Monday 9 September 2013

Divergent's Ben Lamb on his Character 'Edward', Director Neil Burger, & the Butter Knife Scene

The Daily Quirk talks to Divergent star Ben Lamb about auditioning for the part of Dauntless initiate 'Edward', and a certain butter knife scene we're all morbidly excited to see in the movie:

TDQ: You’ve mentioned previously that you were auditioning for your next big role, Edward in the movie adaption of Veronica Roth’s dystopian sci-fi thriller Divergent, while you were still filming The White Queen. Can you tell me what that was like? 

Ben Lamb: It was stressful. Very stressful. It was stressful, but it was also exciting. I think I wasn’t expecting my career…I knew that The White Queen was going to open doors for me, but I didn’t expect it so fast. And it was all very exciting, but it was also tiring because I was also shooting. I flew to LA twice to get that role. I was Skyping with the director [Neil Burger] while I was in Belgium and I was Skyping with the director on a really bad wi-fi, in Chicago and, you know, just trying to get the role. So, it was time consuming and stressful. And then I would come back jetlagged and keep filming, but it was all worth it in the end.

TDQ: So, what attracted you to the role of Edward?

BL: I think that he is one of the most exciting character transformations in the [Divergent] novels. I think it’s very rare that you get the chance, as an actor, to be like a golden boy at the start, but at the end be this dark, grizzled, bitter [character] that lost his eye. It’s just a really exciting opportunity for me to explore throughout however many books or movies it’s going to be, to explore that character changing so much. And also, clearly, I am a guy, so I’m going to like running around rooftops with a gun.  (continued)

TDQ: That’s always the dream. Had you ever read the book previously?

BL: No, I had never even heard of the book. But it was also very exciting to find that there was a dedicated and loyal and excited fanbase, for those novels. Because I think that a lot of my work has either been Shakespeare or based on novels. So, it was quite exciting to do another adaptation that has a large following.

TDQ: Like you said, Edward, has a, shall we say, an unfortunate accident with a butter knife. Can you tell me about shooting that scene?

BL: It’s actually the first time I crossed paths with prosthetics. Kevin Haley, who worked on, amongst other things Planet of the Apes, came up with the whole idea for how you could technically achieve the look of having a guy get stabbed in the eye. It was about two hours, as far as I can remember, getting that make-up on. And it was basically plastic surrounding the eye, covered with layers of fake skin. When I first got cast, I was driving around from place to place. getting tailored for the costumes, and getting a full head cast made up with Kevin and Brad [Brevet] the make-up designer. And he’d actually, Kevin, had made a fake closed-eye.  So, One eye that was closed and the other was very tightly clenched-closed and that was the eye he used for the stabbed eye. He stuck that on last and did the airbrushing for that. He put the make-up on and I went to set, obviously and there was a lot of blood applied at the set. And then it’s just a case of acting, but I think a lot of the hard work had been done for me, in terms of acting because the set is really amazing and atmospheric for that particular scene. And the make-up, I didn’t have to think very hard about how much actual pain I would actually be in, in that situation.

TDQ: Have you been able to see the finished scene? 

BL: No, I haven’t. No, I have friends that were watching the monitors and they say it looked pretty gory. So, I think, that the gorier the better, because in the books, that incident incites a lot of emotional reflection from Tris [played by Shailene Woodley]. So hopefully that’s what we’ve achieved.

TDQ: What was it like working with Neil Burger, the director of Limitless, The Illusionist and now, Divergent

BL: Really, really amazing. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with Neil. When I was auditioning in LA, I used to leave the audition then call the manager and be like, ’This guy is amazing.’ It’s reasonably rare that you get a director where every single note that they give improves the performance. I think, normally, or often directors are groping for the right direction just as much as the actor is groping for the right interpretation. It doesn’t always come first time. But somehow, Neil has this amazing ability to come up with the exact note, without telling me how to do it. He comes up with the exact right note in every situation. And that’s something that I really admire and that’s something that’s really helpful to the film in general. I think, also, he has an incredible eye for the image or the overall look. And that’s another attribute in a director you don’t get very often, when you have somebody who is very visual, but also has a great eye for the emotional landscape of the movie. It was just really exciting.

TDQ: He definitely has a particular aesthetic to his movies.

BL: And also, it changes every time. It’s not like he is a one trick pony. He has a different look. You know, it’s not like he chooses the same visual language every time. It’s something that is also very cool.

TDQ: How about working with fellow cast members?

BL: I think everyone was great. It was really exciting to get the opportunity to work with Shailene [Woodley]. I mean, a lot of the actors I didn’t get to meet until after we shot. I met quite a few of them at [San Diego] Comic Con. It’s just the nature of the scene. Tris has her one-to-one scenes with several characters, like in the books. And they’re doing training together and that’s where the action happens. Working with everyone was a joy. All of the producers and Neil and everyone else’s involvement was pretty great. It was a great working with everyone.

Via BenLambFans 

Click here to read the full interview which includes his experience of working on The White Queen as 'Anthony Rivers'

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