Rhys Ifans has had quite the varied past 12 months. From appearing as Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 to portraying the Earl of Oxford in Anonymous and his role opposite Emily Blunt in The Five-Year Engagement, that alone would make some actors' careers. But Ifans is not done as he is the embodiment of evil as his character Dr. Curt Connors evolves into The Amazing Spider-Man's the Lizard.
Meeting with Movie Fanatic recently in New York City, the U.K. actor told how he culled his theater background to work with the imagination that filming alongside a green screen requires.
“Theatrical training really helps when it comes to green screen performance and stuff like that. In the theater you do have to apply your imagination a lot more than you would on a film set,” Ifans said.
“Generally, if you're looking at a New York landscape in a film they fly you to New York and you look at the landscape. In the theater, you have to conjure it all in your mind.”
The biggest challenge of Ifans' wasn’t the green screen, acting across Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker or finding Connors' motivation for turning into the Lizard.
“I would have to sit in a makeup chair for up to seven or eight hours with four makeup artists -- and I do emphasize the word artists -- working on various parts of my body, applying these silicon pieces and painting each scale individually. After seven hours in a chair with not nearly enough cigarettes, I was kind of in the right mental state to play a man who is about to transform into a nine-foot lizard.”
Ifans is quite a rock and roller in his own right, having recorded music on many an occasion. Knowing that, director Marc Webb played music while Connors was transforming into the Lizard to aid with his actor’s effort.
“When we were shooting the scene where Connors for the first time sees his new hand appear through this kind of reptilian cocoon, Marc played Velvet Underground's Heroin, on set. It's a beautiful song about addiction. So we let this whole song run and let this hand appear and it was really moving,” Ifans said.
“We didn't use it in the movie, of course. But that's the way Marc works -- we were kind of supplied with a soundtrack a lot of the time. That's the rock 'n' roll bit.”
Given Heroin’s message of addiction, Ifans saw it as a brilliant choice especially considering his opinion on what he thinks Dr. Connors goes through when he becomes the Lizard.
“The drug he takes gives him this sense of euphoria and the strength of 10 men, I guess something like crystal meth. And that feeling becomes addictive to Connors and that's why he keeps returning to the Lizard because when guys are on these drugs they feel so brilliant they want the rest of the world to feel as good as them, even though it's ultimately destructive to themselves and everyone around them,” Ifans said.