Eddie Marsan interview: Jack The Giant Slayer and 3D Mike Leigh movies

While on the set of Jack The Giant Slayer, we had a chat with actor Eddie Marsan about blockbuster movies and 3D...

When we visited the set of Jack The Giant Slayer back in 2011, we made sure to grab a few minutes with Eddie Marsan, the British actor who recently has found the perfect balance between small independent films and big-budget movies.

While you may recognise him from his role as Inspector LeStrade in the two big-screen Sherlock Holmes movies, or perhaps his appearances in War Horse or Snow White & The Huntsman, he’s rightly lauded for his devastating performances in films like Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, or Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake and Happy-Go-Lucky. Now, he’s playing Craw, one of the princess’ retinue of loyal bodyguards.

In between takes, we made sure to ask about the difference between low-budget dramas and the 3D spectacle of Jack The Giant Slayer, and posed the burning question, will we ever see a Mike Leigh movie in 3D?

Over the last few years, you seem to be having a run of quite big films, most recently Sherlock Holmes. And now this one. What attracted you to it?

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I wanted to work with Bryan Singer, because I like his films. It’s good to do big movies like this, it’s good for your career. I do a lot of small, indie movies, and the more you’re in big movies like this, it’s easier for you to get smaller movies funded. I do these and then I do Mike Leigh, and then I cover all bases. 

How does the process of shooting a film like this compare to Mike Leigh’s films?

It’s completely different! But they demand the same result, which is a full character. The technology is very, very new, so if you change a lens, it takes 30 minutes rather than 30 seconds, so therefore you have to keep focus and attention over a longer period of time. So you have to keep your powder dry, you have to be ready when they need you.

Do you think we’ll ever see a 3D Mike Leigh film?

No, I don’t think so. I tell you why I don’t think the 3D would work for something like that. 3D dictates what your eye watches on the screen, and Mike Leigh puts things on the screen and allows you to study human life as it is. I always think of the scene in The Godfather where Marlon Brando says to the undertaker, “You will do me a favour one day,” and in the background there’s James Caan, and you know that half an hour later he’s going to clean up his body. You couldn’t do that in 3D, because in 3D you’d just have Marlon Brando stroking a cat and you couldn’t see anything else. The eye needs to be able to discern where it wants to look. So I don’t think it suits that film. 

Is it much different working with Bryan Singer?

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There’s not much difference, really. I’ve never worked with Bryan without 3D. 3D dictates how you communicate with the director, because he has to watch the technology and stuff. But we’re all getting used to that now. Like today, we all feel like we’ve adjusted to it. At first, the 3D is so cumbersome, rather than the director.

Eddie Marsan, thank you very much.

Jack The Giant Slayer is out in UK cinemas on the 22nd March.