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2014 - Turks & Caicos / Salting The Battlefield Press Release.

Author: Staff Writer.
Publication: Carnival Films / BBC Worldwide.

Who do you play?

According to the story Stirling Rogers is an old friend of the prime minister. He is setting up a charitable foundation that the prime minister will use to finance his future once he leaves politics. In this future he will be a good will ambassador and go to troubled areas around the world.

Did you base Stirling on anyone in the real world?

I have based him on a few people I’ve met but not any one particular person. From speaking to high-level businessmen I’ve tried to work out what his psyche might be and what his attitudes to people, money and life in general might be.

How do you portray a character like that?

I’ve found out that you don’t get to that position without being right a lot of the time. A lot of people who are very successful in business also don’t seem to be too imaginative. They seem to be fairly pragmatic people so I tried to access all that.

How does Stirling Rogers come up against Johnny Worricker?

Johnny Worricker finds out that part of my charitable foundation is financed by guys who have made their money from the American government - specifically by building secret detention camps as part of the ‘ war on terror ’, however , it’s completely off the radar. This money is bad money, and if the truth came out it would be like opening a can of worms. Johnny Worricker unearths this and is going to go public with it. Stirling is part of a plot to keep him quiet. This starts with an attempt to pay him off and then as the story progresses things get more complicated.

Tell us about the character Margot Tyrell.

Margot is an analyst for Stirling’s company. She came from MI5 and is very good at her job. She left a difficult relationship with Johnny Worricker and her job with the secret service to come and work for him and she’s also very beautiful. I would say my character is on the cusp of falling in love with her.

What did you think when you were told you’d be filming in Turks & Caicos?

It’s a plus, but to be honest I’d have done it anywhere, any place . It’s a great script and I loved Page Eight . I made a film with David Hare a long time ago and I’ve always enjoyed his plays very much. So yes filming in Turks & Caicos is just an added bonus.

Why do you think people responded so well to Page Eight ?

British cinema hadn’t made an espionage film in the style of a European thriller in a long time. When I say European I mean it’s smart, its got a lot of class and it’s elegantly told. It drags you so beautifully along into the story and I think people appreciate not being treated as simpletons. It has a regal , classic elegance to it.

What do you enjoy most about the dialogue?

David’s dialogue is always loaded and absolutely fraught with meaning. You have to be very exact and clear with it. You have to do your homework because it ’s so loaded it can sound lumpy, but that’s what I love about it - once you understand it it’s like turning a key. Every line is like a springboard of thought and feeling. For an actor; it’s almost like being a musician who’s played boring pop music forever and then suddenly finding a great piece of music to play. It’s thrilling.

Where do we meet Stirling Rogers in this story and how does it progress?

We meet him in his office and we see a little glimpse of his relationship with Margot. Margot takes an interest in the charitable foundation that supports the Prime Minister. Stirling asks Margot to come out to Turks & Caicos where he’s running a meeting for dignitaries from around the world.

What do Bill and David do to make it more than your average spy thriller?

I think Bill carries a loaded morality, and that makes a good character and a good point. There is a worldliness about Johnny because he has seen terrible things. I suppose that’s the tradition of spies, because they’re out in the cold as lone wolves they develop a very strong ability to be on their own.

What is Stirling’s relationship with Margot?

She kind of plays me. She brings me up against Johnny Worricker but she wants Johnny to win. I think my character isn’t used to losing or being wrong. He falls for her charms and doesn’t realise it until it’s too late. I’ve known Helena for years, since we did Room with a View together which was twenty eight years ago!
Most of my scenes in this are with her, which was lovely.

What do you think Stirling’s downfall is?

I guess for high flyers it’s like a game of chess. Really I think vanity is his problem. I suppose he’d have no reason in his own mind why a beautiful woman wouldn’t fancy him.

What was it like to work with Christopher Walken?

The fact that Christopher Walken was on set just made me bloom inside! It was wonderful. I was watching him and he’s the most unpredictable actor, a real genius. I genuinely felt privileged to be in the same room watching him act. We did a big ten-page scene that took us a day and a half. We were five guys and two girls sitting around in a front room just talking, and one of them was Christopher Walken. I learned a lot just from watching him. Freedom and relaxation, cheek, but none of this comes easily. He works hard and he doesn’t ever blow his lines.

Who can you trust in these stories?

One of the many interesting and complex themes that David’s picked up on in his films is the idea of trust. On a very broad level we’re talking about rendition and the stories that we were told about going into war with Iraq. They have subsequently proven not to be completely true. I suppose one of the questions the films ask is what happens when your government lies to you? What does that do to you? Does it mean that you don’t have to be honest or noble yourself? There’s no good example set. This question is addressed in the film when Margot quotes Johnny, “If you live your life with trust you’ll probably end up doing the right thing.” It’s a good moral code to follow.

Would you say a lot of the content is a direct reflection of real life?

I think if the public don’t trust those who govern, they develop a low level residual anger. I think David touches on this. I guess it’s also a call for him to say, ‘let’s not take this lying down, let’s remember and make it an issue that should be debated!’

Tell us about Salting The Battlefield ?

Turks & Caicos ends on a cliff hanger with Margot and Johnny going on the run. The next film Salting The Battlefield picks up their journey. They’re trailing around Europe with their story of how the prime minister’s future is going to be funded by ill-gotten gains. The film explores what the establishment does to stop him and how the machinery of getting somebody back from exile works.

©2014 Carnival films / BBC Worldwide.

Co-Star Helena Bonham Carter on Rupert Graves:

Rupert and I go way back to A Room with a View, which was a film I made 28 years ago and we played brother and sister. I’ve never played opposite him romantically and I’m still unsure if there’s a romance between Margot and Stirling. The thing about Rupert is that he’s so fundamentally good as a person. It’s really good to see him play someone who’s slightly dodgy. He’s so observant as an actor.
©2014 Carnival films / BBC Worldwide.

Director and writer David Hare on Rupert Graves:

Rupert is an actor who I’ve met before. He was in Damage, which I wrote for Louis Malle in 1991. He was always this prodigiously good-looking, charming young man who won the hearts of everybody around him. But I’ve always thought that he was a much weightier actor than he was allowed to be. I’ve particularly longed to shave his hair off! Now that it’s so distinguished and greying he’s this wonderful silver fox.

I’ve just revealed him for what he really is: a really great, serious actor. It’s just so great to rob him of his boyish charm! You can give him any piece of direction and he can do it on the spot.
That for me is always wonderful because then you’re in collaboration and a partnership.
©2014 Carnival films / BBC Worldwide.