Interview: Stephen Graham from "Blood"
Stephen Graham is one of those brilliant actors that you have seen in so many films including “Gangs of New York”, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, “Snatch.” and many more. He also is currently starring as Al Capone in HBO’s hit series “Boardwalk Empire. Needless to say Stephen has had a fantastic career and for fans of his you will enjoy seeing him in the recently released Blu Ray of his new film “Blood”. Stephen took the time to answer a few of Movie Room Reviews questions about the new film.
Nick Leyland from Movie Room Reviews: You've been in so many good movies, I don't even need to name them all. They're so amazing. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, “Boardwalk Empire” and all those other great movies and TV shows. You've had such a great career, so congratulations on that.
Stephen Graham: Oh, thank you.
MRR: Today we're gonna talk about this new thriller that just dropped on Blu-Ray on the 10th. It was out on VOD in early August, I believe. It's just now out on Blu-Ray. It's called Blood and you play Chrissie Fairburn, the brother of Joe, played by Paul Bettany and the son of Lenny played by Brian Cox. How does Chrissie fit into this family?
Stephen Graham: Chrissie is the younger brother and I look up to my older brother and he leads the way and it's that younger sibling syndrome where you aspire to be like your older brothers, you know what I mean? And he's got such a great record of what he does and he's known as a really great cop and I suppose I'm just trying to be like my older brother. But then there's a point where I realize that that's not how I wanna be. Do you know what I mean? When you reach that point, when you have someone on a pedestal and you look up to someone for so long and then all of a sudden you realize that they're just human as well, and they have their own flaws and stuff. So, I think that's where Chrissie kind of fits into that.
MRR: Well, the character, Chrissie, he gets stuck in this position that might be one of the worst positions that any person could be stuck in.
Stephen Graham: Of course, yes.
MRR: How did you make your character look so guilty all the time or look like he felt so guilty all the time?
Stephen Graham: I think it was down to the directing. It's down to Nick Murphy being a fantastic director and it's down to having a really good script. What we wanted was that paradox within my character. He wants to tell the truth or he wants to stand by his brother. That kind of thing can send them onto a nervous breakdown. The first thing you think about when you wake up. It's the last thing you think about when you're going to sleep. It's, what do I do? How do I get out of this situation? With integrity and with honor and with truth. And it's the whole relationship with his girlfriend as well. That puts a massive strain on their relationship 'cause it's just that one moment of madness, that one moment of insanity that leads to that typical downward spiral and the collapse of both of these men. And that's what the director was after as well. He was after more of a kind of a Shakespearian tragedy. You know what I mean? That was what he was trying to go for. The depth of a Shakespearian tragedy really.
MRR: This is a remake of the '04 BBC television show, Conviction?
Stephen Graham: Yes.
MRR: And it had the same writer, Bill Gallagher. How do the two compare for fans of the show?
Stephen Graham: I've never seen TV show, to be honest with you. It was something I missed it the first time around and one of my friends was in it to be honest with you. But I missed it the first time around and then obviously while I was doing the film I didn't wanna watch it just in case it influenced my decision as an actor playing the character in any way, shape or form. But it's something I must watch. Now I have got it actually, I've had it downstairs for about five months, so I will watch it eventually.
MRR: [laughter] You spoke about director for the film and everything. Have you ever been in a situation where the director keeps the ending a secret from the cast?
Stephen Graham: Not keeps it a secret. I did a film called “This is England” with Shane Meadows and a lot of it, the majority of it is improvised. And Shane tends to work in a way where if something can happen in one scene then he can try and pick it up and run with that idea and keep that through the film. When it came to the ending of “This is England” we weren't sure how it was gonna end. Shane wasn't 100% certain of how to end it, but that's the only one that's ever happened to me. It's good actually. It kind of keeps you on your toes, you know what I mean?
MRR: [laughter] Well, and also a question I want to ask you too, is many of the films that you've done, especially when you're on Boardwalk Empire, includes a lot of violence in the film. How do you feel about violence in films and do you think there should be a line that's drawn with it?
Stephen Graham: I think if it's not gratuitous, if it's not violent just for violence's sake, if it's in a way to explain about the character or to show how a certain person is or if it's needed for the storyline, well, I think it's poignant and it's right to do. But I don't believe in violence just for violence's sake and that's why with the films that I try to do, if there is violence in them or they are violent characters I try to play with integrity and I don't just do it for the kicks or the laughs. It has to be an important part of that character. Like what happens in “Blood”, that one act of violence completely affects everybody's lives. And it changes everyone's life, that one split second changes everybody else's life, that one act of violence. So you know, hopefully what its trying to show is that violence could destroy lives and these things can have a negative effect on people.
MRR: So one of my last questions for you is who do you think makes better movies, the English or the Americans.
Stephen Graham: That's a difficult question. I'll take the fifth.
MRR: Well you've been in both so, and you have a brilliant American accent. Is it harder to do, to fake the American accent or fake the British accent?
Stephen Graham: I don't know. I'm good at different types of British accents as well. Hopefully you know the way I do different American accents. I'm just very lucky I'm one of them actors who can who can pick an accent up quite easily and make it work, to be honest with you. But yeah, with regards to, I'm very lucky to do a small British independent film like “This is England” and then to be on a film set for like “Gangs of New York” or “Pirates of the Caribbean”. What I will say about both sides of the water is that I'm lucky enough the jobs that I've always worked on, every single person has put a 110% in, so it's no different. It just depends on the scale of the film, you know what I mean? Whether or not its a $100,000 film and you've got friends helping out, you've got no catering, you have to go to the 7-eleven and buy some biscuits and stuff to cater or you're on a big movie and you have the finest dining food whenever you want it. Its the same as long as you put 110% in every time for me, its all exactly the same.
MRR: Well the new Blu-Ray came out on September 10th for Blood. Do you know what audiences are gonna be able to get from the Blu-Ray?
Stephen Graham: I think there's a lot of in-depth interviews on the bonus features and the commentary I think. I think, Nick and Paul's on the commentary. I think theres some really good interviews with Nick the director and you know hopefully explain his vision of what he wants to achieve and accomplish and hopefully that's what he's accomplished.
MRR: Well Stephen, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it and, good luck to you and have fun with your family.
Stephen Graham: All right, man, I will do. Thank you very much.