37-year-old Aussie actor David Wenham came to notice in his home country with the disturbing 1997 film “The Boys” in which he played a violent and murderous sociopath, before becoming a household name in the hit series “Sea Change”. Wenham has also appeared in many major international film successes including “Moulin Rouge”, “The Bank”, “Dark City”, “The Beach”, “Cosi”, “Better than Sex” and appears alongside Hugh Jackman in the upcoming “Van Helsing”. However its his work in this and the third “Lord of the Rings” movie in the role of ‘Faramir’ that’s expected to garner him international major attention and the actor seemed quite excited about it when he spoke to the local press last week.
Question: What’s it like working with a CGI character?
Answer: “The fact is I didn’t. Everything that you saw in the character of Gollum was created by Andy Serkis, everything. So all the scenes that I was involved in, Andy Serkis was there 100% of the time which made it a fascinating working experience. That guy I can’t speak highly enough of, we’re doing scenes where he actually turns between Smeagol and Collum and he’s actually doing it before your very eyes, not just vocally but physically. So its very strange to try and convince people that everything up there on the screen with Gollum, everytime the eyes move, everytime the mouth moves – its Andy Serkis, everything. Every movement of that character is Andy Serkis.
Question: What were your first impressions when you walked onto the set the first time?
Answer: “Pretty awe inspiring. Massive place. It was overwhelming the size of it…it looked exactly like the illustrations that Alan Lee had drawn many years ago…which was rather freaky but also wonderful as an actor because it wasn’t hard to dispell your belief going into that world”.
Question: How did you become involved?
Answer: “I had to put down a screen test which I did, and it got sent off to New Zealand and a couple of weeks afterwards they offered me the role of Faramir. I’d never read the books before I even screen tested, I knew of them but I hadn’t read them – but as soon as I was offered the role it was off to the bookshop, and purchase a copy and try and get through it as quickly as possible. I regret it now I hadn’t read the books as a kid as I wish I had all that in my mind for that period of time because its a fabulous tale and a fabulous world to have with you”.
Question: How long where you down in New Zealand?
Answer: “My days were concertinaed and I brought up the last part of the shoot – I was there four and a half months or so. It was exhausting but you didn’t really think about it because people were so obsessed and so passionate about telling the story, and just so incredibly grateful that they were part of it”.
Question: Do you feel an added sense of responsibility being part of a such a major cult hit?
Answer: “In all honesty I try not to think about it too much because I don’t think I would’ve turned up on set if I had thought about the responsibility that we carried with the fact that so many people around the world know these characters as well if not better than I do. I’ve read the book a couple of times now, I’m involved in the movie, but when it comes to the intricacies of Middle-Earth I’m the first to admit that there’s people far more knowledgeable about it than I am. In terms of responsibility in playing a character that people sort of know, its slightly daunting because there is a difference between the book and the film – especially with the character of Faramir. Peter and the writers made a decision to give the character more jeopardy than he has in the book to increase the dramatic tension. If you shot what was in the book, the character doesn’t change – he’s inherently not dramatic and you couldn’t put that up on screen. So hopefully the people who are obsessed with the Tolkien novel will understand that, and go along with it. I think they will, all those people have trusted Peter so far and I don’t think that’s going to change”.
Question: As you were playing his brother, did you talk with Sean Bean at all?
Answer: “Yeah I did, but after we both completed filming. Its rather odd I must say, shooting and knowing that my brother was in the film before me that we never met. When I was over there though I did have access to Sean’s rushes, I could view footage so I could know what my ‘brother’ was doing which was a big help”.
Question: What’s your involvement in the next one?
Answer: “The only new character in the third film is Denethor, which is Faramir & Boromir’s father so you get to see exactly what their family life is like which will make people a little more appreciative of the stress and tension which Faramir was under in this particular story leading a group of rangers through Ithilien, hunting orcs, coming across the ring, finding out his brother is dead, and then having a father who doesn’t particularly like him and wishes he died as opposed to his brother”.
Question: Do you think you’d do another trilogy?
Answer: “If it was as good as this but I don’t think you’ll get another as good as this. If there was a brilliant story that you could cut into three films sure, but I haven’t read one”.