Brits are a little behind. They just got around to making their '80s movies. You'd think the nation responsible for Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis would have done this already, but Starter for 10 is their first.
In the film, Brian Jackson (James McAvoy) tries to win a game show to impress his dream girl. Of course, the right one for him was his friend (Rebecca Hall) the whole time. Fresh off the acclaim for The Last King of Scotland, McAvoy is on a role. Recently bursting onto the scene as Christian Bale's wife in The Prestige, Hall is just getting started. McAvoy and Hall kept their pairing together for this interview, to reflect on the '80s romance.
Hollywood.com: This is the great British '80s movie that was never made. How big an influence were our American '80s movies on you?
James McAvoy: Quite effective, actually.
Rebecca Hall: Yeah, they are. I mean, they're quite definitely in my consciousness. But I don't think I really discovered them until quite recently, like when I was about maybe 17, 18, I discovered those kind of films. I didn't see them when I was little. The films like Big and other '80s films I definitely saw when I was 10, 11, 12, something like that.
JM: I was quite familiar with a lot of the John Hughes movies when I was about 14, 15, and in the mid-'90s. And I loved things like The Sure Thing. But there's a film that really contributed to my performance in this, which was The Sure Thing, but also Class, which was Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe. Andrew McCarthy has an affair with Rob Lowe's mother. Anyway, I always felt that Andrew McCarthy was a brilliant actor when I was younger. So getting to do something '80s and getting to do something that had the sensibilities of an American '80s movie, I kind of felt like I kind of drew on all those kind of films that I loved.
HW: Did you see Mannequin?
RH: I was about to say Mannequin!
JM: Did I see that? Oh, no, I only saw it 15 times, actually. Kim Cattrall was only in my dreams about every night! A little 12-year-old boy with dirty fancies about a mannequin.
HW: Did either of you get to meet producer Tom Hanks?
JM: Yes. Well, I did Band of Brothers with Tom like, I think, 7, 8 years ago. And Tom was on set a few times. He used to come down for lunch. He wouldn't really interfere with the filming process. He'd just kind of come down and entertain us all for an hour, and then go back to The Da Vinci Code, which he was filming. He'd go back and be serious again.
HW: James, do you feel like things are just exploding for you this year?
JM: I suppose so, a little bit. Yeah. But maybe not, in a way. Because I haven't worked since August of last year, which has been deliberate. It means that I've not really been around. And I don't spend a lot of time in LA, and I don't really spend a lot of time "in the industry" in London either. And unless you read all the newspapers and watch E! every day, you don't really keep up to date with what people think is hip and what isn't, you know what I mean? What I do notice is that I'm finding it easier to do projects that I like, and that's very welcome. And that's a lovely kind of explosion, and I hope that continues.
HW: Rebecca, how hard was it growing up with your father being so highly regarded in England?
[NOTE: Hall’s father is the renowned British stage and screen director Sir Peter Hall, director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and, later, the National Theater]
RH: You know, it's an interesting question to ask, and it's always something that people want to know about, but I don't massively have a very interesting answer, because it's my experience, and it is what it is. It's not good or bad, because I don't know any different.
HW: Did it make you not want to go into the business?
RH: Well, my feeling on it was that I will always be compared. I knew that if I went into the business, I would always be compared, and I didn't see the point in pretending I wasn't that, or not talking about it, or sort of running away from it and doing something that's kind of wild and as far away as possible, because I knew that I would have those associations whatever I did. You know, it's what I want to do. And I'll take whatever criticisms people throw at me, or whatever they don't. And that's the same with any actor, so it doesn't ultimately make any difference. I'm proud to have come from a family that taught me a lot about stuff before I had any experience of it, possible experience of it, which makes you a little bit ahead of things, in the headspace.
HW: Do you guys have representation in both the US and Britain, and do you receive scripts from both sides?
JM: Yeah, I've got agents on both sides of the pond, and you get scripts coming from both places. But the weird thing is now as well that most British scripts have financial roots in America anyway. So even if you get a script coming at you from Britain, chances are Universal or Fox or somebody actually owns it, you know? And no, I think you'd have to be in a really unlucky position, and it's probably your own fault, if you get representation on both sides of the pond that conflict.
RH: Yeah, they work, it's like a team thing. The whole sort of business is quite international now. I know it doesn't look that way from here, but certainly if you live elsewhere, it's quite apparent that everything they cast over here tends to cast in England, too, and vice versa.
JM: And quite often, big American projects that film in Europe have to hire British actors to play an American anyway, because they can't afford to take the American actor to Prague or to Lithuania or Romania or whatever it is.
HW: How many scripts do you like reading a week?
JM: I'm quite bad, I don't really like reading scripts. I get really pissed off reading scripts. I just read my bits. How many lines? "Oh, there's more lines in this one than the last one!"
RH: That's what Michael Caine swears he does.
RH: Yeah, he kept saying that when we were doing press for The Prestige. He just kept saying, "I can't talk about the rest of the film, I've only ever read my bits. I've got no idea what happened." He was lying.
HW: James, are you in the sequel to Narnia?
JM: No. It's not the book before, actually. We're skipping two books, skipping The Horse and His Boy, and they're going straight to Prince Caspian. Tumnus isn't in any of the other ones until the last book, which is called The Last Battle. So maybe when I'm 45, they'll come and say, "We're making the seventh book."
HW: Have you seen Epic Movie and their portrayal of Tumnus?
JM: I haven't, no. I saw the trailer, though, which is quite funny. I felt quite honored that I was being parodied. There's a bit where someone pretends to be Mr. Tumnus, and it's all done like an episode of MTV's Cribs. So he takes her back to his crib.