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2002 - Question & Answer Special #2.

Author: Staff Writer.
Publication: RGO.


Actor Rupert Graves takes part in the second exclusive "question and answer" series, giving his replies to a host of queries put forward by his fans via his website.

Joyce from Maine, USA asks:
Of all the roles you've had, on stage, screen, television, what was the most
challenging, and why?

Rupert Graves: That would be The Pitchfork Disney - it was the first part I was able to completely become somebody else and learnt to appreciate the lesson of being free from the ego.

Seán from Cambridge, United Kingdom:
Is there a character that you have always wanted to play and, in particular,
contribute your own interpretation to that role? If so, what is it and would you prefer a theatre or cinema adaptation?

Rupert Graves: There's no character that I can think of.

James from Jackson, USA:
Being a heterosexual, how did you prepare yourself for the intimate scenes with James Wilby in Maurice ?

Rupert Graves: I immersed myself in the part and stayed true to it, and that's what the part did.

Christine from Romeoville, IL:
You were amazing in "Different for Girls", tell me how did you manage to disappear into a character who I believe had a very difficult and different storyline?

Rupert Graves: I think the story had a nice twist in it regarding the assumptions we make about our own sexuality. The dilemma of being in love with a man who had become a woman, and the fact that it was a dilemma for the character gave me something very strong to play.

Gary from Seattle, USA:
Rupert, not including the stage, where do you find the better quality writing these days? Films, or television? And, as an extension of that question, from which source are you personally offered in your opinion the best scripts?

Rupert Graves: I think the quality of writing for film is better generally, but this is impossible to answer as there is great writing for TV, but I tend to get offered better film than TV work.

Jean-Francois from Liege, Belgium:
Is there a chance to see you one day in a European movie speaking another language, such as French for example? It would be a real pleasure for me!

Rupert Graves: If I get asked and if the producers think I can speak it well enough, but there are plenty of good Belgian or French actors they may choose to ask before me.

Caroline from Midlands United Kingdom:
In the Forsyte Saga - in which you really were superb - your character aged dramatically in the first two episodes with massive wrinkles and greying hair. Then, began to grow younger throughout the subsequent episodes - has Young Jolyon got the secret elixir of youth and if so where can we buy it!

Rupert Graves: We made strong makeup decisions which we felt we were told we had to back away from so although the character grew older, in the eyes of some it may have appeared that he grew younger.

Maybaby from Surrey:
Which acting role would you most like to be remembered for?

Rupert Graves: I want people to enjoy what I do at the time, which is why I prefer theatre over film and TV. I like that immediacy.

Erin from Portland, Oregon:
Having performed on Broadway and also the London stage, how would you say the two regions of theatre differed? Is the British concept of theatre vastly different than that of the American?

Rupert Graves: I think commercial theatre is pretty much the same in both places. Subsidised theatre is probably similar too, but I think there's more subsidised theatre in the UK. In New York I think there's more of a society built up and around theatre and Broadway is its own social elite. The West End isn't quite like that.

Mark Marino from New York City:
During the months that you performed on Broadway, New York City was put on high alert several times due to terrorism warnings. Did it effect you in any way, and did it make you anxious to return to England?

Rupert Graves: September 11th was one of the most awful acts in anyone's memory anywhere. I felt that it was such a horrendous act, that there was very little else that they needed to do. I personally didn't believe there would be any more atrocities in the aftermath, therefore I could enjoy my time in NY and wish that the play lasted longer and I could've stayed longer.

Kristina from Windsor, England:
Which role would you give everything to play and have not yet played, and which has so far eluded you but you feels you are waiting to perform?

Rupert Graves: There's no specific part that comes to mind, but there are hundreds of parts out there I'd love to play.

Ross from Bermuda:
Is there is some book that you have read that you would like to see made into a film ... that you would also act in, and what character you'd want to play ?

Rupert Graves: In my fantasy I'd like to play James Lee Burke's character Dave Robicheaux because I love his characterisations and his descriptions of Louisiana (especially the food).

Barry Wilson from London:
What would your reasons be for accepting or declining an invitation to be on Celebrity Big Brother ?

Rupert Graves: I find it hard enough staying in the country for one week, but to spend a week inside one house with television cameras would make me demented.

David, from Haifa, Israel:
For some reason, I don't know why, I have a special feeling after watching a film of yours and your acting, as if being touched deep inside. What does it feel like to have an impact on people (that you don't even know) ?

Rupert Graves:I'm glad that you felt that. When I was young I was touched by actors (such as Warren Mitchell in Death Of A Salesman), which inspired me to become an actor. I feel glad to part of a medium that touches people in that way.

Juan Castro y Velazquez from Guayaquil, Ecuador:
I saw you in a film playing the part of Joseph, playing at the beach. Does you have a particular relation to cities in front of the sea?

Rupert Graves: I was born in one and I'm always happiest nearest the sea.

Joe K from Drexel Hill, PA USA:
After being successful as an actor for the better part of 2 decades now, do you find yourself drawn to the safer, less challenging roles? That is, do you sometimes think that, when you were younger, you were more willing to take on roles that were more of a risk, simply because you had no reputation to protect or that you did not think of Acting as a life-long "career"?

Rupert Graves: I always thought of acting as a life long career. I've never really worried about my reputation, and I'm always interested in challenges and challenging roles.

Natalie Keeble, from Essex, England:
Did you ever have another real ambition whilst you were growing up? If so, what was the deciding factor that led you to your acting destiny?

Rupert Graves: I always wanted to be a runner, but I've got terrible legs and I'm quite slow!

Keith Drummond from San Francisco asks:
I've never had the chance to ask this of someone who is not only a great film actor, but an exceptional stage actor as well: I've seen you on stage and know that you have tremendous spontaneity on stage, but, somehow, you also manage to get it on film.

My question: When you're filming, how do you maintain the life in a scene of which you've already done 20 or 30+ takes, or, similarly, in a scene where the camera is constantly switching POV, e.g., the "This most violent pain" episode in Joseph Lees? All the more so when you're working completely out of sequence with the story. How do you keep your work from becoming merely mechanical? Do you iron it out with the director and then "set" it and soldier on for however many takes it requires?

Or do you keep looking for similar but different emotional motivations within, a la the so-called "Method," to keep it lively? As an singer and occasional director of opera (which has NO spontaneity whatever), I am really interested in this from the standpoint of an experienced actor who, somehow, manages to keep it all, by whatever technique it is you're using, so transparent.

Rupert Graves: You normally do a maximum of 10 takes, but you might do it 30 or 40 of times because of the different angles. I suppose the technique is to save the greatest emotional energy for when the camera gets closest to you. If the camera's on your back you need to give enough to help your fellow actor, but it would be foolish to waste a limited amount of emotional energy when the camera can't really see what you're doing. But the idea really, as an actor, is to immerse yourself in what you're doing, as much as you can, at the time you're doing it - I think.. there's also a great book called "Lessons For A Professional Actor" by Michael Chekhov, which deals with imagination.

Karen from West London:
Which of the characters you have played is most like you ?

Rupert Graves: I have a belief that people have a very wide range of potential behaviour. They're shaped by culture, peer pressure, parents. We're all born with a specific nature, but we're shaped by these things. One of the interesting things for me about acting is I can explore my personal parameters. So I suppose my characters are all a part of my imagined self.

Sarah from South Wales:
Which of your roles would you LEAST like to be remembered for?

Rupert Graves: I'm not telling you. Actually there's one in a film called "The Sheltering Desert", but I can't even remember what my character was called. Not only would I like to be least remembered for it - I don't think anyone will remember it because it was so bad hardly anyone saw it.

Joanna Meyer asks:
What did you think of the character of Irene in the Forsyte Saga - vulnerable or devious and manipulative harlot?! The reason I'm asking this question, is that every female I have spoken to thinks she is instantly dislikeable so I wondered how you felt from a male perspective, given that you played her second husband Jolyon?

Also - Apologies in advance for this silly question but I'm curious:

My sister is convinced that she once saw you in a Trade Union Health and
Safety video for the catering industry - is this true?

Rupert Graves: I think it's hard for us to understand the pressures that were put on women at the end of the 19th century. They had no chance of creating independent income and they often had to make pacts with their family and with themselves to enter marriages which would stifle them, or face poverty. The courtship was so formalised I think they wouldn't really know who they were marrying and if they could love the person they were marrying until it was too late. I think Irene is a woman who married the wrong man and felt imprisoned within the marriage. So therefore I see her as Jolyon sees her: as a victim.

In answer to your second question - your sister may be referring to a BBC production called "Union Matters".

Gary from Seattle, USA:
Rupert, not including the stage, where do you find the better quality writing these days? Films, or television? And, as an extension of that question, from which source are you personally offered in your opinion the best scripts?

Rupert Graves: I think the quality of writing for film is better generally, but this is impossible to answer as there is great writing for TV, but I tend to get offered better film than TV work.

Jack from The US:
Is there any film role that you have done that you would also like to play onstage - if the property was ever done as a play ?

Rupert Graves: I think films translate badly to stage and vice versa. Parts that I've enjoyed have probably been a mixture of me fitting into the character well, and the character existing in the right medium.

Davina from Chile:
Do you believe in God, or any religion ?

Rupert Graves: I believe in a creator. I believe in something bigger than me. I have a hard time in believing in religious dogma. If there is any religion I feel any sympathy towards it's Taoism. However, if people's belief in their chosen religion makes them genuinely happy and secure, then it must be a good thing.

From Laurie in Indianapolis:
What famous (or infamous) historical person would you most like to portray in either film or on stage? And what famous character from fiction would you most like to portray?

Rupert Graves: Caligula, because I've always wanted to.

Tom O'Loughlin from Bedminster, New Jersey:
Do you think your career was adversely affected by appearing in "Maurice" before you were an established actor? And, were you and James Wilby signed up to do "A Handful of Dust" when you agreed to do "Maurice"?

Rupert Graves: I think Maurice helped my career rather than harmed it, and no - they were different companies.

Dennis Moore, from South Kirkby, West Yorkshire:
Rupert are you married and if so to whom and for how long, and what is your favourite pass time?

Rupert Graves:Yes - I'm married to my wife.
My favourite pastimes are air hockey, table tennis, and playing my guitar.

Irene Lankry from New York:
Rupert, some quick questions for you: If you were in a time machine, what time, day, or year would you want to go back or forward to and why?

Rupert Graves: I want to have a specially constructed time bubble to sit in and watch the first big bang.

If you could be a fly on somebody's wall whose alive today, whose would it be ?

Rupert Graves: A fly on the inside of Uri Geller's cutlery drawer.

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, what would you want to come back as in the next life, and what do you think you might have been in a past life?

Rupert Graves: I'd like to come back as a Gibbon for arboreal arm speed. In my last life I think I was a cowboy.

If you had a conversation with God, what would be your first question to him?

Rupert Graves: Why ?

What are your top 3 favorite places in the world ?

Rupert Graves: Gunyangrinjani (Indonesia) My roof (UK) Siena (Italy) .

What are your top 5 favorite songs of all time?

Rupert Graves: Five are not enough, but here are five I like listening to:
Blackstar - Radiohead
Prettiest Star - David Bowie
Charming Man - The Smiths
I'm On A Plane - Nirvana
Hell Is Round The Corner - Tricky.

Christina from San Francisco asks:
I recently read an article with Catherine Deneuve saying that she only speaks "movie Russian", how about you...do you only speak movie Latin and Italian?

Rupert Graves: Yes I do.

Brendan Kailer Lieb from New York City:
I recently saw the revival of "The Elephant Man" on Broadway.
It was a strange production in that the aspects of the original text, which at times were very Brecht-like in structure, were magnified by this production to the point where we as an audience felt quite distant from the characters.
I was wondering why the director chose this approach and how as actors you justified the very stylized staging ?

Rupert Graves: It's written in a very Brechtian way. There's a lot of public addressing. I think the director needed to create a production which was his own and unlike the original.

Jeff Moore from Escondido USA:
Have you ever thought about starting your own theatrical company ?

Rupert Graves: It would be very nice to have your own theatrical company, but I'm not a very good manager. It is something I'd like to do one day, perhaps.

Claudette from Belgium:
Rupert would you like to make a film directed by Lynch or Polanski ?

Rupert Graves: I haven't seen a recent Polanski film, but I love David Lynch and would love to work with him.

Jamie from New Jersey:
Was there ever a role you badly wanted but didn't get, and during the shooting of which film do you think that learned a lot as an actor and why?

Rupert Graves: As far as roles go, there must've been, but I can't remember anything in particular. If I don't get things I put them out of my mind. In regard to learning, I suppose my first film - Room With A View - because I'd never done a film before and was working with people like Maggie Smith. It was trial by fire, my steepest learning curve.

Mary Ellen Walsh from Lakewood:
Since you starred in at least three movies with Helena Bonham Carter, is she one of your favorite actors/actresses to work with?

Rupert Graves: I really like working with Helena. We have a nice complicity. She was in the first film I did and the second film I did, and I've enjoyed working with her very much. I've done four films with her (she also had a small part in Maurice).

Rachel Dear from New York:
Twenty years later, what's your take on the film, Maurice and your performance as Alec Scudder ?

Rupert Graves: I haven't seen it for 20 years, but I enjoyed doing it. I'd quite like to see it again.

Trudy Poet in New York:
Rupert, do you enjoy our literary discussions on the message board ?

Rupert Graves: I do when I have the time to read them, they can be very interesting.

From David Watt:
Which Hollywood great from the classic 30s to 50s period would you most like to have acted alongside and which favourite role from a film of this period would you like to play in a remake?

Rupert Graves: Spencer Tracy and Marlon Brando, an English actor called Robert Donat. Philip Marlow is the part I would like to play, in any of the Chandler adaptations.

Jasmine Rouf from Dorset:
Dear Mr Graves, there is a commonly known adage that says "you cant put a price on love" but there is another saying that "everything has a price." So if you could put a price on love how much would it be?

Rupert Graves:I go completely with the first adage - you can't put a price on love. There's nothing I'd rather have than love.

Lori from Boston, USA:
How do you keep your stage performance fresh, playing the same role night after night? And do you change aspects of it based on the audience's reaction, either during a performance or from night to night?

Rupert Graves: You keep it fresh by trying to play the truth. If you're doing a comedy and nobody laughs ever, it would be a good indication that you're doing something wrong and should change it. Although you create a performance and a character, the great thing about theatre is about how you feel and how everyone else feels on that moment. You try and create an energy.

Carol Martin from Melbourne, Australia asks:
Dear Rupert, do you read all your reviews, or have you had someone to vet them for you like Yvonne in the past. Nobody likes criticism. It must be very frustrating when you feel that you have done good work and some writer demolishes you in a few flippant sentences, and how do you view your career, as journalists often say you've never fulfilled that early promise, but I don't think Hollywood should be used as a benchmark for success I'm sure you and James Wilby will both have a knighthood by the time your 60 !

Rupert Graves: If I read reviews, I read them after the play has finished. If I get a good review, it can make me conceited and if I get a bad review I can try and accommodate what the writer might have said, but I can't be sure the writer might've necessarily understood what we were trying to achieve. An awful lot of reviewing (not the good reviewing) is based upon personal prejudice.

As far as my career goes - I'm happy that I've been able to do what I wanted to do for as long as I did. I think I've made some good ones and some bad ones but on balance I've wanted to do most of them. I've learnt a lot and I've fucked up a lot and I've forgotten a lot. I'm lucky I've been able to make a living out of something I want to do. I'm happy in other words.

Jessica Flores from New York:
I thought the film "Different for Girls" was great and I was wondering if you thought that a man who was always heterosexual falls in love with a "woman" who was once a man,would be considered gay.

Rupert Graves: I don't know. I think his character worried that he was gay, and didn't feel like he was gay. It depends on how much you believe in the abilities people have to cross gender. If you believe that it is possible, then he's not gay. Some people will still think they're gay.

Rosie Smith from Manhattan:
I always wonder what you're thinking of during that brilliant scene in Dreaming of Joseph Lees when you talk about the loss of his leg?

Rupert Graves: I was trying to put myself in Joseph Lees' position. I went to a hospital which dealt with people who lost limbs, and spoke to people. I remember being told by one of the nurses that you suffer a sort of grief - like part of you has died - and I used that.

Stephen James from Delaware:
Rupert, apart from being totally impressed with your undoubted skills, I'm also impressed with your website, which as you probably know is run in a highly professional and courteous manner. My question is: Do you plan, like many other actors to charge for use of the website in future, such as membership fees, and do you think this is morally right, seeing how all fans already contribute to a star's wealth via cinema, video sales etc ?

Rupert Graves: Paul set the website up, and I think he's doing a fantastic job. We had a chat and it was made official, and I totally support it. He makes all the decisions regarding the running of the website. We both agree that we like the site's accessibility, and there won't be any charge.

Joan from The USA:
What kind of a director do you like to work with? One who gives VERY specific instructions, or one who lets the actors really experiment with the writing ?

Rupert Graves: I like directors who give very specific instructions if they really know what they're doing. the ones I really prefer are people who enable or encourage the actors to create themselves, but I love having good direction. I think it's vital for actors to have a director. It's just such a great thing to have a trained and creative eye on what you're doing and I love the feedback, if it's good.

Isabel from Florida USA:
Are there any American actors or actresses that you feel has great potential, and although you have watched many British films, I am sure that you have watched many American films as well. What are your favorite American films ?

Rupert Graves: Yeah, hundreds of them, loads. There are some fantastic actors in America, and Ivans XTC was the last great film I saw. Dumbo is a classic. On The Waterfront, Blue Velvet I love. Godfather with Al Pacino. These are among my favourites, but there really are so many.

Marissa from The USA:
What American director would you not mind working with, and I have seen you in different types of movies. Would you ever consider making a science fiction or fantasy movie, like The Matrix or Lord of the Rings? I really think you would be great in one ?

Rupert Graves: David Lynch, Tim Burton, Stephen Soderbergh, again there are so many, and yes, I'd love to do a science fiction film.

Mary Ellen Walsh from New Jersey:
Rupert, if you hadn't entered the entertainment field, what do you think you would be doing now?

Rupert Graves: I'd like to have been a primatologist, but I don't really know.

Sue Turner from Essex:
Have had to put up with my friends over the pond banging on about "The Elephant Man", I'm gagging to see you on stage, Have you any plans to tread the boards in the UK anytime soon? Just have to add that you are a joy to watch!

Rupert Graves: Not specifically at the moment but I do try and do one play every year.

Ant from New York:
I've always admired your great work and tremendous artistry. It seems like the greats have ventured into the superhero arena, like Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart to name a couple. Would you consider doing this type of role, and would you be the hero or the villain ?

Rupert Graves: I'd love to do anything with incredible powers, and I don't mind heroes or villains. On balance, a villain in those big movies is probably more fun.

Brighid Rose from Scotland asks:
Rupert, which role, stage or screen, has affected you the most? I mean which role has changed you or left the deepest impression on you or taught you the most, and what was that due to e.g. the character you portrayed/ the story itself/ the people you worked with? Long winded question, I know -sorry!

Rupert Graves: Physically - Hurlyburly taught me how far I could go physically on stage. I was pretty exhausted at the end of it - mentally too. 'Tis Pity She's A Whore at The National taught me how to act when despite giving a bad performance ( which was a big lesson in mind over matter ) . Midsummer Nights Dream, directed by Robert Lepage taught me to trust subconscious elements and that they not only can be entertaining but breathtaking. Working with people like Miranda Richardson taught me to take risks. In every job you learn something.

Christina from San Francisco:
If you had a film offered to you that was short on character and story but was going to be the summer blockbuster that would propel anyone in it to worldwide stardom, would you do it?

Rupert Graves: Absolutely, totally, but it would depend if I thought there was something that I could do with it.

Natalie Keeble from Essex, United Kingdom:
Was your lifetime ambition always to be an actor, or did a life changing experience cause you to change the direction of your career ?

Rupert Graves: I wanted to be an actor when i was about four and I played an elf. I had green tights on. I took my green tights down i saw myself, I pulled the green tights up and I saw an elf. I thought that was magical. I can't remember really seriously considering doing anything else.

Hila from Brazil:
I'm 35 and sometimes I catch myself thinking about what I'll be doing within 10 years, when I am 45. Have you ever thought about this stuff ? What do you hope to be doing? I mean, personally and professionally?

Rupert Graves: Carry on with my groove.

Linda from Maryland, USA:
I love your work. Which makes me wonder, did you study any particular technique to strengthen your acting, and also did you have any crushes on any American actress ?

Rupert Graves: No. I just tried to learn through experience, and apart from Britney Spears, The Charlie's Angels and Marilyn Monroe - no.

Michael Jickells from Norwich, United Kingdom:
What would be your dream role, and why?

Rupert Graves: Caligula, I've always wanted to do it.

Catherina Maloney from Temple Hills:
When are you gonna do an American flick? Do you think our films stink? I mentioned it in a letter to get that gorgeous photo of yours. You don't got a "face like a sponge". I guess I'd like to see you "cross over" as did the others, Rupert Everett and Hugh Grant. You look better than those two, by the way.

Rupert Graves: I really think you make some of the best movies in the world. It's just hard for an English actor to get jobs over there, especially if you haven't lived there (which I haven't). If I got offered an American film and it was good, I would do it. Some of the best films are American.

Trevor Anderson from Southampton:
Is there any change of having a fans meeting, a live chat one day when you are not too busy ?

Rupert Graves: Often when you do plays there's discussions afterwards which is a good way of meeting people who enjoy your work and enjoy the play and theatre.

Michael Blight from Salt Lake City:
Did you really do the voiceover for The Simpson's superbowl episode ?

Rupert Graves: Yeah. ( I wish ).

Martin from London:
Rupert, was that a real kiss in Maurice, and was it difficult to do ?

Rupert Graves: All kisses are difficult to do as you're kissing someone you don't know. After you get over that, it wasn't more difficult because it was James. I know some actors probably wouldn't want to do that, but it's part of your job.

Brad Anderson from Hurst, Texas:
What is the Pre-Raphaelite Seahorse Club and how did you once become its president ?

Rupert Graves: Oops, I've been found out! That was all a big lie on my part, I was doing an interview some time ago, and for some inane reason I decided to add it in.

Tammi R from Golden Colorado:
Would you ever consider lending your voice to an animated character, i.e. a Disney or any other full length animated film ?

Rupert Graves: Yeah - I love good animated films. I'd love to.

Prof.Soubhi Nayal from Toronto, Canada:
I have a tendency to use the latest modern technologies in directing plays whether they are modern or classics. In your own point of view as a renowned prominent actor , do you think such an action will add an noticeable amount of advantage to the play or it will belittle the efficiency of the major actors in the play ?

Rupert Graves: The actors job is to use whatever is there. Tell the actor what you're doing beforehand and they can use it too. It sounds interesting to me. I love Robert Lepage's stuff, for example. He uses old and new stuff. Anything that brings a play to life is viable, I think.

Benjamin from New York:
You've worked with some top-shelf actors during your career and no doubt learned a lot from many of them. What do you think many of your co-stars have learned from you about acting ?

Rupert Graves: I really don't know. You'd have to ask them.
My Elephant Man co-stars learnt how to swear the English way.

©2002 Rupert Graves Online.


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