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November 2007
An Interview with Bruce Greenwood

An Interview with Bruce Greenwood

By Wilson Morales

November 19, 2007

Can you talk about the characters you play in ‘I’m Not There’ and what do you think they represent?

Bruce Greenwood: There are two characters that I play, Mr. Jones and Pat Garrett; and in a way I don’t think their intent is to represent anything specific although they serve the same function which to unmask the artist. Dylan’s personalities was something that the Jones character decided were insincere and disingenuous and the higher we raise our icons, the more exulted we make our profits; the more we think on some level that we are entitled to know their most intimate mind.

It seems that Mr. Jones represented the old guard of journalism and Bob Dylan came at the stage where he was trying to change things. Do you think Mr. Jones was looking for a story to break as opposed to knowing the man?

BG: I know for a fact because Todd and I spoke about this specifically that he is not intended to be the stiff representation of the older generation who won’t the accept the new thoughts and world view of a young artist. It more of an amalgam and is not expected to represent the establishment per se. That’s a sophisticatered question in a forum in which other people are asking banal questions when those questions are met with irony. He finds it insulting and the more he asks those questions, that brings him to ask yet another more penetrating question and when that’s sort of parried, and fended off, he finds it insulting. As journalist are not supposed to do, he lets his emotions rule the obsession which drives his questioning.

And what about the role of Pat Garrett?

BG: There’s a flicker of recognition of this old man who is losing touch with reality and there’s just enough history in Gere’s face that he thinks he recognizes him. That’s why he says, ‘I had a friend’. Then he literally unmasks him although as it was with Dylan, when you take one mask off, another would appear.

Are you a Bob Dylan fan?

BG: I was a fan since I was a kid.

Do you really know his music or just in passing?

BG: I was a really heavy fan as a kid during the late 60s, early 70s, and I suppose like many people, I listened to pop radio and then when FM came on, I listened to that, but I was more aware when he chose to get back on the public radar. When he dipped out of sight, I wasn’t one of those who followed his every move.

What did you learn about Bob Dylan from this film that you didn’t know before?

BG: I didn’t really understand before that his willingness to shed his previous personas and change directions was as courageous as it was.

Do you think it was deliberate?

BG: No. In a way I think it was deliberate but not in a cynical way. He was listening to his muse and chose to follow his muse whether or not the public followed him.

How did you come about where you are playing two parts in the film?

BG: It was just a phone call. Todd said, ‘I would like for you to play’ a role and I said, ‘Absolutely’ and then he said, ‘I would like you to play another one’, and I was like , ‘Okay’.

You mentioned that the both of them are trying to unmask him.

BG: And Todd wanted the same actor to play those roles as he wanted Christian Bale to play Dylan and the preacher. You don’t get that very often. That’s a real gift from a director.

Normally you play such authority figures. Is that something you look for in characters?

BG: It just happened in the last few years where I’m giving presidents and prime ministers. It’s not a tough role to have.

Is it the film or the character that you like?

BG: It depends. Sometimes I respond to the film as a whole and other times I’ll respond and be happy to be a part of it even if it’s something that’s not entirely new to me in terms of the character. I look at every character as a blank slate. I try not to repeat myself. I’m sure people think I do and it’s easier not to repeat yourself if you don’t have to walk into a room and order everyone around.

What’s your favorite song of Dylan?

BG: You know, I don’t really have a favorite song. There are so many. I can pull out half a dozen songs at any given time and think it’s the best thing I ever heard.

What do you think has kept you in the game to get good roles?

BG: Perhaps because I really, really enjoy it. I don’t consider it work. I go to work feeling positive every day. I don’t really have an answer. I wish I could up with some gem of insight to properly answer that but I can’t.

Why should anyone see ‘I’m Not There’?

BG: There’s a ton of reasons to go see it. This movie to me is like a movie Escher. It’s a surrealistic trip through a period of time in world, in particular North America was changing rapidly and had the opportunity to redefine itself and one of the artists that was at the leading edge of that thing was Dylan and seeing his journey through the prism and lenses of Todd Haynes…brilliant interpretation of these six personas and supported by the music of Dylan himself and the poetry and insight of his lyric is a fascinating; and really the movie is a work of art.

I’M NOT THERE opens on November 21, 2007


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