INTERVIEW: David Tennant Talks Hipsters, Queens & Demons
David Tennant has given an exclusive interview to the Scottish Sunday Herald Magazine ahead of the premiere of his new movie You, Me And Him in Glasgow next weekend. As well as talking about his role in the new rom-com, David also discussed his other new projects: the historical drama Mary, Queen Of Scots and the BBC / Amazon TV adaptation of Good Omens. You can read extracts from the interview below:
You, Me And HimOn his character's hipster beard:
"It was nearly all my beard. It was 90 per cent my beard, with a sort of promontory at the front which was added, little tufts of yak hair just to give it that little bit extra. I had it long enough to get quite a full carpet round my chin, but not quite long enough to have the little sculpted extra that gave it the full hipster."
On aging hipster alpha male John:
"...He's a little bit too old for it. And that's very much the point really. He's a man living a youth that he somehow felt he missed out on – unhappily married for many years and then sort of released into the white heat of a midlife crisis. So when he gets involved in the lives of the women next door he wades in with both feet and becomes – well, he believes indispensable. They would say probably incurable."
On the film's central couple:
"It's depressingly rare, I think, that a gay couple should be at the centre of a story and their gayness is not the issue which they're being asked to deal with. All the families we see are very different and yet all equally important and relevant and valid. I think all the characters that Daisy creates are very recognisable. It feels like a modern story and it feels like it's very much a story of the nation we live in right now in terms of its variety."
On nearly missing out on the role:
"They tried various people for this part of John and I was sort of watching them approaching various actors who weren't available or couldn't do it for whatever reason. And I just sort of sat there very quietly wondering if I was ever going to get a shot and they obviously realised that I might still be available, and I got brought on board. But I was far from first choice. But I'm very happy about that. I feel like I'm big enough to rise above it."
On working with Michael Sheen:
"It's always a gamble working with someone, even someone like Michael who I knew relatively well. But at the same time it can be hugely exciting to discover a new working relationship and that's mercifully been the case with Good Omens. Just about every scene I have it's Michael and I staring at each other and that could have been a grim experience over the six months of the shoot if he hadn't been such a joy to be around."
On the world of Good Omens:
"It's quite hard tonally to get a grip on what Good Omens is, because it's this very unique world that comes from Terry and Neil's novel and from the scripts, which Neil has adapted pretty faithfully from that novel. I think it's quite unlike anything I've ever been in before and possibly anything many people have seen before. It's like a sort of fairy tale with a kind of very real world setting. It's a farce and it's also deeply serious, It's all things at once and not quite any one of them."
On the expectations around the show:
"If the rest of the show turns out like this early trailer that we've all seen [on the set] I think it's going to be quite special. We've clearly got a bigger budget than any BBC show I've ever worked on before...From an acting point of view you just turn up and you do your job like you do on anything else...But it's when you take a step back you see the ambition of something like Good Omens and the resources that we've got to play with. It's very exciting to be able to be part of that."
Mary Queen Of Scots
On playing John Knox
"I don't think the screenplay regards him particularly kindly...But as an actor I guess your job is to find the reasons for why someone does the things they do, so that's what I set out to do. John Knox comes from a different time and I wouldn't say that on a personal level I can identify with some of his beliefs, certainly the more misogynistic ones which are particularly focused on in this portrayal of him. He was clearly a man who felt motivated to do what he believed was the right thing and that was all that mattered, and God's will should be done. That's something you can certainly key in to as an actor. You can get behind the passion of that and the conviction of that."
You, Me And Him was written and directed by Daisy Aitkens and produced by Georgia Tennant. It follows the relationship of a same-sex couple played by Lucy Punch and Faye Marsay. David plays their annoying neighbour John. Following the premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival on Sunday 25th February it will be in UK cinemas from April 12th.
Good Omens is a six-part adaptation of the comic novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. David plays Crowley with Michael Sheen as Aziraphale, a demon and and angel who join forces to avert the oncoming Apocalypse. Also starring Adria Arjona, Michael McKean, Jack Whitehall and Miranda Richardson, the show will launch worldwide on Amazon in early 2019, with a later broadcast on BBC Two.
Mary Queen Of Scots stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I while David co-stars as Protestant minister John Knox. The historical drama is directed by Josie Rourke and is produced by Focus Features and Working Title. It is due for a UK release on September 14th.