“I’d say ‘Living’ is harder,” admits Bill Nighy when asked whether it’s more challenging to portray an emotionally repressed man, like his character in “Living,” as opposed to portraying someone who is carefree and uninhibited. For our recent webchat he adds, “the way that I do it, it’s quite physical because you have to hold yourself still and tight and you have to squeeze out the voice and you are forever uptight. That’s quite exhausting!” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Living” is directed by South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus from a screenplay by acclaimed novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Remains of the Day”). It was adapted from the 1952 Akira Kurosawa-directed “Ikiru,” which in turn was inspired by the 1886 Russian novella “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by novelist Leo Tolstoy. Set in 1950s London, Nighy stars as Mr. Williams, a stiff upper-lip bureaucrat facing the final months of his life after being suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness. His devastating news inspires him to leave London and start living for the moment. He bonds with young female colleague Miss Harris (Aimee Lou Wood), who encourages him to pursue his passions before it is too late.
“My phone has been on fire with messages from people I haven’t heard from for 25 years,” Nighy reveals about the overwhelmingly positive response that audience appear to be having about the film. “Somebody phoning up saying, ‘I can’t get into the cinema,’ this makes my heart go boom. This is what you want to hear. This is a film about a guy who gets a disastrous news. But you know, nobody’s carrying a gun, nobody takes their top off. I offered to take knife top off, but they said to put it back on,” he jokes. “But they all say the same thing, which is that they feel galvanized by it. They’re inspired by it. They come out the cinema and they want to get things done. They want to do that thing they were putting off forever,” he says about the feedback he keeps hearing about the film’s central premise. “It’s uplifting, and in part it’s the cleverness of the mechanism. As with the original film, it’s beautifully constructed in order to deliver that.”
Nighy has recently received nominations at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. He seems destined to receive a first ever career Oscar bid.
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