Mike Leigh doesn't allow actors 'to do what they want'

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 2 March 2015
Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh

Acclaimed director Mike Leigh says he doesn't "abandon" actors and does his best to ensure that his films are "coherent"

Mike Leigh doesn't "abandon" actors.

The 72-year-old director, who helmed the Oscar-nominated movie 'Mr. Turner' featuring Timothy Spall, says he collaborates very closely with performers, but is wary of giving them too much creative control.

Asked how reassuring it is to have an actor as capable as Spall in the starring role, Leigh said: "Anybody that would have played the part would have been as up to it as Tim. Because there are a lot of very intelligent, responsible, resourceful actors around. Indeed that applies to everybody else in the film, there are 80-odd actors and they're all delivering the goods equally.

"The fact is, he's the main character and he's got the biggest share of the pie. But he absolutely rises to it and is brilliant, that's not in question.

"I do collaborate very closely with the actors all the way down the line, I don't abandon them and let them go off and do whatever they want, because that wouldn't amount to a coherent film."

Spall plays the British painter J.M.W. Turner in the movie, and Leigh revealed it was the director's idea for him to take painting lessons to prepare for the role.

Leigh reflected: "He was playing Turner, what else did you expect him to do? If he was playing a motor-racing driver he'd have to start driving around.

"It's very basic and straightforward. People think it's remarkable, but it's not remotely remarkable."

'Mr Turner' is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

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