Love Thy Keepers (2018)
001Lithium X (2018)
Role: Adam Bird
Das Boot (TV series 2018)
Official Site. Photos. IMDb
The Snowman (2017)
Role: Filip Becker
Release: Oct. 13 2017
Role: Colonel Winnant
Release: May 2017
Chicken/Egg (short film 2016)
Release: Febr. 2017
Role: Henry Howell
Release: 26 April 2016
Agent Carter (TV Series 2016, S.2)
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After impressing Anthony Hopkins in the audition process, British thesp, James D’Arcy, stepped into some iconic shoes, portraying actor Anthony Perkins, in ‘Hitchcock’. A graduate of London’s Academy Of Music And Dramatic Art, James D’Arcy is – like Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Hopkins before him – now a Brit in Hollywood. His recent work, playing multiple roles in Cloud Atlas, has shown his versatility and skill, while his performance as star Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock has been described by none other than Dame Helen Mirren as “amazing”. The 37-year-old Englishman discusses the merits of working with old friend – but first-time feature director – Sacha Gervasi, the challenges of playing a real person and how Anthony Hopkins ensured his audition was the best of his life...
You knew Sacha before making the film, didn’t you?
Yeah, we’ve known each other for years. Funnily enough I knew about this project, God, I don’t know, six years ago. At one point Ryan Murphy was going to make it and we had talked about Anthony Perkins then. The way it had been left was, "We’ll line our ducks up and come back to you". They obviously didn’t manage to get it all together and the film went away. I’d known Sacha socially and he was writing another script at the time and a group of us went round and read that script out loud, so he could work on it. Then he said, “Listen, I’m going to do a reading of this other script – are you on board?” I said, “Sure, what script?” And he said, “Hitchcock – I’m going to direct it!” I said, “Sure, but if you don’t mind, I’d rather not read Anthony Perkins – because when you come to cast it I hope you might consider me and I don’t want to blow the audition six months before you make the movie!”Because we were friends from another context he didn’t see me as an actor, so it came as a surprise to him that I was thinking about it. He was very decent about it and when it did come round he got me in to meet the producers and Hopkins was there and it was the greatest meeting I’ve ever done in my entire life! Hopkins sat there and stared at me and kept saying, "My God it’s uncanny, it’s unbelievable." And then eventually Sacha had us read a bit together and then we improvised for about 10 minutes. When we started reading I had the first line in this scene and I did my best Anthony Perkins impression and Hopkins fell off his chair laughing because he found it so uncanny. He stopped and said "I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I can’t help it. It’s ridiculous. It’s unbelievable. I’d cast him right away." And this was obviously very gratifying but I’d never met Hopkins before, so it was slightly nerve-wracking. I’m not making it up – he literally slid to the floor! And so we started again and again he cracked up. He couldn’t read with me. He said, "I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. It’s so insanely ridiculous I don’t think we can carry on." And anyway, we did, and at the end of it all, after this lengthy improvisation that we did – him as Hitchcock, me as Tony Perkins – he jumps out of his chair and gives me a huge bear hug. And Sacha is beaming away and I thought, ‘Even if I don’t get that job I’ll never have a better audition in my entire life.’ I can say that the whole experience continued to be as joyful as that. It really did.
Is playing a real person more intimidating than a fictional part?
I feel like, certainly in the last ten years, other actors have ploughed this furrow so successfully that it actually helps a lot. Michael Sheen has obviously very successfully played real-life people [former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen, football manager Brian Clough in The Damned United without actually doing a direct impression of them. And Helen, of course, playing the Queen. I tried to take a leaf out of their book, which is, you have to offer a flavour of who that person was but beyond that you have to interpret whatever is there on the page as well. It’s not a history lesson, it’s entertainment. I think that audiences by now are very good at whatever little dramatic licence one might take.
Was there a moment in preparation when you thought, ‘I’ve got him!’?
It was a little elusive, in truth. You get certain bits of it and then other bits would wobble off. The body language was one thing. I’d watch a lot of his older films and he’s very gangly and has these stretchy limbs almost and a nervous energy about him. I would feel like I’m getting somewhere there and I’d have a costume fitting and try on a jacket and the Psycho coat that he wore – not the actual Psycho one but things that were very similar. I felt really positive about that. Then I’d try and find some way into his speech rhythms, which were really peculiar. And that was an exercise in disappointment for quite a long time! It took a while and the truth is you do all the work you can and do everything you can and then you go onto set and you have to let it go. You hope that you have absorbed enough of him and seen enough of him and read enough about him so that you are at least honouring what you believe, and what the script suggests, he might have been like as a human being.
How does the script present him as a person?
It alludes to his sexuality without going into it and then it shows him to be a very grateful young actor, to have had this opportunity to work with Hitchcock. And in reality their relationship was very, very collaborative. I always thought Hitchcock was quite dictatorial, I thought he saw them as puppets to be pushed around wherever he wanted. It appears, from what I read anyway, that wasn’t the case on Psycho. He was very collaborative with Anthony Perkins. The few photographs that exist of them together, they seem very chummy.
Are most of your scenes with Tony?
Most are with Tony and then a bit with Scarlett [Johansson who plays Janet Leigh]. I think it’s true to say no scene in Psycho is recreated and certainly not from the same angle: it’s the rehearsal and the moments prior to that. In truth the film is much more focused on Hitchcock and Alma [Reville, played by Helen Mirren] and their relationship and what it was like for them.
What was the first Hitchcock film you saw?
Psycho was the first I remember. I was about 12 years old and I was at my friend’s house and he said, “We’re gonna watch Psycho" I must have known that Psycho was a horror movie and I said I didn’t want to watch it and he said, "No – we’re gonna watch it." And he literally sat on me so that I couldn’t get away and made me watch it. I’m not very good at watching horror films. I never have been. I leap six feet in the air and then I don’t sleep for four nights. In truth even in preparation for this job I never watched the whole of Psycho.
It’s still a shocking film...
It is absolutely a shocking film. Funnily enough a lot of what was particularly shocking about it probably doesn’t apply today, Anthony Perkins was that boy next door you never thought he could be a serial killer. That’s something, as a modern-day audience, we’re accustomed to. That kind of thing. You see the clean-cut guy and you think, ‘There’s something fishy going on here!’ Whereas when Psycho first came out that wasn’t the case. People weren’t prepared for that.