If you go down to the woods today, you’d better go in disguise… Margaret Gardiner ventured out into the darkness, and tells more.
Joaquin Phoenix and Adrien Brody star in the new cotume-romance-monster-thriller, The Village.
In The Village, an isolated farming community has reached a truce with some mysterious creatures that haunt the Woods around them – they won’t go into the woods if the “monsters” don’t enter their village. But when one of the villagers needs medical help, a young man, Lucius Hunt believes it would be worth breaking their “agreement” to save a life. Is there a twist? Maybe – but that’s not the point of this unconventional romance.
Audiences remember Joaquin’s co-star Adrien Brody (he plays The Village’s village idiot, Noah Percy) not so much for his acting as for the way he took advantage of Halle Berry on Oscar Night – stealing a kiss from her just because he could. His next project is the remake of King-Kong, directed by The Rings’ trilogy master-mind, Peter Jackson.
This is a scary movie. What were your childhood monsters?
There was a book my mother read to me when I was young. It was the Whatzit or whatever (Harry and the Terrible Whatzit, by Dick Gackenbach). It used to lurk in the basement and I was always a little tentative under the stairs of the basement. I think there are things to be cautious about but it’s good not to live your life in fear.
Where and how do you live?
I live in New York – in a very small place. I shower outside. I have an outdoor shower. I cook outside. I keep it pretty simple. I travel a lot. It’s a good way to be so I don’t have an elaborate, palatial place.
How has your life changed since the Oscar?
The madness of it – there’s a lot to accomplish. The moment I’ve finished my list of things to accomplish a new list has accumulated. There seems to e more now to attend to. I have less time to hang out with my friends. I have no choice. There is only so much you can do in a day. Don’t even have time for work-outs.
You’re wearing a hat. Is that so you aren’t recognised?
Exactly that. I was walking down a street in Florida and everybody was looking at me and recognising me, so I bought a hat.
So now they don’t recognize you?
No, they still do.
We understand that the entire cast of The Village was put into a boot camp?
We had an opportunity to go off on, like, a camping situation where there were no rules and asked to do group activities.
Learn how to start a fire with no matches, learned how to make string with tree bark and have 19th century dance lessons. Instead of doing that I would go to the kitchen and steal some food and wine and go into the woods and light a fire and camp out and just have a good time. So I had a great deal of fun. There was no house. We lived in tents. I spent a number of days in the middle of the woods just sleeping with a sleeping bag and camping for the sheer excitement of it.
Did the director also camp out?
(laughing) No. He had a farm to retreat to.
What was the most surprising thing, the conveniences of modern life you missed?
You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to survive. Even making a meal of corn from start to finish. We learned everything. We would dry them and cut them all down. I cut my thumb, Joaquin cut his thumb. We were a bloody mess. We’d come back from the cornfields all pieces because it’s a struggle. You get up early and work ‘til it’s night just to get your basic necessities. I think it’s easier to pick up your cellphone and call for pizza.
What influence did your parents have on you growing up?
I am fortunate to have grown up with a real family unit and with a mother and a father. My father has a lot to do with the way I view women because he is very much a gentlemen and very gentle to my mother. My mother is outgoing, free-spirited and a creative force and has been a guiding light to me and inspirational. When you grow up in a home like that, that is not full of real turmoil and physical violence, then it’s easier to continue along the path. Not all women I’ve come across behave like my mother. (laughter) That’s shocking. That’s something to e afraid of. But you have to find the ones that are king and gentle and spiritual and creative and thoughtful – and those are the ones to settle down with.
Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Lucius Hunt, as an interesting guy – but he’s trying hard not to show it.
This is a scary movie. What scares you?
The twins in The Shining is an image I think I’ll never get out of my head. Every long hotel walkway I walk down, I think of those two girls (laughs). No, my parents taught us never to fear anything and not to fear the world, but embrace it. But I also nearly drowned when I was young and so dark water does freak me out.
How do you stay out of the public eye?
I only attend those functions if I’m contractually obliged to do so.
We hear you love to cook – did you do so for your colleagues?
Unfortunately for them, I did. I made a lovely broccoli pasta which no one (laughs), I don’t think it was very good.
You seem to be a man of few words.
It depends. I’m sure I have a lot of friends that say I’m loud and brash, and others that would say I’m shy. It depends who I’m talking to. I always wanted to play a mute in a film – play a range of emotions without using dialogue.
Because you’re shy?
Is that part of my personality? I’m not trying to hide it. I think that the press knows me, I’m curious what it would be like if just one of you were sitting where I am and I was sitting back there with you, what you’d be like. I don’t think you can really judge my personality under these circumstances. It’s probably when I’m most uncomfortable, to be honest.
You guys did a kind of boot camp to capture the time period. What did you have a hard time giving up?
I don’t have a cellphone. Don’t watch TV. Maybe my iPod. I like music.
That’s one. Sure.
Are you shy about expressing you feelings?
I don’t think I’m shy about expressing my feelings. I’m an actor so I think that I probably tend to emote quite a bit. It’s something you grow accustomed to.
-15 September 2004. tv plus.