An Interview, not always serious

A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde,
03/09/10 11:03


Jekyll or Hyde? (Or, if you prefer, Britney or Christina?)
Hyde is bad through and through, whereas Jekyll, like the rest of us, is an admixture of good and bad.

I’ll take sugar over salt, happiness over money, coffee over tea, cycling over walking, karma over dogma, breakfast over lunch, PC over Mac, girls over boys, Stevenson over Scott, two wheels over four, Edinburgh over Glasgow, Stewie over Lois, good mornings over bad nights, this over that and almost any music at all over either Britney or Christina.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Who would play you in the US remake?
I’d love it if they used a sock puppet to play me in the Scottish film of my life and a sock puppet with an American accent for the US remake.

All the other characters would be played by actual people, but I’d be a sock puppet. And occasionally someone would sit down and take his shoes and socks off and I’d get all melancholy and a song like REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ would start up in the background and I’d crumple up beside the guy’s shoes and cry sock tears beside my two inert, rancid friends. That would be sad and beautiful. Ooh! I just got an idea for my next book.

Best advice for a method actor playing Robert Lewis in A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde?
Quit mumbling. Eat more vegetables. Be considerate of others.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (and did you take it)?
‘Don’t listen to me.’ I did.

Have you ever pretended to be something or someone you’re not to get something … or someone? How did that work out for you?
I don’t play the ‘don’t-you-know-who-I-think-I-am’ card. I did once randomly meet a guy dressed in a tartan suit at an event in New York who, it turned out, had the same name as me; I could maybe pretend to be him? He was a Scot-made-good in Noo Yawk City – he made many, many bucks out of Manhattan property. He bought me an amazing tuna steak, which he pronounced ‘too-na’ and I pronounced ‘tshoooona’. Come to think of it, he was my successful doppelganger and I should’ve thought of dedicating this novel to him.

What novel or film would you like to live in?
For spiritual practice: ‘Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring’.
For camaraderie and laughs: ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ or a good Laurel and Hardy.
For sheer intense passion, ‘Brief Encounter’ or ‘Before Sunrise’.
In fact, my life is more like something you’d see on ‘You’ve Been Framed’.

Just two years after Robert Louis Stevenson published the original Jekyll and Hyde he left the UK for warmer climes. Where in the world would you go and how – if at all – do you think it would affect your writing?

I’d love to go to Japan. I imagine I’d write more haiku:

writing a love letter
too quickly, I upset
my cup of green tea

Or senryu:

in the heart of town
two santas

You can change one thing about yourself. What is it?
I’d become much better at time-travelling. Amateur time-travelling these days just isn’t what it’s going to be. Have you seen what they did next year?

Why write? What is it you seek in the act of writing?
All I’m looking for is a container for my own feelings. And feelings, I find, are full of implications and ideas. I’m trying to make sense of life.

Do you know any good literary anecdotes?
Hundreds! Everyone knows the witty ones, but here’s the saddest. John Cheever won the prestigious O. Henry Award and the next time he saw his mother she said to him, ‘I read in the paper that you won a writing prize.’
‘Yes,’ he says, ‘but, you know, I just didn’t tell you about it because it really wasn’t terribly important to me.’
‘No,’ says his mother, ‘it wasn’t to me either.’

Finish this sentence, “Kevin MacNeil’s novel A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde is …”
‘…his best novel ever.’ (Jekyll)
‘…his best novel since the last one. Which was even worse.’ (Hyde)

Tell us a joke (a clean one):
Credit where it’s due, this one belongs to Emo Phillips:
‘I once posed nude for a magazine….I’m never going back to that newsstand.’

What is the worst Christmas present you ever received? Names can be changed to protect those involved.
A second-hand T-shirt that couldn’t have looked cool first-hand.

You can change one thing about people in general. What is it?
I’d uninvent smoking. Or I’d make it legal to throw a bucket of water on anyone who smokes in public. Carcinogenic water. That would make sense. Oh, I should definitely be king. And I’ll insist on calling my house World Headquarters. Second thoughts, don’t make me king. 

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