Actors Eddie Izzard and Noah Taylor stopped by the world famous CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con 2014 to talk about their roles in “Powers,” PlayStation Network’s first original program adapted from the long running comic book series created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. The actors spoke about their different approach to the characters and how Taylor sketches out his characters himself in order to better understand the roles he embodies.
On playing Wolfe on “Powers” and what drew Izzard to the character:
Eddie Izzard: That is it. And if you really know my stuff I have a schizophrenic career, which drives agents and managers crazy because they say “You’ve got to pick one,” and I say “No, I’m not,” or “You’ve got to kill one,” because Bill Murray, I feel, that “Ghostbusters” audience — he has said “I’m not there anymore, you expect me to come and say, ‘This bitch is toast.'” Which was great, we love Bill Murray in that, but Bill Murray in “Hyde Park on Hudson” was beautiful. He should’ve got Oscar nominated for that. That’s such a journey, and I want to do these both at the same time. Still doing the stand-up, still doing it in different languages, but playing a character like Wolfe, coming out of “Hannibal” I want to play characters that are layered. They can be dark, they can be light, they can be whatever. But they’ve got to be layered and I’m very ready to do this right. I think it’s quite a tricky role, and he’s a minor character from the comics, but we’re taking him off into a place — I’m not sure where we are going.
Noah Taylor: Small but significant character.
Izzard: Yes. In the comics?
Izzard: And he’s slightly larger and significant in this dark — but I’m keeping away from, like he’s the bad guy because I think he should be a beguiling character, and charming. You know Hitchcock said, “All the bad guys have got to be charming, otherwise why the hell would anyone listen to them.”
On the approach to bringing Johnny Royalle from the printed page to the screen:
Taylor: Well, I do a bit of drawing myself. I paint stuff. And when I take on a role, usually, it’s based on the text of the script. I often start — the first thing I do is draw sketches of how I see the character. That sort of informs the way I’ll play it. This has actually been really great to have a visual reference to start with and that kind of informs the performance. I’m quite a visual person.
Izzard: You’ve never said that before.
Taylor: Yeah I do that. So it’s great to have something pre existing to — there’s one particular drawing I saw where he’s sort of like, has his eyebrow cocked, and sort of loose figure, and that sort of told me a lot about him to start off with. He’s a very complex character. Kind of a damaged character, and he has a public persona, but the real Johnny Royalle is a sort of very different creature. I like the sort of ambiguous nature of him like whether he is pure villain or you know — I like things not to be one hundred percent clear.
On Taylor sketching out his characters, and if he has shown his work to the comics artist Michael Oeming
Taylor: No, I mean I have stuff online, and I exhibit in galleries, but it’s very different. The sketches, I find that when I’m drawing a picture, aside from my own stuff I have to — my face will sort of imitate what I’m drawing. To draw a face you have to kind of put on the expression to feel it. And it works the other way around by drawing it I can feel the character.
On whether either Taylor and Izzard are comic book fans:
Taylor: I am.
Izzard: No. This is the weird thing. I look out on this and I really should have been. I was a junior comics thing, which is like the kids comics, which are not the what I feel more graphic novels, even though that is comics now. I didn’t do that. I put it down to dyslexia because I don’t — I got as far as war mags. We call them war mags, which were very World War II. And they were little graphic novel ads. I read those like gravy. I just went through those, because I was going to be in the army, I was going to do Special Forces. That was my plan. Instead I did all this. Definitely a safer career, but it’s a slightly different direction. Military history, I know a lot of it. I was a gamers player, then I got addicted so I dropped that. But I should’ve because it really is my area. But I watch the films instead, because I don’t need to read things and I can just inhale a DVD. But as you were saying, I like using the word sagas. They do go on in a saga like fashion. Like Beowulf onwards. It’s like the modern Greek gods, but with the stories from the Iliad and all that stuff.
Taylor: They’re Demi Gods. You know like, say, apart from Superman who’s an alien, what’s appealing about super heroes is they’re mortals with god-like powers. It’s that combination of human and the fantastic that is fascinating to me.
Izzard: Gods — there’s no down side. There’s no — the stakes are very low. “Hey I killed you.” “Well it doesn’t even matter.”
Taylor: All the great Greek tales, they’re not about Zeus and Olympus, they’re about the offspring of the Gods who have to sort of kill their own children or whatever, make these terrible decisions, things like that. The demi-god status, I think.
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