Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

October 8, 2005

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:53 pm

Actors on playing Mr Rochester…Part One.

Thanks are due to thisbeciel, and biedroneczka!

William Hurt:

“I had read the book a long time ago, and when the project was first mooted, I went back to the book and was blown away by it. The more I delved, the more inspired I became by it. It is a great work of art and it has been a privilege to spend time with it,” says William Hurt.

“Rochester is a wonderful character; he rises out a great romantic figure with tremendous energy and power. Of course I have to throw away everything that is not useful in realizing the work – other people’s reputations, their vision, don’t have to be mine. I can’t think of him as a hero, I have to let the structure of the work do that. I can only think of him as a human being or I give myself added pressure if I see him as a famous role with a lot of expectations riding on the piece. As an actor I have to put those expectations aside and look at him freshly: he is very much at the centre of many conflicting loyalties; he is compelled and repelled, and he is really at the crossroads of many different forces. The fact that other actors have played him is not important: roles are made to be played by different actors. What frightens me is what Charlotte Brontë might think of me as Rochester!”

Timothy Dalton:

“I think why it worked so well was because, in truth, it’s such a good part. What a blow to the image! Rochester is tough and hard, short-tempered and curt on the one hand, and concealing a soul that’s been hurt and made sensitive. So you have a lot of the qualities that really appeal to women in Rochester, and I was simply lucky enough to be playing him.

“When I play another kind of character that is not so pleasant I get just a trickle of letters. Some women who’ve seen several things I’ve done write in to tell me when I’ve done something right, and when I’ve done something wrong, along the lines of ‘I wish you wouldn’t do this kind of thing. I much preferred you as Heathcliff. Why don’t you do more things like that?’

“The fact is, we’ve all got to work; we have all got to do the parts that are offered to us, whether they turn out ultimately to be good or bad. In America they would largely agree with my correspondents: if you find an image that works, then stick with it. So there’s some sense in that; maybe I should play Rochester for the rest of my life!

“There’s got to be a bit of yourself in it. I don’t think you can be a good actor unless you reveal something of yourself. You’re revealing a character through the knowledge you have of yourself and the life around you. Yes, I can see certain elements of myself in Rochester… Of course, Rochester was no fisherman, while fishing is my obsession.”

Next time… Michael Jayston and Ciaran Hinds.

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