Under The Mountain: Interview with Oliver Driver
Oliver Driver is the new Mr Wilberforce for the 2009 version of Under The Mountain. Oliver last worked with director Jonathan King on Kiwi horror comedy Black Sheep.
tvnz.co.nz-So you're a boogeyman for the 21st
Oliver Driver - Yeah it's such a cool thing to play Mr Wilberforce - I mean I grew up having the beejesus scared out of me by him when I was younger and to play him has been really exciting.
The makeup must have been
quite gruelling to sit through?
Oliver Driver- 4 1/2 hours - Yeah it was and it really makes you quite isolated you can't talk cos you've got teeth in and can't see as you have contacts in, can't hear because you have ears on so you really just have to spend hours and hours sitting alone in the dark so that your face doesn't fall off.
tvnz.co.nz - That's a good place to find the
character from then?
Oliver Driver - It's nice because we wanted Mr Wilberforce to be this alien stuck inside this human shape - and I wanted it to be uncomfortable. I like the whole idea that he hated being in it and it was a pain and an effort to be in it - and it was this whole frustration of "Why am I wearing this face?" and so to actually be an actor who was going through that that made it easy it has to be said.
tvnz.co.nz - It seems to have been a dream set to have
been on and a great cast to have worked with?
Oliver Driver: Yeah - not so much for me as I was in make up sitting in my trailer! It was great for them from what I could see; I was getting a depression or felt like I had some kind of disease - I remember the moment which is etched indelibly in my mind was one day at the studio and the old school Mr Wilberforce (Bill Johnson, the real actor who played him), Maurice Gee and his wife came over and Helen Clark came out - there was all these people visiting from England as well from the co-pro company and it was a beautiful sunny day and all the buses were parked round... There was cast photos, there was music playing and then in one corner, a little boy waits in his tent - me sitting and not moving and watching all of this going on. It was just me sitting there growling - so it was great for the shoot because you get out and all you can think is "Yeah I'll kill everybody...."
tvnz.co.nz -So you weren't actually acting
Oliver Driver - No not at all (laughter).
It's the second time
you've worked with Jonathan King - it must be nice to be reunited
Oliver Driver - One of the joys of doing this and I've directed actors time and time again or been an actor for other directors is you develop a shorthand which makes it easier to work - you're not trying to go "Are you good?" Jonathan knows how I work and I know how he works and it so becomes a very simple fun way to work.
tvnz.co.nz - Mr Wilberforce is quite a terrifying
character - he doesn't say very much but when he does towards the
end, he's quite menacing.
Oliver Driver - Well by the end he's actually getting quite irritated with them - I often think of him like a shark or a wolf that's just thinking of the humans as inconsequential - it's like ants or worms really - you don't think about them. He just says "What about the humans? Kill them all" - and then the twins come along and he makes vague threats and he's not able to do it until that final bit at the end with the confrontation - it's only then he just starts to think "Oh you guys are going to pay - I was going to kill you quickly but now it's just let's hurt these kids."
tvnz.co.nz - Is it fun to be involved?
Oliver Driver -Working with Sam Neill was great - the kids were brilliant. The great thing was they really did the work and they didn't winge or complain as young actors can; they handled it right from the start and no matter how uncomfortable the shoot was they knew it would not last forever. So you just have to grin and bear it but yeah it was a fantastic group - but I just didn't get to talk to them loads - I spoke to the other Wilberforce guys but it was easier for them because they didn't have to wear too much make up. When they did, we were a bunch of sad sacks looking really depressed and angry. It was a weird thing because you'd have all these people asking you if you were ok and it was kind of "Yeah, I'm good" but at the same time going "Noooooo I want it off my face!"
Would you do it
Oliver Driver I think I would - it's one of those things when I was doing it, I'd go never again am I doing this, it's just horrible. But then you kind of forget afterwards and when you're doing interviews like this and you tell great stories about what a great job it was after time passes...If Jonathan called and said we need a marshmallow man I'd be like yeah cool - I'm on my way.
tvnz.co.nz -Would you inflict it on anyone as a
Oliver Driver Yes definitely - I'll get my revenge! It's only bad because I'm quite a social person and I like to interact with people. It was quite strange as it's the first time I've done that major stuff - if I ever did it again, I'd know exactly what I was getting myself in to. I'd work with Jonathan again at the drop of a hat. He knows what he wants to make and has such a vision - he's not precious about stuff so it becomes a fun environment to work on - he's very receptive to your own input and is open to you trying things.
tvnz.co.nz -The special effects look great - were you
surprised to see the end result?
Oliver Driver: Yeah totally - it looked amazing. It's all so bitsy when you shoot it as you have tape on your face and designs for the prosthetics; so seeing it altogether I was blown away by it. When Jonathan King is explaining to you what it's going to look like, you wish you could see inside his head because you don't get it - but ultimately it clicks and you go "Ahhh, I've got it." The main thing is I'm really going to have to step it up at my fancy dress parties - I really want to talk to the make up guys to see if there's any possibility for me to host the TV awards next year as Mr Wilberforce - that'd be genius.