Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sweet Talk With Jamie Sives: Our Interview on Valhalla Rising, Colin Farrell and Triage, Hallam Foe and the Allure of the Beard

Over the past years now this blog has contained news and opinions about Scottish actor Jamie Sives. This week, I was given the extraordinary opportunity to ask some questions of my absolute most favorite actor who graciously took time out of his busy schedule to do so. I still can scarcely believe it. I'm astounded that I could be so lucky, and am hugely grateful and very, very appreciative to Jamie and co for agreeing to this, truly, a once in a lifetime moment for any fan. What follows below are reflections and thoughts about his work on films such as the upcoming Valhalla Rising with Mads Mikkelsen, Triage with Colin Farrell, Sigma Films, Hallam Foe and Jamie Bell. We talked movies, music, plus yes, there is even talk about the beard.

2009 is the year of Jamie Sives, or so I said to the actor who is currently at work in London on Ghrinder Chadha's new film "It's a Wonderful Afterlife." Jamie is set to be seen on screen in two major motion pictures this year: Nicholas Winding Refn's Vahalla Rising, and Danis Tanovic's Triage. Right off the bat, I emphatically state my opinion how I view the year, and ask him about the two films, getting a quiet modest answer in reply: "Well, thank you. I too hope the films I did last year will do well on their releases this year. Valhalla Rising was great fun to do. I love going home to shoot a film and for me, there's no better place to be than The Highlands of Scotland."

Valhalla Rising of course is the latest effort from Nicholas Windig Refn which is due out in August of this year. Film City Glasgow, home to Sigma Films, served as a b
ase of operations for the film, and the production was well documented on YouTube, and occasionally, this blog. The film stars Mads Mikkelsen as a One Eye warrior in ancient days of Scotland, with buzz on the internet about the film calling this a Viking Film. Jamie spoke about his prep work for taking on the role of "Gorm," as well as working with the legendary Refn, who prefers to shoot chronologically, and as reported, portions of the movie are done in slow motion.

"The Vikings occupied most of Scotland for a very long time so we were playing the sons of the sons of the sons of Nordic Vikings and therefore, didn't have to do any hurdy gurdy accents. We all play Scots-born descendants of Scandinavian Vikings. My character is the quiet black sheep of the group and Nicholas very kindly allowed me to cut all my lines so I don't play the kind of Viking one might expect. My personal preparation will have to remain a secret, but all the actors read up on the history and attitudes to Gods, Myths and Superstitions of the time. Valhalla is not a film about Vikings so we didn't have to work too hard for authenticity. It's not a Viking movie. Nicholas hates them."

He continued: "Nicholas is a very clever guy and has an encyclopedic know
ledge of movies and how they are made. He had a very stylistic idea of how he wanted to make Valhalla, like he had when making Bronson, but can also do the realistic stuff brilliantly, like he did with the Pusher Trilogy, which, if you haven't seen then you should. Slow-motion is just a camera setting so we just acted as we would."

In 2002 Sigma Films released a lovely and ultimately uplifting film about a man who wanted to end it all, but found love and a life worth having before it was too late.
This award winning film was Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself and earned Jamie Sives a host of critical acclaim, and even a BIFA nomination for "Most Promising Newcomer." A co-star in Wilbur is a brilliant Danish actor who was only just beginning to become well known globally, Mads Mikkelsen. Jamie is about to embark on a third film working with Mads, as he broke the news to us of a new project as he recently joined the cast of The Clash of the Titans with Mikkelsen. On Mads:

"It was great to work with Mads again. He's a fantastic actor who really cares about the project he's working on. He's also a very funny guy. Everyone loved him. I'm working with him again at the moment on the re-make of Clash Of The Titans. We're in rehearsals for that and had the first read-thru today. Although I only play a small role in the film, some of my stuff will be with Mads. That will be the third time. I think we may get married. I'm looking forward to it. It's a big-budget, Hollywood movie with an incredible cast and by far the biggest thing I've ever worked on. I sat next to the beautiful Elizabeth McGovern at today's read-thru and she told me that Wilbur was her favourite movie and I her favourite actor. I was bowled over."


One day last year I got a text from a former colleague who, half laughing said hey Sue, AP is running some pics of a new film with the good looking dude from Miami Vice and I think that Scottish actor bloke you are gaga over is also in the film. You gotta ask if they want to come work for our side of the aisle now! Sure enough, there were set photos from Dan
is Tanovic's new movie, Triage, based on the novel by Scott Anderson, which features those most brilliant, complex, and fearless of media type: the war photographer. I was very curious to learn Jamie's thoughts on playing a such a role and taking on a part that hopefully will reflect with integrity and honesty the dedication and bravery these men and women show with their work. The first of what I'm sure will be a slew of similar questions regarding the media as they do press before the release of the film, I asked about taking on the part of a war photojournalist. Not only did he give some thoughts on his character's job, but Jamie Sives also speaks about the Oscar winning director and his co-star, acclaimed actor Colin Farrell.

"In Triage, Colin and I play photographers. I'm not too sure about t
he term 'photojournalist.' The photographers who work in war zones don't write anything. They take photos and send them home. These guys have to go where journalists dare not. Many war correspondents, although very brave, can cover most wars from the rooftop of a hotel but the photographers have to get right in there to get the shots. They sometimes work in tandem with a print journalist, but more often than not, they work alone."

"We had an amazing guy called Damir Sagolj as our advisor and he had
quite incredible stories on the places he worked and the things he witnessed. I happen to admire serious news journalism. They're committed to providing the world with the truth, and I'd hate to imagine just what greater liberties the powerful people of the world would take if journalists didn't question or expose them."

"Incidentally, I also think some of them make great screenwriters. Some of my favourites like Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder were journos.

On the subject of his well known and acclaimed co-star, Jamie had nothing but high praise for the Irish actor, who recently gave a brilliant Golden Globe winning performance in the hit film In Bruges.

"Colin Farrell is a beautiful
man. I couldn't begin to list his qualities. If I had the opportunity to only work with him for the rest of my career then I'd take it. He's a brilliant actor and works incredibly hard. He really raised the bar for me. Danis was wonderful with me. He showed trust in me right from the start. I keep in touch with Colin, Danis and Branco Djuric and value their friendship. It's just great to know guys like these, I feel very honoured."


Long time readers of this blog will know (hint, the title is a dead giveaway) that I am a fan not only of Mr. Sives, but also of the fine work done by the Scottish Film production company Sigma Films. I followed the 'making of' blog written by Colin Kennedy and subsequent release of their hit film "Hallam Foe" directed by David Mackenzie and starring the wonderful Jamie Bell. In the movie, Jamie Sives plays an unpleasant married fellow named Alasdair who is having an affair
with Kate played Sophia Myles, and is an even more unpleasant boss to Hallam, played by Jamie Bell. Jamie Sives has scenes that are uncomfortable to watch, as his character is so nasty to Hallam and has rough sex with Kate. I asked Jamie what it was like to take on such a part, and he answered "It wasn't hard to take on. It was, like everything I've done quite difficult to do. I find acting incredibly difficult. For me, its a difficult job. I have to prepare properly and if I don't, I haven't a clue what the fuck I'm doing. I've tried, out of curiosity, to just try and turn it on and only made an arse of it, so I try to do my homework."

Having done his homework, he routinely won critical praise in most of the reviews of the film for his solid performance in Hallam Foe, and the film was a winner too at various festivals before being released here in the US under a different name "Mister Foe." The actor had nothing but high praise again for the company behind the movie, Sigma Films, as well as for his co stars and the crew helmed by director David Mackenzie:

I'm sorry, but I don't have anything other than complimentary to say about both Jamie and Sophia. Jamie really does know what to do. Hits the ground running every time. I may be wrong but I'm sure that he does his homework too; he has everything covered.

Sophia was very professional - one has to be - it's a very odd situation to find yourself in. What ended up on-screen lasted for seconds but we spent almost an entire
day shooting it. The crew help you through things like that. They're very respectful, tactful and discreet and make it easier for the actor...Sigma is an amazingly prolific company, churning out quality films and everyone there works their wee socks off. Along with Richard Jobson, they're leading the way with their output."


By this point I feel I've been too serious and boring perhaps, and while it would have been really tempting to as
k him all sorts of fangirl things (what's your favorite food/color/ book/ group/actor/actress/tv show, boxers or briefs, or even 'wanna get a drink sometime?' ;) something in me snapped, and I could not resist a topic that I often joke and note here on the blog: his appearance. No, not his remarkably handsome face, but what's on his face- THE BEARD! This son of Scotland has sported a beard in several films of late, notably in the Passion, and in both the upcoming films for 2009. So frankly I wondered if it was just a coincidence or what for actors sporting beards for roles is a common thing of course, some artificial, some the real deal... but it turns out Jamie is all manly man, its all real- a real beard lover that is! :)

"Yeah, I love wearing a beard. When I'm not working I just let everything go so when I get a gig I have to shave, wash or cut my hair and stop eating junk food, if required. I don't have a beard for IAWA, but will sport as much as I can grow between the end of that and the shooting of Clash Of The Titans. The Passion beard was half the size of the Valhalla beard. I had more time to grow it and yes, it was all my own. I'm glad you enjoyed The Passion. It's not a bad wee yarn, is it?"

Speaking of beards, Jamie has a brief appearance in Last Chance Harvey where
he does sport a beard. I had to ask what it was like to work with the great star and Oscar winning actor of films like "RainMan," "Kramer vs Kramer" as well as classics like "Tootsie" and the superb "Midnight Cowboy." "Yeah, what can I say about working with Dustin Hoffman? I had just got back from shooting Triage in Spain and my agent asked me if I wanted to do one scene in a film. I said I'd rather not as I'd been busy and had a little break before Valhalla Rising, then he told me that that one scene would be with Dustin Hoffman and I said "When do I start?"


In just about every interview I've read with Jamie, they always bring up the plethora of jobs he had in the past before taking on acting. I was determined not to go there, for I wanted to know what other jobs he would like to do in the future. He said he'd quite like to try directing one day, but in the meantime isn't hankering for one particular role. Knowing full well things are tough all over with the current economic crises we are all dealing with, Jamie reflected, "
I'm happy just to keep the kettle boiling. Things are very difficult at the moment as work is thin on the ground, mainly due to the current crisis in the world but I would love to do an American movie, in America and as an American."

* note: I assure you that we here in America would welcome you at anytime, yep! :)*


In the meantime, Jamie is keeping busy with the new "Clash of the Titans" to look forward too and he is still finishing up work on Ghurinder Chadha's new film "It's a Wonderful Afterlife," where he plays a Police Detective. Jamie said of things currently in London: "I'm having fun on IAWA. Ghurinder is great and I'm working with the lovely Mark Addy and my mate Sendhil Ramamurthy, whom you may know from Heroes. He lives in LA, so its great to have him here for a while. He's also a good mate of my best friend JJ Feild, so we're all spending some time together."
IMDB is always full of interesting listings/castings to say the least, and as an ever vigilant fan, I asked him about a film that has been on his page forever. "As far as I know, Bonny Boys isn't happening. I don't know what is next, but I'm sure you'll know before I do. You don't miss a trick."

NOTE: At this point I, I, eh pretty much turn a trillion shades of red and am dead on the floor. dead.dead.dead.

He did continue on about fans, especially when asked about his beloved Hibs Football club, as he said "I'll always be a Hibs fan although I'm not a diehard. The supporters who spend their hard-earned cash to follow them all over Scotland every week for little or no reward are diehards, not me."

There was one last brilliant, no, AWESOME piece of news that he is not only just a music fan, but a musician. "I've spent the last six months writing and recording a demo album. Music's what I like to do in my downtime. I hope to have it completed by June and perhaps get it out there, we'll see. I'm very proud of it."

In parting, I asked this wonderful actor if he had anything he'd like to say to his fans and those who might be reading this, and he graciously said: "I'm very touched when I hear or know of anyone who appreciated my work. Thank you so much for your interest and your time. It means a lot to me.
Thanks again."

Much love love love and gratitude,

UPDATE: Thanks so much to and for mention/link to this interview, much appreciated


  1. Oh…… *thud*

    It is interesting to read that acting doesn't come naturally to him, that he does a lot of preparation, because it certainly does come off naturally in the finished product. Truly a great actor.

    His preparation for Valhalla is a secret – very intriguing! *LOL*

    What a wonderful, thoughtful, and dang it, handsome (reads hot, hot, hot!) man he is.

    And a muso to boot… is there anything he can't do?! *LOL* Well, I'm totally sold on him now (not that I wasn’t already 100% before – this from the very frustrated former muso I was!). If Jamie gets a CD out he's got one guaranteed sale with me! You go Jamie!

    Oh Sue, what a great interview, you go girl! Thank you ever so much and how lucky you are to have got the interview (yeah, you should have asked the fan girl stuff too! *LOL*)

    Thanks again Jamie for the interview, much appreciated.

    Okay, I have too much drool in the keyboard – time for it to be cleaned. *G*



  2. OMG this is such a great interview!
    And I'd like to say that even in Russia some people know about Jamie Sives and appreciate his work and are looking forward to his upcoming movies!

    Sue, you'tr awesome, thank you so much for doing this blog!!!!!

    Sorry it's quite a short comment (doesn't look like me at all LOL), but I really have to run :D


  3. this!

    What a great interview! I'm speachless :-)

    Did you meet him, or were you talking to him over the phone?


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