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Javier Bardem had scads of makeup applied to his face for the newest “Pirates of the Caribbean.” [Courtesy photo/Walt Disney Studios]

Movie actors and directors had some cool stuff to say in 2017

One of the joys of journalism, particularly in covering the arts scene, is the satisfaction of sitting down to chat with creative subjects. Those people abound in the movie business, and in 2017, I had the pleasure of interviewing a range of folks on both sides of the camera who had a wide spectrum of age and experience between them. Flipping through my notes from those sessions, I picked out seven voices that had either the most interesting or the oddest things to say about their work or themselves. Here are some fragments from those interviews.

JAVIER BARDEM, 48. Captain Salazar in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales”

Q: You spent a lot of hours in the makeup chair for this film. What do you do during that time?

A: You go through many, many states, but I’ve been taught to be patient. I did a movie called “The Sea Inside,” where I had to stay still for makeup for five to six hours every day. That was a good baptism for something like this. When I know I’ll be going through a process of makeup, I’ll record all my notes so I can hear the script and the notes. But then I go through these different states: You curse, and you say you don’t want to do this anymore, then you leave and then you come back. Then they put a hair dryer on your face. Many things.

HARRISON FORD, 75. Rick Deckard in “Blade Runner 2049”

Q: Is it true that because of your conservationist activities, you’ve had a spider named after you?

A: A spider and an ant! The spider is Calponia harrisonfordi, and the ant is Pheidole harrisonfordi.

MCKENNA GRACE, 11. Mary in “Gifted”

Q: What made you want to start acting?

A: I love Shirley Temple, and I’ve always wanted to be like Shirley Temple. To be completely honest, I’ve also always wanted to be in the Pee-wee Herman show. And I’ve always wanted to meet him.

TOM HOLLAND, 21. Peter Parker/ Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Q: You do a lot of physical jumping around in the film. Did your dance and acrobatic background help with your stunts?

A: My dancing and gymnastics background was so helpful to this project because we were able to do things as Peter Parker that they probably hadn’t been able to do in the past. But that said, sometimes they would overestimate my skill set. [Director] Jon Watts would say, “Could you just backflip off that wall and land on that beat?” And I’d say, “No, Jon, I can’t do that! I’m not that good, dude.”

SAMUEL L. JACKSON, 69. Lt. Colonel Packard in “Kong: Skull Island”

Q: When did you first see the original “King Kong?”

A: I probably saw it on television. I was knocked out by movies, period. Movies always did that to me. I was trying to grow up and be Errol Flynn at one point. I wanted to jump from ship to ship, with a sword in my teeth. I saw “King Kong,” “Godzilla,” “Mothra,” all of that, to the point where when things like this movie comes across my desk, it’s a no-brainer. Somebody said to me, “It’s a movie called ‘Skull Island.’ ” I said, “What’s that?” “It’s a King Kong movie.” I said, “OK, I’m in.”

GUY RITCHIE, 49. director of “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”

Q: There’s a rumor that you finished a script for the sequel to your 2008 film “RocknRolla” a few years ago. Is it ever going to happen?

A: You’ll have to wait and see.

Q: Would you like to have it happen?

A: Yes, I would.

BILL SKARSGÅRD, 27. Pennywise the Dancing Clown in “It”

Q: What was your input on how scary your character was going to be?

A: When I was thinking about the concept of what scares ME, it’s like unpredictability that does it. So, when something happens, if you have explosiveness and quick changes, that’s very unsettling, and I wanted to incorporate that unpredictability but also have the character be almost like ... you know when you’re about to pop a balloon, and you have the tension of what’s about to happen? I wanted to incorporate that in the physicality of the role. It’s a thing that can be super explosive. That was important for the character, but the goofy weirdness in him was also important. I wanted to find the balance of something that’s kind of strange and off, but ultimately effective and scary.

— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.

 

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