Jamie Bell

“I Would Like to Strike a Balance“

Words: Rüdiger Sturm
Photo (left): Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Jamie Bell has explored a multitude of roles that most actors never even dare dream of

From Billy Elliot to Tintin – Jamie Bell has explored a multitude of roles that most actors never even dare dream of. The British actor talks to the The Red Bulletin about his most recent transformation into the rocky superhero The Thing in the new Fantastic Four movie.

THE RED BULLETIN: When you take on a part like The Thing in Fantastic Four, you must be aware that the audience will hardly ever get to see your face. Isn’t that a bit of a problem for an actor?

JAMIE BELL: I don’t think so. I see it as an opportunity to remove yourself from the process and become something different altogether. I find the process of performance  quite intriguing. It’s an opportunity to play characters you would never get to play – creatures, gorillas or men made of rocks. It’s a good tool do to away with vanity. Having said all that, a performance capture character is an amalgam of so many people’s work. The actor, the director, the visual effects supervisor, many, many animators. It’s very much a collaboration. So I see a lot of pros to express yourself viscerally.

You have also played very intense dramatic roles like the sadist in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac for example. What are the pleasures of doing a big comic book extravaganza like Fantastic Four in comparison?

I have always scaled both worlds. I enjoy auteur-directors like Lars von Trier or Cary Fukunaga, with whom I did Jane Eyre. It’s important to work with them, because it’s there that you get to flex different muscles. But there is no denying that studio films are important. They offer you luxuries other films don’t. I would like to strike a balance between the two, and I have been fortunate to enjoy both of those things.

Fantastic Four, starring Jamie Bell as The Thing is showing in cinemas now 

© 20th Century Fox // YouTube

Is the actual process of preparation for a film like Nymphomaniac different from Fantastic Four?

Not particularly. It’s all about the character first and foremost. But in these big movies like Fantastic Four you’ll always have more of a sense of the audience that you are making it for. You don’t really think about the audience at all in other films. You think about the film process, how to bring the character to life, how to tell the story and the narrative arc. This is the most important part. In a movie like Fantastic Four you always have to be aware of what kind of movie you are in.

“It’s an opportunity to play characters you would never get to play.“
Jamie Bell

But doesn’t that confine you in your creativity when you are thinking about the audience?

Ultimately you have to make everything for yourself. I never played this character to please people. I played him to realize the vision of Josh Trank. I was part of a mechanism in a bigger picture. And I did the job he wanted me to do. But in some ways you are always thinking ’This is a movie people are going to enjoy on a Friday or Saturday night, with a bag of popcorn and their family and their friends.’

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