Total Film – June, 2004

FIGHTING PITT – by Elizabeth Moore

Achilles is described as being insatiable, arrogant, rebellious and hungry for fame. Did you think: "I need to get this part"?

[Laughs] Yeah, that’s me. That’s what I’m about… No, I think even Achilles would be a little pissed off by that character assassination. I know it reads that way and it looks that way on the surface, but he’s really coming at it from the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s more him fearing death, searching for some kind of immortality and glory. And that’s where we start off with the film.

But isn’t he supposed to be a demigod?

Sure, the mythology is that he’s a demigod. We don’t play any of that in our script, nor do we play the gods as character per se. We only relate to them as humans relate to their religions.

Does Achilles buy into that demigod image of himself?

No, no, no, we make no reference to that. I mean "Achilles’ heel" is a metaphor for your personal weakness and that very weakness may actually be your strength. In Troy… I don’t want to be too silly but it’s the heart.

So what do you think your Achilles’ heel is?

Let’s not go there. Next! [Laughs]

Do you agree that Achilles is a character driven by the basest of human emotions?

Well, fear of death, the quest for love…

And revenge…

Yeah. No. That’s just one little aspect of him. The revenge becomes a thing because he’s so sorrowful and he’s so hurt by this loss of his loved one that he finds an enemy – the one who dealt the death blow. But that’s the only revenge part of the story. I hate vengeance stories. I think that they’re very limiting. I think our culture is too obsessed with this idea of vengeance – and it’s not the end of the story in Troy. There are great themes going on here that are far deeper that I can touch upon. I don’t want to limit Troy to a vengeance story or just a quest for glory. I know that’s what’s going to be in the trailer, but there’s much more to it. It’s great stuff.

Eric Bana said you’re all supposed to sound British in this. Have you pulled off the accent?

Well, we’ll see, we’ll see. I went for it. They did slight differences in dialect. There are only two Americans in this: me and Garrett [Hedlund, who plays Patroclus]. I think it was hard for us to reach for the British and so they kind of tailored some stuff around us. There was some kind of science behind it all and there were slight variations between the Greeks.

Troy’s your first full-on action movie. How hard did you find the physical aspect of the shoot?

Well, it was certainly a lot of work, but it’s always fun picking up something new. I operate from the belief that you can learn just about anything, but it’s just a matter of how much time it’s going to take you. This is one of the few films in my experience where everyone seemed to be at the top of their game, from the director to the actors, to the set and costumes… But our stunt coordinator and our stunt guys really have been the bloodline on this film. They came up with some fantastic fighting styles and really worked out some great stuff for us. One of the things that I was really drawn to was this extreme juxtaposition of love versus the depths of violence and aggression. So the fighting was a big aspect, a big component of this film, and it could easily fall flat. What I was most taken with was that, in this day and age, you keep trying to up the ante, keep trying to raise the bar about speed and cuts and continuity and just chop, chop, chop. This one went the other way.

How do you mean?

Well, the stunt team looked at some of these poses on the Greek urns and developed a fighting style that I’ve never seen before. And by the time that Hector [Eric Bana] and Achilles came together for the fight – the fight does not let you down. You see the chess moves and you see the chess parries and only one death blow gets in.

There was a rumour you got stabbed…

Yeah, I heard that. And that they CG’d my legs. I mean, do you really want me to continue this conversation? Do you really believe that you could CG a whole film of someone’s legs? [Laughs]

Speaking of your legs, how long did it take to feel comfortable in the short-skirted outfit?

Not as long as I wish it took. We all kind of got right into it…

There was a lot of tabloid attention paid to your Achilles look – do you ever get used to that kind of scrutiny?

Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of old news, I guess. You negotiate your way through it, but these guys – Eric, Orlando, Diane – are just getting thrown into it. Suckers! It’s that thing of getting in the ring and putting yourself in scenarios where you don’t know what’s going to happen which is the most intriguing in any arena. If you know where it’s going, what’s the point?

Your Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve co-star George Clooney worked with Wolfgang Peterson on A Perfect Storm. Did you talk with him before signing up for this?

Listen, I don’t know if you’ll find a bad word about Peterson anywhere. Clooney is a big fan.

You did Ocean’s Eleven, then this, then Ocean’s Twelve. Seems like you’re on a blockbuster roll…

A blockbuster roll? I don’t know. I go with whatever opens up. So, maybe it is…

Does you production company have anything close to going into production?

We’ve got Charlie And The Chocolate Factory with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and we’ve got Infernal Affairs with Martin Scorsese.

Are you planning to be in the Scorsese movie?

No, I’m not right for it. We’ve got a few other things going on, too. It takes more time that I foresaw, but I like working on stories.

And you’ve got Troy 2, right?

[Laughs] Yeah, Troy 2, and we’re very excited about it. We can rebuild it!