John Malkovich Discusses Jonah Hex
Posted 05.19.10 by BrentJS
It's a sign of how hot comic book movies have become that a second-rate superhero like Jonah Hex can attract the likes of two-time Academy Award-nominated actor John Malkovich.
In an interview from the movie's set, Malkovich discussed his character Turnbull, working with director Jimmy Hayward, and playing "energized" against Josh Brolin's "laconic" anti-hero.
Turnbull was a Southern plantation owner and very wealthy and very powerful. He feels Jonah has caused his son to be killed in a way, so there's a big sort of revenge factor there. Turnbull also leads a group of kind of marauders, former Confederate soldiers. Eventually he hopes to overthrow the government ... my character's not so much involved with [the supernatural]. Maybe a tiny bit. At a point in the story, Hex has kind of aberrations, and I appear very briefly as one of those, and we sort of work that out together. It wasn't really quite what's in the script.
Malkovich said that his portrayal of Turnbull was designed to serve as a counterpoint to Brolin's portrayal of Hex.
Well, I think one of the things we were looking at when we were looking finally at the script was to try and, you know, if the action can be constituted so Josh's character can remain quite laconic and non-verbal and iconic in a way and archetypical, then obviously that's preferable, which sometimes means that the other people have to do the blah, blah, blah and the exposition, which is also fun. So, with this, we just felt that it could kind of maybe go deeper than what was there originally. Why a bunch of grown men would sort of decide to overthrow the government.... So we wanted to try and communicate what these men feel, but in a fairly succinct [way]. This is by far the longest sort of ramble in the thing, but before that part really just sort of, in a way, said who they were, but we already know that.
Because of the subject matter and tone of the movie, Malkovich said that he was able to bring some of the skills he utilizes primarily in his stage performances to the set of Jonah Hex.
I mean, it's probably ... to make a very blanket statement, it's maybe more energized in a certain way than what one might do in some films. But, I think probably the skill set that is most important is comic books have certain archetypal notions and the skill set I would have though came in so handy was having worked so much on the scripts that you can say, well we can't really do that because it doesn't fit into this mold. But we can do it like this or we can do it like that and that would be absolutely fine. And so we've worked a lot of the text, especially the text my character has.
Malkovich said that he tends to defer to a movie's director in terms of deciding how his particular character is supposed to be portrayed, but that Hayward was open to his suggestions about Turnbull.
That really depends on who the director is and what you sense or feel is or is not required from you really. And with Jimmy, Jimmy's not a control freak, which obviously some of them are in a rather concerning way. I think Jimmy's quite collaborative, so on this I certainly feel more than welcome to offer a suggestion or ask a question. And yes, I probably prefer working that way, but I don't have to ... [Jimmy's] pretty open, I'd say. I think he responds to things. He seems quite instinctive, so he responds to the way something makes him feel in the frame and that's good. And if he wants more, he asks for more. If he wants less, he asks for less.
Jonah Hex also stars Megan Fox and Michael Fassbender.
Next Showing: Jonah Hex
opens June 18