Opening in theaters on December 23 is the new drama ‘Living,’ directed by Oliver Hermanus (‘Beauty’) and adapted from the 1952 Japanese film ‘Ikiru’ directed by Akira Kurosawa.
Set in 1950s London, ‘Living’ stars Bill Nighy (‘Love Actually’) as Mr. Williams, an ordinary civil servant who after receiving a grim diagnosis decides to live out his last days with the help of a former co-worker named Margaret. . Harris (Aimee Lou Wood).
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood about their work on ‘Living’, their approach to their roles, and the sweet connection between their characters.
You can read our full interview below or click the video player above to watch our interviews with Nighy, Wood and director Oliver Hermanus.
Moviefone: First of all, Bill, can you talk about your approach to playing Mr. Williams, and what are the aspects of the character that you want to explore with this film?
Bill Nighty: I was so excited to explore a character like that from my childhood because I was there. I was a little boy during my fifties. The atmosphere in those days and the way people behaved, I grew up like that. The post-war era and the kind of reticence that is demanded of people, the reluctance to say anything big and not bother one another with your deepest concerns.
It’s a kind of religion, and probably very unhealthy. I understand when it comes to repression and oppression, but it’s also kind of heroic. I find that, as acting, it’s fun to try and express enough with not too much. I’m interested in that. It’s usually called English, but I’m sure there are characters like Mr. Williams in every culture. But we are blamed for it.
I just think I was totally blown away by the formality, even under so much pressure, and also the delay because he spent his life working in an institution designed to facilitate delays. I personally procrastinate at the Olympic level. There’s nothing I can’t put off, and I can put it off as long as you want. When I die, there will be a long list of things I never finished. I’m interested in how those personal tendencies are expressed in society because all of us, my hope is not just me, I think everyone struggles with those tendencies.
MF: Finally, Aimee, can you talk about Margaret’s reaction when she saw her former boss outside the office and in the real world, and the friendship they forged together that really inspired her to live her life to the fullest?
Aimee Lou Wood: Well, you know when you’re young and you see your teacher come out, and you say, “What?” Because there are certain people who, in your head, only exist within that particular space. I think Margaret has it with Mr. Williams because he’s so secretive at the beginning of the movie. So, they’ve been in each other’s presence, I think, 16 months, but they haven’t hooked up yet.
I think when he saw him outside it was surprising that he was even outside those walls. But the fact that he’s wearing this new hat, there’s something different about him. That’s how I know who Margaret is. As soon as (screenwriter) Kazuo Ishiguro wrote, “Oh, and your new hat,” I was like, “Oh, okay. I get who he is.” That he was paying attention to all of these things, and he could see that there was something different about him, just by the fact that he had this new hat.
Suddenly he could see her in this whole new light. It’s also because he sees life in a whole new way. He was trying to see something and notice it again, after years of being on autopilot. I think she was quite shocked by how she felt on seeing him when they had been sitting this close together for 16 months and she had never felt it until that day. I think it’s just a really surprising and amazing relationship that they have.
It’s almost sad because you think they could have done it 16 months ago. They could have had it from the moment they met if they only had a different perspective. It is Mr. Williams’ new will to live that brings them together.
“It’s never too late to start over.”
LIFE is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadowy existence, who at the eleventh hour desperately tries to f… Read the Plot