Interview : Bill Pullman on Torchwood : Miracle Day
- Interview : Bill Pullman on Torchwood : Miracle Day
In the run up to the finale of the epic Torchwood mini-arc Miracle Day
we have interviews from the main cast which took place at San Diego
Comic-Con this July. We kick off with Bill Pullman who plays executed
child rapist and murderer Oswald Danes. Danes finds himself a media
darling after becoming an advocate for those who have gone beyond death.
*EOS : Actors often say that you never play a villain as a villain – how
did you manage this with Oswald Danes? Did you try to make him likeable?*
*BILL PULLMAN : * I never think of ‘likeable’, I think of value. How
does this character have value, how does this person value himself? And
you then throw the dice.
*EOS : Did you have any reservations about playing this character?*
BP: I should have, probably. I realised that in these movies about
paedophiles where they’re acting out their paedophilia on camera… I
didn’t know if I really wanted to do that. The fact that Oswald’s
transgression was before the camera came on, and that my issues are
different, I had all that baggage inside me so I had to kind of create
that inside myself and I had to kind of find that place to begin with.
Then I had to realise that I was given a chance to, like a phoenix, rise
again. But with baggage. And I liked that I always felt that Russell T.
Davies was invested in a personal way with Oswald Danes. I knew he
wasn’t saying “Ooo, I can write a bad guy”, he was like, “I can imagine
that side of myself”. Russell is a very respectful person, he sets this
great mood for the set. People who had been working in crews in LA for
thirty, forty years said it was the best working conditions they’d ever
had. And yet at the same time he’s aware of his anger, he’s aware of his
arrogance, and he owns it in a way, and /it/ sometimes rides him. I feel
like I have to be as truthful in the way I go about Oswald Danes as he
is about himself. He’s a vibrant person. Don’t tell him I said that.
*EOS : Are there layers to the character that we will see peeled away as
the series goes on?*
*BP : *Yeah, because my story is following one thing and there’s all
those other stories that.. I don’t care about (laughing). I’m a separate
person and then the stories start to fold into each other, and that’s a
tricky thing but it makes sense because of the connection with Jack
Harkness. There’s that one person who is like a mirror image or a Janus
face , the flipside of who you are, and when you meet that person you
get a sense of great intimacy and they can read you no matter how
disguised you are, and they can name you in a way that no-one else can.
When Jack and Oswald met it was like that.
*EOS : You’ve played a lot of diverse roles, what was it that made you
choose this one and how did you adapt to a darker kind of character?*
*BP :* Well what struck me when I was researching people who have these
‘appetites’ was that there’s often a disconnect with socialisation and I
had to realise how much of my whole body is engaged with socialising and
providing clues and cues to you that I’m likeable, that I’m friendly,
that I’m not a threat. It involves every muscle of your face. And with
certain people there’s a disconnect with that, and it’s not intentional,
and it has a scary side but it also has a wonderful side where you throw
off this fucking ‘obligation’ to be nice. It feels like you’ve been
swimming with a sweatshirt on and now you get to take it off.
EOS : What’s your abiding memory of John Barrowman on set?
*BP : *Stuff I can say now? (Laughs) I think my favourite memory…Now I
love John so much, he is an actor who loves all sides of what the job is
- one is to do the work and one is to sell the work and he loves both
sides. But there was a moment when we were on the Warner Bros. lot and
John had decided that he was going to ride back and forth from the
trailers on his big white bike, which had big fat tyres. He’d pedal down
and he’d wave at everyone and he would have such a great time, and there
was a day where we had to go down this alley where there’s a sound stage
where they were shooting the George Lopez Show, and Prince was going to
be on there. There were all these people lined up for Prince, and John
rode down on his big bike and screamed “Hello!” and the people were like
“Yes! Yes!” and I think that he thought they were there for him!
*EOS : Did you watch any of the previous episodes of Torchwood, prior to
*BP : *I watched ‘Children Of Earth’ and then I watched scattered parts
of the other stuff. I think the elegance of the simple premise is a
genius that he has – just stopping a simple component of the world.
That’s so simple that you wonder how other people haven’t thought of it.
/Additional reporting by Stephanie Gerk