Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'Bonnie and Clyde' on History, Lifetime

“Clyde Barrow was such a famous historical person but I found myself not knowing who he really was a person,” actor Emile Hirsch said about his latest role during a teleconference for the miniseries “Bonnie and Clyde.”

“The more I learned, the more fascinated I was,” he told Asian reporters.

Hirsch, 28, started his acting career 15 years ago. His film credits include “Lords of Dogtown,” “Into the Wild,” and “Speed Racer.” He had smaller parts in subsequent projects “Milk” and “Savages.”

To portray the notorious American outlaw, Hirsch said his research included reading books, viewing documentaries and using his imagination. He skipped the 1967 movie, which starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

“I purposely avoided the Beatty version because I think he’s a very good actor,” Hirsch said. “To watch his performance might influence mine or set me on a different direction that, maybe, I wouldn’t have gone to on my own.”

His iteration of Clyde, he added, is “more serious and darker.” Holliday Grainger plays Clyde’s lover and partner, Bonnie Parker. The cast also includes award-winning actors Holly Hunter and William Hurt. Excerpts from the interview:

How did you strike a balance between accuracy and interpretation? 
I wanted to play it as accurately as I could. I wanted to kind of try to give them a version of who Clyde was but not necessarily… evil, from what I learned. I wanted to not just capture, but create a character, use this horrible past to create something that I thought would be compelling to watch. 

Was “glamorization” of the historical killers discussed?
As far as glamorizing crime, I don’t know. I mean, there’s no doubt that in the end, they pay for their crimes. Going out the way they did, I feel that by the end of it, all the glamor’s kinda gone… Our version has Clyde wishing he could take it all back. In that way, there’s a [focus on] morality happening instead of just glamorization.

How would you describe your career path, transitioning from movies to this project?
I feel really lucky, with all the opportunities that I’ve been given. I feel excited to do something different, like this miniseries on television. Technology is evolving so rapidly, [allowing us to] do things that haven’t been done before—three networks in the US will be simultaneously airing this.

The way that the film market is changing, television is starting to get better and better. In a lot of the circles I’ve been in… everyone’s talking about the TV shows they love [and are] religiously following! It was a little intimidating at first, because I’ve never done it, but it was also exciting to branch out. It was a chance to explore a character in a bigger way. It’s longer than a feature film so I took my time and let the performance be more of like a slow burn, as opposed to this big explosion!

(“Bonnie and Clyde” will air Monday and Tuesday, 9 p.m. on History and Lifetime.)

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