Interviews - Bruce Kitchener
You're incredibly prolific in your Shakespeare work on stage (both comedy and tragedy), what gets you excited about acting Shakespeare on film?
In some ways the stage seems ill equipped to deal with many of the themes in Shakespeare's plays. Epic battles are followed by intimate encounters and large-scale ensemble scenes. Film offers a broader canvas and more complex palette.
What do you take away from the story of “Timon of Athens” - Misanthropos?
Timon appears to be trying to ingratiate himself with people who are part of the establishment, trying to gain acceptance among the elite (the false friends). It is not at all clear why he feels the need to do this and his false friends only seem to have their own self-interest in mind, being as false to each other as they are to Timon. They seem like self-serving politicians who will do anything to put themselves ahead of the rest. They are part of on establishment that only bloody insurrection can bring down.
You're one of the "false friends" that plague Timon, would you call your group the antagonists of the film?
In part yes, but in true tragedic fashion Timon is the cause of his own downfall.
What do you focus on when it comes to the motives for how you treat Timon?
Timon is a general and gets his hands dirty in a way that Lucius would never contemplate. Lucius sees himself as superior to Timon because of this. Obviously, the money he was given by the city for defending them makes him of interest to a businessman like Lucius, but it is a business arrangement. There is no malice in how I treat him. It’s just business.
If you had to speculate: how far would Lucius go to get what he wants? What line would he not cross?
Everything Lucius does is carefully calculated. He is not really a risk-taker. If he lends you money, it will only be because you have provided collateral. He may scheme and manipulate but he always protects his own position.
The role of ritual is key in this film, how do you feel your character is part of/or away from such ceremonies?
Lucius would follow all rituals because they are an indication of his high status. Knowing the rituals and how to behave is a cornerstone of the hold the establishment has over the lower classes.
What previous role have you done, that you feel helps inform you on the motivations or character of Lucius?
I played Egeus in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. A person of similar rank to Lucius and someone who is keen to defend his family’s honour, as he would see it, not allowing an unsuitable connection with his family.
How has the process been for you, thus far?
I think I have been able to find the character of Lucius with Maximianno’s help but there’s a way to go to get that translated onto film. I’m looking forward to the next stage.
What do you expect from a Director?
Obviously, the director creates the particular universe in which the action takes place and has to communicate that to the actor. I think the main thing for me now is feedback on how the performance reads on camera.
Lastly, what will happen to your character after? Do you feel there is hope for your character/for the world, by the end of the film?
It looks bad for Lucius as, no doubt, Alcibiades would see him as offending Timon, but Alcibiades leaves it up to the Councillors to decide who will pay with their lives. No doubt, Lucius will use his influence and money to avoid such a fate. I think he may well retire with a large pension pot akin to Fred Goodwin (of RBS fame).