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Ben Whishaw - Playing Q was a bit like doing a Shakespeare role

30-Nov-2012 • Skyfall

English actor Ben Whishaw got his big break playing the title role in a Trevor Nunn-directed Hamlet in 2004. The Danish Prince seems a fitting motif for an actor who manages to convey so much of the inner workings of his characters with nuance and suggestion.

Dazzling turns in art-house films Perfume and Bright Star, and his current performances as Q in James Bond blockbuster Skyfall, and as a star reporter in BBC series The Hour, are now being followed by existential epic Cloud Atlas in which he appears alongside Tom Hanks.

Whishaw remains the actor’s actor: intensely private and as outside of the tawdry circus of stardom as his unique talent allows.

He talked to the Independent about this roles.

Q: One of your latest roles is Q in the new James Bond, a character totally associated with Desmond Llewelyn. How did inheriting a role change your approach?

BW: I was quite nervous. In a way though it’s a bit like doing a Shakespeare role that’s already been inhabited by many other actors. I’m quite used to that feeling now. I try not to let it weigh on me much and just play the character as I see it.

Q: Many actors cite a particular change in appearance, for example a wig or costume change that signifies the beginning of their playing a character. Is the external changing of your appearance, with costume and make-up an important role in developing a character?

BW: I love the element of acting that’s dressing up – yes. That’s where it all stems from I think - the child’s dressing up box - it’s playing. I love how wearing someone else’s clothes can make you feel different, move differently, even think differently. I’m always clear in my head that the character I’m playing is very distinct from me and at the same time so much of you ends up leaking into the character. It’s an odd business.

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