To describe British hunk David Morrissey as the next big thing is an understatement as he cavorts around with a naked Sharon Stone in Michael Caton-Jones’ Basic Instinct 2. David Morrissey started acting at Everyman’s Youth Theatre in Liverpool, where he was born and raised. He made an auspicious debut in “One Summer” (1983), a series about two Liverpool run-aways.
Following completion of RADA studies, he was with the Royal Shakespeare Company for two years, then at the National Theatre. He has also worked at Cheek By Jowl, Manchester Royal Exchange and other venues. He is married to novelist Esther Freud, the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, and daughter of artist Lucian Freud.
Apart from his sizzling Instinct role in the much talked about sexy thriller, Morrissey will next be seen starring opposite Hilary Swank in The Reaping. En route to New York’s JFK airport, Morrissey talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.
Question: So tell me how did this Basic Instinct gig come about for you?
Morrissey: I was in London doing a film called Stoned and it was quite a rock and roll like film. But we were rushing all around London filming that and my agent phoned me up and said there was a script waiting for me of Basic Instinct 2 and I went home, I read it and I really enjoyed the character. I thought it was great. And I met with up with Michael Caton-Jones, whose work I knew and I really liked a lot. And, had a quick meeting with him and then they flew me to L.A. and I met Sharon – and I had a really good meeting with Sharon, we were together for a couple of hours – and then I flew back home and then about a day later I got a call from my agent saying there was an offer. So that’s really how it happened.
Question: Were you kind of surprised that this sequel ended up coming about at all, because it’s been around for a while?
Morrissey: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean obviously when I got sent the script I was surprised that so much time had gone between the two films. But once I read the script – I was looking at it like any other script – I just took it for the story that it was and I enjoyed that and I liked the character. And then when I got to L.A. I started hearing rumours about why it took so him long, and I just decided not to listen to them because it was none of my business and they weren’t going to make my job any easier. So I just got on with the job.
Question: Now, what expectations did you have of working with Sharon and how were those expectations realised?
Morrissey: Well of course what was interesting was before I met Sharon for the screen test, I was slightly nervous – but that was nervous which was about wanting the job, like I always feel, going in for situations for a job that I want to do. But she made me completely at ease right from off the bat really. I went in and we got on very well very quickly and were sort of laughing between her and Michael and myself. It was very easy. So when it came to doing the job I was hoping that that relationship we had had in the screen test would continue into the shooting and it certainly did. So we got on… I mean like any film has problems just logistically, you know certainly films made on location in London because London is not the friendliest city for filming and, they’re not great about closing off roads for you or doing any of those things. But she’s a great professional and we got on well. There was the relationship that I had with Sharon in the screen test carried on in the filming of it and we got on very well.
Question: Do you find filming intimate scenes to be very stressful? Or do you have to adopt a sense of humour when you do stuff like that?
Morrissey: A little bit of both really. I mean you approach those scenes like any other scene. I know that’s slightly a cliché for actors but it’s true really in the sense that, to tell a story, as an actor you’re wondering what your character is trying to go through in the scene, why is here, what’s at stake and stuff like that. But you’re a little nervous as well because you, you’re buck naked in front of a lot of crew really. But I mean Sharon’s very good at sort of being at ease with her body so that created an idea of yourself being quite easy with it. And I’d worked a lot with the crew as we filmed in England and I got on well with them and you have to be sensitive to their job as well as them being sensitive to yours.
Question: Sharon looks amazing for 48…
Morrissey: She does, doesn’t she? But she looks after herself I think. You know she’s somebody who really, has great diets and all those things. And she’s not shy either. There’s nothing coy about her, which I love.
Question: Americans tend to be very puritanical when it comes to sex in film, so do you think a movie like this is almost like an anomaly?
Morrissey: I’m not sure about that. I think if it’s a big mainstream Hollywood picture so maybe within that, everybody’s aware of what sort of rating it has to get in order for it to get some people into the cinema. So, they have to be careful of that. But, there’s ways around that. In a way, the less you see in some movies the more erotic it is, you know. So I guess that’s a censorship thing. I don’t know whether that’s particularly American, though, I think… I find that in England, maybe not in France or Germany but certainly Britain so it seems to me in the last couple of years they seem to be a little more sort of worried about that in our censorship as well.
Question: Sharon made comments that that she wanted to put more sex into the film after she saw a cut. Are you aware of any of that?
Morrissey: We shot a lot more, yeah. There is a kind of scene in there where there’s a threesome. There are a lot of scenes between Sharon and I; there’s scenes between me and another girl. after a while, you know. (Laughter)
There was a lot of sex in it but I think for the director and the producers they made their decisions on those scenes for story reasons. I don’t think they were in any way sort of leaned on to put less sex in it. I think that what they did was that they wanted… I think the film is a really great piece. What they wanted to do was make sure that that piece carried on right through to the end. as I say sometimes less is more but I wasn’t aware of Sharon wanting more sex in there after the first cut. No. I’m very happy with the finished film. I don’t think it needs any more sex in it.
Question: Do you think that they’re likely to put together like an unrated version of the DVD?
Morrissey: I’m sure there’ll be DVD extras. So hopefully there will be for people who want to check those things out. Once you’ve seen my ass once you’ve seen it a thousand times in my opinion. [Laughter]
Question: When you make a decision to make a movie like this, do you do it partly because you are looking at your overall career as part of the reason for that?
Morrissey: No, that’s a second for me. I think the first thing is the script. You look at the script and you look at the character you decide about whether there’s something you bring out that’s a challenge to you. But, there’s a profile thing going on as well. So it’s all part and parcel of that. But for me it starts with the character and whether it’s a character whose journey I find interesting, and the rest of it is slightly out of my hands, whenever I finish a film. how it’s marketed. At this point in my career I have very little control over that so I just go on with it. You know the work speaks for itself and it just gets out there.
Question: Now can you talk a little bit about The Reaping, your next film? Who do you play in that?
Morrissey: Hilary Swank plays a woman who was a missionary and went to the Sudan, and in her journey to the Sudan with her husband, with her little girl, which coincided with a drought and a lot of the local people blamed her for bringing the drought and as revenge they murdered her husband and her little girl. And what she does is, she leaves the missionary and sets herself up as a scientist whose whole job is to debunk miracles. And these people exist. There’s a guy in Louisiana who actually goes about as a scientist and whenever people think there’s a miracle or some sort of phenomenon he goes and proves that there’s a scientific explanation for this. I play a man who comes from a small town in Louisiana and goes to Hilary Swank to bring her to his small town because a boy has died in this small town and his death coincided with a river turning red and nobody knows why this river’s turned red and they blame it on his little sister – they think she’s possessed by the devil and her life is under threat – so he brings Hilary to them in order to sort of help prove that this is a mental phenomenon. And when Hilary gets there more things start to happen and she’s finding it harder and harder to explain why these things are happening to this village. They have an affair and all that…
Question: You play an American character?
Morrissey: I do, yeah. I play a teacher from a small town in Louisiana.
Question: How was your accent?
Morrissey: Yeah, it was good. I mean they were very happy with it. I mean I think, for me I do accents a lot in Britain. It’s part and parcel – there’s a technical side to that because it helped me while filming down there and it wasn’t like I was doing one of these, accents and we were filming in Prague. So it did help me being in Baton Rouge surrounded by people with the accent.
Question: What are you doing next, do you know?
Morrissey: I did a TV series in Britain last year – it’s coming out here on BBC America – called Viva Blackpool, which is a very dark, black comedy which is, about a guy who runs an arcade in what would be the equivalent of Coney Island in Britain called Blackpool and he’s trying to revamp the whole city. But it’s a musical as well. And so I just finished doing a one-off TV special of that. And I’m coming to L.A. and hopefully finding some work there, but nothing I can talk about until I’ve finalised details.
Question: But you’re obviously very happy the way your career is progressing at this point?
Morrissey: Yeah. I try not to plan. You know I’ve always been happy just to see what comes next and, and I don’t like to plan too far ahead. But, I’ve been , sitting in a very nice car on the way to the airport to fly back to L.A. after having a premier in New York so things are quite nice.