ROBBIE COLTRANE (3)
Par Steven Horn (18 février 2004).
We talk to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's
Hagrid on set in London.
February 18, 2004 - Robbie Coltrane is clearly excited. He's suiting up once again to play Rubeus Hagrid, the hulking groundskeeper of Hogwarts and friend to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We caught up with Robbie in between scenes on the set of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, at London's Leavesden studios.
Q: Can you talk about the difference between working with [Azkaban Director Alfonso Cuaron] vs. working with Chris Columbus? What does he bring to Harry Potter?
ROBBIE COLTRANE: He's got a different style of shooting. I think, I mean, you'd have to ask him. I know he was very keen to get out of the studio. [Harry Potter] was very studio-bound. That's the trouble with anything which essentially has a lot of bits that are physically impossible. You're left, stuck, in the studio. And that's a shame. You're making a movie. You don't want it to stay put, you want it to be a movie to move. And I think he's been very keen to do that.
Q : How about his directing style vs. Chris? Is he more hands on? Does he let you do your thing?
COLTRANE: You know Chris is always very hands-on ... one of the many things I liked about Chris was that he wasn't one of those directors who sits by the monitor and goes, "Again! No! Again!" Between takes he runs to the set and tells everyone what was wrong, so everyone knows what was wrong. So then you're trying to get it right next time, because you felt that it was an obvious thing that something that the lower director missed. (Everyone laughs.) No names! So yeah, he is very hands-on, and he's very good with the kids, too. I mean they're at a kind of strange and very odd age, 12, 13. So they kind of don't know whether to play with the train set or look at the nudie mags. And so he gets that because he know exactly how protected they need to be, but he also knows that they are semi-adults.
Q: How does he suggest that?
COLTRANE: Well, you'd have to ask him. He does it perfectly. Very clever.
Q: I'm not sure we're going to have a chance. Is there (anything you) notice?
COLTRANE: Um, you want me to write you a piece? (laughs) What, what? Come on, make something up. Isn't that what you guys do?
Q: Well we read that...
COLTRANE: Well there's quite an interesting piece today where they have to hug. Hagrid insists that Hermione and Ron have a hug. Because they've been fighting all year, you know. So they hug and they [makes retching noise]. So you know, so, that's the only problem with 11-, 12-year-olds. Moments like that.
Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Q: When the kids were younger, Chris told us that
he would have to work with them and get them all ready to go, and then immediately
shoot, otherwise they would get distracted. Have things changed for them now?
Q: So they have a little more stamina?
COLTRANE: Oh, tons of stamina, that's not the problem. It's the matter of directing it. (Laughs.) Believe me, my children have more stamina than a power station. It's a matter of saying "the boots have to go on, and then we have to go to the car, or we will miss the plane." So, he was very good. But also, as an adult, as an adult actor, you are very good at accessing parts of your emotional memory. I mean, that's what you get paid for. But it's quite different with children. You have to really sit down and say, "Do you remember what it was like when you thought you were going to get such-and-such for your birthday, and then it turned out that you got something really sensible like a watch?" "Oh God, yeah." "Well, try and remember that, and stand by, you know, and he was really brilliant with that. Now they're much more ... well, they've lived a lot more. And they have more access to their feelings. It's a different process.
Q: When the book came out, there was a bit of an uproar because of a comment you made.
COLTRANE: That was a complete [misinterpretation] of what I was saying. I wouldn't do that...nope. A lot of people were convinced that I hadn't been brought back, and I don't know where they got that from...
Q: Can you talk about the animals you work with?
COLTRANE: Yeah. (Laughs.) Some of the people I worked with in the mid-'80s ... we were doing comedy. Dear, dear, no. (Laughs.) Well, I quite like animals, but they're unpredictable. I mean, look at old what's-his-name in Vegas. Tiger dragged him off the stage, you know? The guy brought up tigers. They're quite unpredictable. I think the shocking thing to discover is the owls are not stupid and very feral, very hard to train. What they are like is sharks, they're very, very efficient killing machines. So, they get very, very good at killing things. You don't need any other skills, you know what I mean? They're not like dolphins, they don't play, they're not funny... they don't need to. "I can eat anything I want. Nothing's going to attack me. Do I need to be charming? I don't think so." So, owls are like that. Whereas the really smart ones are crows. Crows are incredibly smart. They can be taught five things on the drop. While an owl can only do like, "What am I going to do?" You hear about the "wise old owl" rubbish.
Q: What have you learned about being Hagrid in the third film?
COLTRANE: He's very much more vulnerable in this one ...
Q: Are you prepared to do Hagrid for all the movies?
COLTRANE: Well, I needn't do anything else. I mean, I've been on this since February and I've got a lot of other work that's open, so I'm trying to do 4. I'm contracted until four.
Q: Anything beyond that?
COLTRANE: Beyond that, I don't know. Never say "never" again.
Q: How far in the future of Harry Potter, how many years into the seven do you know about?
COLTRANE: Um, I don't know what happens at the end. I don't want to know.
Q: How much has J.K. Rowling told you?
COLTRANE: I can't tell you that. I know all sorts of insights into his past which hasn't been discussed so far which will be important. That's all Jo told me. I said, "Tell me everything about his past that's important even if it's not expressed in the one we're doing. Even if it's irrelevant to the one we're doing, cause I think it is relevant." I know stuff about his past that isn't revealed.
Q: Are you the type of actor who looks at their lines, will say to the director, "Well, I think that's ok, but I think it will come out better if I do it like this?"
COLTRANE: Do I do that? Oh yeah. We cut a few lines that we were doing that seemed to repeat themselves. But the writer is around a lot and he's not possessive about his lines. And so the important thing obviously is to tell the story as it was. Because the children will soon let you know if you messed that thing up.
Hagrid and Fang
Q: So do you know the books?
COLTRANE: Well, I read them all to my kids. I haven't read the new one yet, I'm dying to.
Q: Now Jo Rowling said that you were the actor she had in mind for Hagrid. Having seen your performance in these films.
COLTRANE: She changed her mind. (Laughs.)
Q: Would you say that your performance is influencing the direction Hagrid is taking in the books?
COLTRANE: Oh I wouldn't say that. No, no. I mean she's got the plots for all of it in a vault in the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh. That's where I keep my money, by the way. No, I think she has known for ages. It's just a matter of getting around to making that bit convincing, I guess. It must be absolutely ... terrifying ... to sit down and actually start it even if you know what's going to happen. You know what I mean?
Q: On the first film, I remember you telling the press that Daniel [Radcliffe] changed your cell phone to Turkish. Have the pranks gotten a little more sophisticated?
COLTRANE: No, the jokes have got worse though. I think he's got a hankerin' to be a comedian. He keeps telling me jokes that, uh he goes, "You're really gonna hate this one, OK?" And he tests me with them all, because I haven't seen him for a while. He gives me about 40 jokes, most of which were in the [mix] when I was about 10. But they don't know, because they've never heard them before. Some people say there only are 10 jokes.
Q: What kind of scripts are you getting these days? Are they more fantasy-driven?
COLTRANE: No, I just get the same stuff as I did before, but the price tag is much higher. You know Hollywood..."What did your last picture make?"
Q: Is there anything you're looking forward to?
COLTRANE: Well, I've written a script. I'm trying to flog... I want to direct, myself. Which is always difficult.
Q: What is it?
COLTRANE: It's a thriller. Set in the west of Scotland. All sorts of weird and wonderful things. Corrupt oil companies, genetically-modified food, the love, romance and death.
COLTRANE: And it'll go straight to video.
Q: Are you in it?
COLTRANE: I might be in it. Somebody younger and prettier, I think, will be in it.
Coltrane in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Q: What's it like to be playing a character that is so much of a mystery? Not like in Lord of the Rings where you found out what happened to the character.
COLTRANE: I know what you mean, because the backgrounds in Lord of the Rings are all explained.
Q: It's all there.
COLTRANE: Yeah. Well, I mean, how old is Hagrid? 400 years old something like that?
Q: Hagrid? 60 or 70.
COLTRANE: Is he? Oh, that's right... Just checking. (Laughs.)
Q: These people will know, you see.
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