eyebrows!

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