Actor Tobias Menzies talks about the link between words on paper and words on screen and the double bill he has chosen for our inaugural film season Ink On Screen.
The star of Outlander, Game of Thrones and Casino Royale, has chosen two powerful movies for the film strand of the Mayfair & St James's Literary Festival.
Don't Look Now and Under the Skin will be shown at the Regent Street Cinema in October.
Here Tobias, who is about to take over from Matt Smith as Prince Philip in hit series The Crown, speaks to our film season producer Justine Waddell.
Why did you choose Don’t Look Now and Under The Skin?
“I had been a huge admirer of Under The Skin since its release in March 2014. For me it's one of the best films made in the last decade and certainly the finest British film of recent years.
“I actually wasn’t aware Jonathan Glazer’s film was, loosely, an adaptation. So when I discovered that it was based on a Michel Faber novel, I jumped at the chance to have this wonderful film shown on a big screen again.
“Then I had to think of a companion film, and initially I looked at the films of Kubrick given his obvious influence on Glazer’s work generally and Under The Skin in particular.
“But as soon as I thought of Don’t Look Now, it felt like it would make a very satisfying double bill with Under The Skin.
“Both are British independent films made by British directors with highly original and authentic voices.
“They are two films that take the written word and create a highly cinematic and visual language to deliver a haunting and deeply unnerving story.”
Are you a fan of Nicholas Roeg’s films generally and have you met [filmmaker] Jonathan Glazer? Do you see him as a successor to Roeg’s style of filmmaking?
“Watching Don’t Look Now was a seminal, early film experience for me (watched on a TV set – sorry Nic), and a film that I have returned to over the years.
“On a purely aesthetic level, it is an astonishingly beautiful film, the colour palette, the framing and composition – it’s gorgeous.
“But that beauty is never decorative, it is harnessed to the narrative of the film, the psychology of the film, woven into its deep subconscious currents.
“I don’t know what influence Roeg’s work has had on Glazer’s, but there seems to me to be a similar dynamic visual confidence that is used to powerful and unsettling psychological effect.
“I’ve never met Jonathan Glazer, my only highly tangential connection to Under The Skin is that I was living and working in Glasgow when I saw the film.
“I was shooting a TV show called Outlander in and around the city that is a big part of the atmosphere and look of that film.”
Is there such a thing as the British style?
“I don’t know if there is a British style. I feel it’s easy to caricature it as Guy Ritchie gangster films and Richard Curtis romantic comedies.
“But there are a real range of British filmmakers working today, from Ken Loach to Joanna Hogg to Andrew Haigh to Danny Boyle to Mike Leigh to Andrea Arnold to Kevin MacDonald to Shane Meadows to Sam Mendes to Edgar Wright, and on and on.”
How did you come to be involved in Game Of Thrones? Do you think long format TV is changing the way we watch and what we expect from films?
“Game Of Thrones is obviously an adaptation of a series of books by George R. R. Martin.
“I hadn’t read them before I got cast in the show, but read the first novel before/during filming. It’s a very complete and detailed world that Martin has written and the show has been faithful to that.
“In a simplistic way, a long-form TV series has much more time to realise the different aspects and characters of a book than a film does.
“But, yes, I think the incredible flourishing of serial television that has happened over the last 10/15 years has impacted how we watch film.
“TV used to be the poor cousin, but now there is work being made in television, particularly US television, that rivals cinema.”
“And that’s exciting, the rich and robust exchange of ideas and talents that is now happening between film and TV, I believe, is really creative.”
Don't Look Now is at The Regent Street Cinema on October 28th.
Under the Skin is at The Regent Street Cinema on October 30th.