Q: The crossover from theatre to cinema, and vice versa, doesn’t always work well; but it certainly does in FROST/NIXON. Why?
Well, first of all, Peter was a screenwriter before he wrote theatre.
And Ron was able to look closer into the eyes of the actors and tell
the story in a different way.
Q: And it never feels theatrical, which always is a risk.
Yes, because if you do a play for several years and say those lines
again and again, you are so tapped into the character and the
performance that there is a strong possibility you end up massively
over-rehearsed for the film, which is certainly not the case here.
Q: How was the energy on the set of FROST/NIXON?
I’ll never forget being on the set during Frank’s first day and seeing
him do one take, which was great. Ron went up to him and said something
I couldn’t hear; but I knew I was watching a brilliant stage
performance become a brilliant film performance. It was a monumental
moment! Frank Langella and Michael Sheen are fantastic and, besides the
physical similarities to their characters, the main issue was to get
the essence of the real Nixon and the real Frost right. I think both of
them were able to capture that.
Q: What was it like to work with Frank Langella?
I saw Frank as Frank only once, on the first day of shooting. From that
day on I saw him as Nixon, and he stayed in character during the three
months of shooting. When we wrapped up he took his make-up off and
became Frank again, a very social and fun guy. It was fascinating!
Q: And how was Michael Sheen?
A: His process is different to Frank’s; but that doesn’t take anything away from how brilliant he is in the film.
Q: Toby Jones plays Swifty Lazar, Nixon’s agent.
Toby is a hilarious, great and fun guy. And it’s interesting that he is
in W and FROST/NIXON playing these two completely different characters.
Q: Were you looking forward to working with Ron Howard again after your experience on APOLLO XIII?
Yes, because he has amazing energy and focus. Ron is a lot of fun to
work with due to his excitement about the material and about what the
actors are bringing to it, which is contagious. He is just a blast!
Q: How different is this movie to everything else you have done so far?
I have only done a handful of films that are based on real life, one of
which coincidentally was APOLLO XIII! I think there is special weight
to those stories and characters that you don’t find in most movies.
Q: What would you have asked Nixon if you had been in Frost’s shoes?
To me, the failure to pull out of Vietnam and going into Cambodia were
far greater mistakes than lying about Watergate. So I guess my
questions would have been about Vietnam and Cambodia, and also about
being raised a Quaker, as they believe in non-violence.
Frost Nixon Is at Irish cinemas everywhere now
Watch out for our Ron Howard interview this weekend on Movies.ie