Jamie Bell steals scenes left and right in Man on a Ledge. The actor, who got his start in Billy Elliot and riveted us in The Adventures of Tintin, sits down for an exclusive chat with Movie Fanatic to talk about all of the above.
In the thriller Man on a Ledge, Bell portrays the brother of Sam Worthington. His character is integral in the plot to prove Worthington's innocence while simultaneously getting revenge on the man who did him wrong (Ed Harris). Bell tells us exclusively about the process of making Man on a Ledge and his challenge while filming the stop-motion The Adventures of Tintin.
Movie Fanatic: You, as we all know, shot to fame as a kid in Billy Elliot. How did you find your way into show business at such an early age?
Jamie Bell: I started dancing when I was six. There never was an objective behind it at all. I had hoped that it would move me out of my hometown. I might be able to get down to London, a bigger city. But then, I made my first film, it was by chance that it even came about. That was another decision that was driven by something else. I didn’t necessarily want to be an actor. I wanted to be in movies. I just gradually fell in love with it, really. I really liked being somebody else. Ever since then, it’s been the same thing including a love for the craft and enjoying what I’m doing. I love the travel and playing parts that expose me to different periods and collaborating. It’s one of the more collaborative industries, it requires that of you. I like all those people, all working towards the same goal.
Movie Fanatic: Do you think you’re still learning about the craft as you go along?
Jamie Bell: I think so. I don’t think you can ever be fully versed in this craft -- especially when you work with so many different people. You learn from their ways of doing things. Each new person you work with presents an opportunity to learn something.
Movie Fanatic: Man on a Ledge, when you first read the script, what struck you the most?
Jamie Bell: The layering of the storylines. The way the story unfolds, the way it surprised me. I feel like it lives up to the promise of the genre -- also, the fun-ness of my character. I got to do most of the fun stuff in the movie [laughs]. Just to be a part of a big movie, that is always good.
Movie Fanatic: It could easily be Sam Worthington’s movie, but at the end of the day, it is really an ensemble piece with Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Ed Burns and Anthony Mackie…
Jamie Bell: Yes, totally! Everyone is playing their part to fulfill the greater good of the whole movie, which fills in all the blanks and creates the big picture. To be part of a collection of all those talented people, it’s really great.
Movie Fanatic: One of those is Ed Harris, such a powerful actor. What did you take away from the Ed Harris experience?
Jamie Bell: His understanding of character. He can take something that seems somewhat generic, and inhabit it behaviorally unlike anyone else. His approach was to completely embody something. He plays a great bad guy. He’s so calm and collected. He is still his character between takes. He understands the language of his craft. That’s what actors aspire to do.
Movie Fanatic: This movie is a suspense thriller, but would you agree that at its heart it is a film about redemption?
Jamie Bell: It’s about the proving of innocence and fighting for something you believe in, while upholding the truth. But, yeah, it’s also a ride. It’s a quick pace movie.
Movie Fanatic: How was it working with Steven Spielberg on The Adventures of Tintin?
Jamie Bell: When you’re an actor, you want to set your bar really high and try to work with those people who do that too. Steven is clearly one of those people. He is a master of visual storytelling. Working with Steven, it was a great lesson in how to stay young in this industry. I think he made that movie like it was his first. He has such a passion for movies. You can’t exhaust him. He’s spontaneous as a filmmaker. He loves performers. And he’s a regular guy at heart. He’s also a collaborator who isn’t afraid to say, “I need help with this.” I found that really refreshing. His collaboration with Peter Jackson was monumental -- two very successful directors who came together. Making Tintin, it was Steven’s first foray into a different world and medium. To see him harness that was so inspiring.
Movie Fanatic: Was the stop-motion filming an added challenge in The Adventures of Tintin, or is it that, at the end of the day, you are just playing a part?
Jamie Bell: With motion capture, there is no environment. You have to become your environment. At its core, it’s still performance in the same way you would in a live-action movie.