You recently played Alfred Hitchcock. Would you describe this movie as Hitchcockian?
Toby Jones as Karl Rove in Oliver Stone's 'W.'
It's Hitchcockian in the way that David Lynch is Hitchcockian with a general sense of unease. My partner saw the film for the first time last night and she found it very intense and was trying to work out why. I think it's because you're inside all the time, and this sense of impending doom that Hitchcock obviously perfected and articulated creates suspense in a very limited space.
Have you seen every Hitchcock film now?
Not every one, but I've seen quite a few. I haven't seen the silents, except for bits of "The Lodger" and the talkie version of "Blackmail." When you're researching a part like that, you end up viewing so many clips that you do see films for the first time. I would scan documentaries for footage of how he speaks. The only reason to make a biopic is to look behind the public persona. I didn't speak to anyone who knew him; it was the script and also stuff I'd seen, but the interpretive element of the biopic is interesting. People may say it's not like Hitchcock really was, but no one knows.
'Our whole economic system clearly needs stripping down and rethinking.'
Not every actor should have to answer questions about politics. But since you played Karl Rove, I'd love to hear your take on the upcoming U.S. election.
I'm not so sure it's just the Americans. I think there's a general crisis in politics. From a dramatic perspective, I've been struck by how -- in terms of the economic meltdown -- we've exhausted all the hyperbole with massive things happening like Lehman Brothers going down. But when I switch on the news in the morning, it feels like this is D-Day, we have to save the Euro today, etc. From a drama perspective, the electorate as an audience are exhausted by the hyperbole. There is something in the language of political discourse that is valueless. It's dispiriting that in all of our democracy, which we've been trying to export all over the world, the business of being elected seems to preclude the addressing of radical problems. Our whole economic system clearly needs stripping down and rethinking. We celebrated the National Health Service with Danny Boyle's Olympics opener. Anyone will defend the National Health Service, but the problem is that it wasn't created at a time when these kind of population issues, with people living longer, were around. It just seems that the system itself is running on empty. Even the jamboree of American politics is slightly underwhelming at the moment. Normally, by this point, there's a sense of anticipation and it doesn't feel that way in the States. It's a shame when one thinks about how jubilant everyone was about Obama and how they've forgotten that he never claimed he could solve everything.
You have a keen awareness of American society, act in Hollywood movies, but don't live there. Why not?
There's a practical element, as my partner's a lawyer in London. Also, I feel very European in America. I don't feel potentially American. I feel a prisoner of my European-ness. Hollywood could be fun for a while but it just hasn't happened that way yet.