Risen: the Joseph Fiennes interview round-up (2016/2/16)

Risen: the Joseph Fiennes interview round-up (2016/2/16) February 16, 2016

My interview | The Rome Q&A | Round-ups: Jan 18 | Jan 29 | Feb 8 | Feb 12 | Feb 18

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Risen had its premiere in Dallas last night, and Joseph Fiennes was there. A few more interviews with him have surfaced too. So, it’s time for another round-up!

First, the print or text interviews.

Fiennes talked to The Toronto Sun about his military prep for the film:

“And then there was a week of gladiator school in Rome. They are what’s called ‘physical archeologists.’ They collect all the information, any copy from murals, frescos, whatever, that depicts military aspects of Roman times.

“And so you saw the Testudo, the tortoise formation at the beginning of the film. The depiction here is the first time on film. They didn’t waste time, like the Germans or the Celts or the Brits, with two-handed slashing swords. When they went into battle you’d only see one move, a stab, and they’d disappear onto the next guy, and they’d leave you there. They wouldn’t bother killing and slashing, they were surgeons.

“So Clavius is absolutely analytical and professional. And when he’s called in to deal with this obvious hoax, he thinks methodically. And all his strategy and training and conditioning is going to butt up against something completely unexpected.”

Fiennes and his co-star Tom Felton talked to USA Today about the detective-story side of the film:

“When I read it, I was surprised up until about page 30 or 40 that it turned out to be a biblical story,” Fiennes says. “It felt like a man, not unlike (the Jake Gittes character in) Chinatown, who’s sucked into an investigation that’s beyond his capabilities, and I loved that concept as a way in.” . . .

“What’s nice about this one is it captivates the non-religious as much as it does the religious,” Felton says. “In fact, I’m not sure which side will be more compelled, because it really is a standalone, detective-adventure film. It just so happens that it has the backdrop of the most famous story ever told.”

Fiennes talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the importance of doubt:

What do you hope translates about where Clavius is by the end of Risen?

There was a lot of discussion about the journey of Clavius because there was another film with Richard Burton called The Robe where it all becomes very old-fashioned, and it’s evangelical beyond belief and it just didn’t ring true. That narrative only travels at most maybe a week past the resurrection. I always felt I couldn’t believe that someone changes so vehemently in a week, especially someone with the nature and sharpness of Clavius — he’s so deeply conditioned as a military tribune.

So without sitting on the fence, he should be left at a crossroads where he knows he can’t go back. He’s divorced pretty much from the Roman army and his father figure Pontius Pilate, and now he’s entertaining a theological father figure. But he has doubt, which is such an everyman component. Even if the resurrection had been served on a plate and he witnessed it first-hand, he still carries doubt. I think that’s important because we’re all on this search, in some way, shape or form. Whether you’re a high-ranking priest or just a guy on the street, we all share that beautiful, infallible condition of doubt. I loved that component.

He talked to Christianity Today about his character’s relationship with Pilate:

It seems like a really important relationship for your character is with Pilate, as kind of a mentor—or maybe a more contentious relationship.

That’s a good point. He is a father figure. I always thought of story as a detective story about a man disengaging his “father” (Pilate) and being adopted by the greater father.

That was another way in for me: this agnostic going through a huge change (mental, physical, spiritual) because of what he’s witnessed, then divorcing himself from his family and being adopted by a new family. So the father figure, I had always thought, is a wonderful component and Pilate instilled that. It still took a Roman army. It’s all about the hierarchy of the Roman army as a family, what you aspire to. And ambition is something to look up to, not something to be embarrassed by, when you get a little bit into the movie. I love that. I love that he had to recalibrate, and embrace a different philosophy, a different perspective.

He also talked about the upcoming The Last Race, in which he plays Eric Liddell:

The most amazing, interesting thing about [The Last Race] is that it’s filmed by a Chinese-production-company-turned-director. Here’s China, taking on a big Christian hero; it’s so diametrically opposed. It will be hugely controlled: there will be cuts and editing and shots according to the party rule. You can’t make a film without the party members giving it the green light. It’s hard enough making a film anyway, but then throw it that, and you’re really up against it as a sort of voice, a creative voice.

Clearly there’s a huge Christian movement in China. That was a big surprise to me . . . Very interesting, but very interesting that a Communist country has embraced and allowed [the story of] Eric Liddell to be told. I know it’s partly because they thought that he has been born in China and they feel that was an Olympic hero but it’s very interesting. . . .

Do you feel like playing Clavius affected you on a spiritual level in any way?

I felt what it did was it made me tune in and become aware and receptive to a part of me that, at a deep level, needs to be reawakened. But playing Eric Liddell followed onto playing Clavius. Maybe I looked at Eric Liddell with greater intensity because of where I had just come from with Clavius, so I felt a greater receptiveness towards it, and to the story of Eric. That episode did have an effect on me. I felt very connected.

Sometimes as an actor you connect or you don’t connect or you struggle to connect or you connect a bit, but you’re always trying in some way to become completely immersed in the best way by your character. Sometimes it’s a struggle and sometimes you get it for free. So I felt both with Clavius and especially with Eric Liddell that I had this relationship that was much more engaging than I had with other characters. I feel alerted and shifted through the material with the characters.

Next, the video interviews.

Fiennes spoke to Good Morning Texas this morning:

CBN News ran this story based on interviews that happened several months ago with Fiennes, Felton, Affirm Films SVP Rich Peluso and producer Mickey Liddell:

CBN News also posted this more-recent interview with Fiennes:

Fiennes was also interviewed by Raymond Arroyo for EWTN’s World Over:

Some new (or new to me, at least) videos from the cast and crew’s visit to Rome have surfaced, too, such as this clip from a press conference:

Fiennes was interviewed along with co-star Maria Botto (who plays Mary Magdalene) and producer Pete Shilaimon in a video posted by Celebified:

Latino Review, via Celebified, has also posted these interviews with Fiennes and Cliff Curtis (who plays Jesus, and makes an interesting point — with regard to Jesus’ relative lack of dialogue — about showing love rather than talking about it):

Finally, MovieWeb has this collection of soundbites from the electronic press kit, some of which you may have seen or heard already in some of the film’s featurettes:

AARP posted this one-minute video that uses some of the Fiennes soundbites, as well as a soundbite from Tom Felton’s EPK video:

Fiennes was also interviewed on the red carpet in Dallas by Daystar Television.

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