Jonathan Pryce: ‘I’d rather be Welsh than English, that’s for sure’
News | 16.09.2018
The award-winning actor on playing a narcissistic writer opposite Glenn Close in The Wife, his Welsh roots, and looking like the pope
Jonathan Pryce has played Shakespearean heroes (Hamlet, Shylock, Macbeth), starred in musicals, is the winner of Tony awards (Comedians and Miss Saigon) and now, at 71, has been cast three times as a self-absorbed novelist. He played a loathsome author-mentor in the film Listen Up Philip, is currently rehearsing as another novelist in Florian Zeller’s new play The Height of the Storm, and plays curmudgeonly narcissist Joseph Castleman, winner of a Nobel prize for literature, in Björn Runge’s new film The Wife, opposite Glenn Close.
What are the challenges of performing an intensely self-absorbed, often childish writer like Joseph Castleman? And how often do you feel like a child yourself?
He is very well drawn, although I’ve not read Meg Wolitzer’s novel because reading [the original work] alongside a screenplay can confuse you and make you want things that are not there. Castleman’s self-absorption is outward, he is the public face in the relationship with his wife. How often do I feel like a child? I’ve thought about this but never talked about it. I’m still the person I was born as…. As a child, play, drawing and painting were important to me – they still are. When I look back at how I reacted in my 20s and 30s, I realise I don’t lose my temper as often now. I can tell stories to other actors about the level of aggression on stage in the 70s between actors – it was unbelievable.