Risen: the Joseph Fiennes interview round-up (2016/2/18)

Risen: the Joseph Fiennes interview round-up (2016/2/18) February 18, 2016

My interview | The Rome Q&A | Round-ups: Jan 18 | Jan 29 | Feb 8 | Feb 12 | Feb 16


Risen opens in theatres tonight, and Joseph Fiennes did a lot of press around the New York premiere yesterday, so it’s time for one last interview round-up.

Fiennes told Metro he was proud of the film for casting a non-white Jesus:

You also have a non-white Jesus, which is still rare in film and TV.
No, he’s not Caucasian. I feel like nobody’s really mentioned this. I mean, there’s such a furor with the Oscars — and I’m not going to wade into any of that — but just in terms of casting, yes this is a big step forward just in terms of getting the casting right and moving away from the golden, blue-eyed boy and delivering the right type of casting. It’s brilliant. I’m really proud of that.

He spoke to The Chicago Sun-Times about the film’s effect on his own thoughts about faith:

“I think faith is a big component of many people’s lives and this film really deals with that,” said the actor. For me, the big take-away is when Clavius meets Christ on the cross — as he witnesses the resurrection. At the beginning you see he still has this seed of doubt about Christ’s divinity, but then we watch as he escapes from the trap of intellectualizing the question of faith. Clavius ultimately gets past the blockage and just goes with the greater consciousness that is the foundation of faith. I think that has been true for people all down through these two millenia.”

He spoke to The Fresno Bee about possible audience reactions to the film:

Fiennes believes audience members – religious or not – will be able to understand how much we like to philosophize and intellectualize while dealing with new ideas.

He has an idea of how the public will react to the movie.

“Certainly, the more conservative will say, ‘don’t see it. It flies in the face of scriptures. It’s revisionist.’ Then you get the other side, which say it is preachy. It’s Sunday school,” Fiennes says. “But I get a sense that everyone in the room will enjoy a wonderful film.”

He spoke to The Christian Post about getting into the “Roman mindset”:

The film’s “Roman mindset” was also fascinating, Fiennes says. “The philosophy, the bared sense of religion and gods and warfare.” Clavius often prays to Mars, the god of war, for help in locating Christ’s body.

He spoke to The National Post about the character’s personal mindset:

“I really felt like (Clavius) was a man at the end of his career,” he says. “He was done with the industry of death. He was possibly suffering post traumatic stress in some ways, but he wants to find the truth.”

He spoke to amNewYork about the film’s possible marketing appeal:

When you took on this film, even though you’re an actor, did you think if it would be a challenge to market a film like this to a broad audience?

They’ve taken a completely different lens and it takes the stigma and weight off of it being a story of faith. It unravels and becomes that, but I don’t think it was so much of a challenge, because when I read the script I didn’t think I was reading a story like that at all. That element is a lovely way in. It’s not aggressively challenging the audience.

Fiennes also spoke to News Corp Australia, the Christian Examiner, the Ahwatukee Foothills News and the Backstage Pass blog here at Patheos.

Next, the video interviews.

Fiennes spoke to AOL BUILD in a video that doesn’t seem to be embeddable.

Fiennes told Collider that his favorite “biblical epic” is Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, which is actually not based on a biblical story at all:

Fiennes and Cliff Curtis (who plays Jesus) also spoke to ComingSoon.net:

Fiennes spoke to Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on Today:

And he spoke to the hosts of NBC’s New York Live:

Older junket interviews have surfaced, too. Fiennes told We Got This Covered that the scene in which Clavius rubs his hands on a rosemary plant was inspired by the fact that modern-day detectives smoke to get away from the stench of death:

He also spoke to Fox 4 in Kansas City:

And he spoke to the team from King 5 in Seattle, as well:

Fiennes also did podcast interviews with Todd Starnes and Mike Gallagher.

And Behind the Velvet Rope spoke to Fiennes on the red carpet last night:

Joseph Fiennes joins us to chat about his new movie Risen Movie, telling the story of #JesusChrist from a non-believer's stand point, his upcoming role as Michael Jackson and more!

Posted by Behind The Velvet Rope on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Update: Fiennes also gave a lengthy interview to The Eric Metaxas Show:

February 19 update: Fiennes spoke to Sojourners about the film:

JF: . . . I just think that angle stops it being too head-on for people and then it grows out of that. Just getting a glimpse of Jesus makes us want to get there again and see it again. It’s kind of like in our lives … it’s kind of like faith is strong one day and it’s weak the next. We’re visited and it disappears…it’s not full-on.

JV: Yes! How could anyone actually live that way?!? (laughs)

JF: Yeah — how could you? How could you? Exactly! It’s question and doubt. I think it’s like a wonderful piece of music. It’s in focus, and out, and the orchestra plays another part and other kind of emotions evolve. And I think Kevin’s [Reynolds, director] both design and camera movement — very wide in some sense and very close in others. It just allows us to breathe and have that conversation as we’re watching it. I’m riffing a bit. But yeah, it’s that unique angle which somehow works.

He also spoke to the Religion News Service (via Washington Post):

“I think the idea of being carried through the narrative of Christ, from his Crucifixion to the Resurrection and the Ascension, through the eyes of nonbeliever allows us to come at this from a soft angle,” said Joseph Fiennes, the British actor who plays unbeliever Clavius in “Risen.” ‘’Clavius represents the everyman. We’re all on a hunt, theological or not. We’re all on some form of investigation or discovery.”

He also spoke to another reporter from The Christian Post:

Fiennes admittedly revealed that he’s on his own spiritual journey and it’s constantly changing. He says this film provides a safe platform for every man to look at the Gospel account through the eyes of a doubter.

“I love the component that he might be in every man for people to hang their own position of faith on him or look at that conversation through him. Here’s a man that gets to witness the resurrection first hand and then the next day he says to Peter when they’re on their journey in Galilee, ‘Maybe it was a trick? Does he have a twin brother?’ He can’t shut off this intellectual noise and I think that’s true of a lot of us and I think that noise, maybe there’s another word for it. Maybe it’s doubt and it’s something that we’re all subject to,” said the actor.

And he spoke to Guide Live:

“Although [Clavius is] a fictional character, nevertheless we know that a high-ranking official must have been there [at the crucifixion]. What gave the film momentum, to me, was the detective story. As the events unfold, Clavius’ conditioning begins to falter, and I love that aspect.”

Several new video interviews have come along too, e.g. Zap2it:

He also spoke to Screen Rant:

And he spoke to Fox & Friends (in two parts):

February 20 update: Fiennes told the Associated Press it is “great” to be part of the Bible-movie “legacy” now, and he talked about his favorite movie Jesuses:

Fiennes cites actors Robert Powell and Ted Neeley as some of his favorites who have played Jesus.

Powell starred in the Franco Zeffirelli film “Jesus of Nazareth,” and Neeley had the title role in the film version of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Yet, Fiennes thinks Cliff Curtis, who plays the Jesus role in “Risen” has the edge over the others.

He also spoke to Nell Minow, the “Movie Mom”, at Beliefnet:

In many ways he is in every man that despite the fact that he is charged by Pontius Pilate to oversee the death of Christ via crucifixion which is a pretty appalling thing to be a part of, which also was the first question for me when I read the script: how can I get an audience to come along with me when they witness this ghastly event?

I felt that I had to reach for a thread that they could connect to, which might be an integrity. So he is a man who is dutiful, and as much as he is charged with these things by his boss that he might not want to do because he is so exhausted, if he has an honesty about him, if he is dutiful, I thought at least that is something an audience could get with.

And he did a podcast interview with The Church Boys at TheBlaze.com, in which he talked about how his wife mistook Tom Felton for him on the movie’s set:

February 23 update: Fiennes also spoke to EuroNews, which combined his quotes with a soundbite we’ve already seen from co-star Maria Botto:

And Entertainment Tonight aired this clip from the film’s New York premiere:

February 24 update: Fiennes spoke to Charisma News on the red carpet:

Was there any trepidation with tackling a story about Christ? Did you anticipate pushback? It’s sometimes a tricky thing to portray.

A narrative like this is tough for people to digest. They don’t see the importance of it. I truly think if you can be riveted by transformers, you’re going to be pretty riveted by this. So there’s a part of me that goes, “I can’t second guess myself. I have to go with my stomach.” I’m aware that this could be tabbed as a religious movie. I’m aware that the faith-based community is really very supportive. I haven’t heard from the center file group so much yet, so we’ll see what happens when reviews come out. For me, it’s a powerful mystery, and I’m happy to take the bullet for it. If it’s something where people don’t want to employ me because I only do religious movies, then so be it. I think it’s beyond that and beyond me.

Talk about the journey that Clavius takes in this film. It’s a big change.

I always felt that if a 20-something actor played this, I don’t know if I would believe he’s ready for change. (But Clavius) is ready for change. He doesn’t know, but he’s at the end of his career. He’s done with the industry of death and warfare. He wants out. He wants to get to the senate. He’s spiritual in that he prays to Mars and he’s engaged in a spiritual level. He’s quietly prepped, even as a nonbeliever, to be possibly part of God’s plan. I love that idea that he ferries these men out through this gulley away from men who want to put them to death. If he didn’t do that, the word wouldn’t get out. I love that he might have been, even at the cross, he might have been part of the plan. We can all live together, whether you’re a believer, an agnostic, a nonbeliever, we’re all part of the mystery and I love that component that he is part of it, and he thinks he’s investigating, and he doesn’t know that he’s probably being investigated too.

February 26 update: Context with Lorna Dueck released a one-minute preview of a Skype chat with Fiennes that will apparently go live at Easter, a month from now:

Joseph Fiennes on Meeting Pope Francis

Joseph Fiennes, star of the Risen Movie screening in theatres now, got to meet the Pope and get his blessing for the film. The movie tells the story of the resurrection of Christ from the eyes of a skeptical Roman soldier. Look out for our full interview with Joseph on Easter Weekend.

Posted by Context with Lorna Dueck on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fiennes and Botto are also quoted in a story at GhanaWeb.

March 5 update: Fiennes spoke to The Independent in the UK:

Risen was filmed on locations in Malta and Spain, and, in the swarthy Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis, has found a better match for Jesus’s Middle Eastern origins than previous blue-eyed blond incarnations.

“The temperatures in Malta at that time were brutal and there were extras who were over 80 years old. I don’t know how they did it. But the set was so authentic, you couldn’t help thinking, ‘Wow, this could really be Judea’.”

Raised on a diet of Monty Python, Fiennes says he and fellow Brit Tom Felton came close to cracking up at moments.

“Of course there was that British humour circling about, but swiftly there was a sense that we were bringing an authenticity to this story. Working under a veteran like Kevin, there’s a great discipline and you’re invited to really get under the skin of the piece. Working with actors like Peter Firth and Cliff Curtis, they’re all fully charged to bring their A-game to the set.”

Fiennes also spoke to The Rita Cosby Show in the February 21 episode.

March 12 update: Fiennes spoke to the Irish website Movies.ie:

What did you think of ‘Risen’ when you finally saw it completed?
I loved the direction, the other actors, the production value… It was authentic and made me feel like I had been picked by the scruff of the neck and dropped off in Judea. And I thought the journey of Clavius was poignant and subtle, with a nice complex change. Nothing was over the top, and I believed it.

The film opens in the UK and many other countries this coming Friday, March 18.

March 15 update: Fiennes also spoke to New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz.

March 17 update: The soundbites in the video below — posted today by the Belfast Telegraph — may or may not be new, but just to be safe, here they are:

March 18 update: Fiennes spoke to HuffPostUK:

Joseph Fiennes, who describes himself as an atheist agnostic – “Lapsed? Yes. Flawed? Yes” – says he nevertheless finds it fascinating the idea that a rational man may find himself questioning everything he thought to be true.

“It’s a question of how deeply we are conditioned, and the chance to look at life through a different lens, breaking through our conditioning and all our knee-jerk reactions. I think those experiences transcend religion.

“Am I fallible? Yes. But I take on the worth and importance of asking these questions, a readiness to promote the conversation.

“How much do we need to witness something to believe in it? I feel like my character in the film is an Everyman in that regard.” . . .

“Regarding Clavius, it would make sense that he would have Celtic roots,” he explains on the subject of the Roman centurion’s relatively pale skin. “They were the roots of many a tribe in Judaea so it made sense to me.”

He also has a few soundbites in an unembeddable video at STV News.

March 20 update: Fiennes spoke to the Culver City Move Examiner:

Fiennes has many stand-out moments within “Risen”, particularly in scenes with Cliff Curtis and Steve Hagen. Hagen, who plays Bartholomew, adds lighter moments and light-hearted touches of wide-eyed wonderment and joy to “Risen” as he brings this 1960’s hippie-esque flower power feel to Bartholomew, which in turns elicits wonderful tacit facial expressiveness from Fiennes. The chemistry between Hagen and Fiennes is comfortable and easy, something Fiennes attributes to their prior work together. “I played Cyrano de Bergerac in a production and he played Christian, so there’s that love triangle between Christian, Cyrano and Roxanne, so we already had an affinity. . .we felt very comfortable with each other.”

Speaking of Stephen Hagan, this profile appeared on a Northern Ireland news site:

Explaining his role in the film, the 31-year-old actor said: “I play the role of Bartholomew, one of the Brotherhood of Apostles in Risen.

“The costume and make up helped bring the character to life. But the main thing for me was making him as normal as possible so that today’s audience could relate to the extreme situation he finds himself in.

“Shooting in desert and beach locations in Malta and Almeria in Spain brought the script to screen in the way that the producer and director had envisaged and without the use of computer-generated imagery. It made our job as actors much easier.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience – it would be impossible not to – it is an epic story told on an epic scale and I got to work with a very talented cast and a fantastic production team.”

If I find any more interviews with Fiennes, I will add them to this post.

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