Exclusive Fansite Interview: Michael Sheen (Aro)
Michael: Has every one seen the film yet, or has nobody seen the film?
(No, we haven’t!)
Michael: Right, okay. So I can say anything and you won’t know if I’m telling the truth or not!
Michael: I promise I will tell the truth!
Q. What is your perception of Aro as a character? Do you think he shows some blurred line between good and bad given that he puts an ultimatum on Bella becoming a vampire rather than killing her?
Michael: I think that Aro thinks that he’s a really good guy. I love the idea that Aro thinks that he’s just a sentimental old fool and a romantic at heart, and he’s totally unaware of how vicious and violet and psychopathic he is. And I think that’s kind of makes him more creepy in a way, more scary that he’s not even aware of how frightening he is. And I think he thinks he’s just doing the right thing and doing what’s best for the world of the vampires. I don’t think he thinks that he’s being cruel or mean in any way. I think he really thinks of himself as a really old, cuddly grandmother type.
Q.: I actually did get to see the film yesterday.
Michael: Oh, now you’re going to know if I’m fibbing!
Q.: Were you inspired by anyone or anything to kind of channel yourself into the role of Aro?
Michael: Well, the first thing was obviously Stephenie’s book – Stephenie’s description of Aro. There’s one line that really stood out to me where she says that Aro’s voice was like feathers. That sort of set me to thinking and became the key to everything really. That someone who had a voice that sounds like feathers, that’s soft and warm and comforting and very pleasant. Sort of lulling you into a false sense of security kind of thing. And then I found myself, as I was starting to use that kind of a voice, I found myself thinking of things that when I was a kid, films that I’d watched and characters that had stayed with me that were really disturbing, unsettled me as a kid and stayed with me. I thought of things like the child catcher from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Like “Lollipops!” trying to lure the children, and the Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine (breaks into singsong, mellow voice)who talks like that and has a very comforting voice, and yet is really mean and evil. Things like that really that kind of set my imagination going. But it all really came from what Stephenie had written originally.
Q. How did you prepare yourself to look like you were using your ability to read minds? It’s a difficult power to make come across on screen.
Michael: Fortunately I had a lot of time before hand to spend time with Kristen and Ashley and Rob, and we developed a telepathic link that became really useful when we were filming then. Cause then I just could read thoughts so I didn’t have to act. Cause I don’t like acting. I like doing it for real. No… I’m… I’m… er… The important thing was to really – and I always feel like this. As an actor when you’re doing scenes, I have to be totally committed to what I’m doing and really believe what I’m doing. Because if I don’t believe it then the audience aren’t going to believe it. So I had to really believe that I could see and her inside their heads when I was doing this stuff, and really see it. Not just acting seeing things or hearing things. I had to really really see it. So I had to work out exact images that I would see, just let my mind kind of go and try and really let things come into my head. Try to forget about the cameras and forget that I’m acting and all this make up on and wearing these contact lensesand all that. Just really try and see it. Hopefully that come though.
Q.: You have played lots of real life people. Is it more difficult to play a real life person where everybody knows their mannerisms and their voice and their personality, versus an imaginarycharacter that so many fans have embraced and read about and contemplated? Which one is more difficult to take on?
Michael: Well, in some ways playing a character like Aro is more difficult because like you say, there are so many – and I know this because my own daughter as well. My daughter had a very specific ideaof what Aro was like, and it was completely different to what I was doing. When I first asked my daughter about Aro she said, “He’s bald” which freaked me out a little bit. I thought I was going to have to go bald for the film, but fortunately I wasn’t. Some ways it’s harder because at least when you’re playing a real person that people are familiar with, you know, I know what they look like and I know what they sound like and everyone else does. And I’ve got to get as close to that as I possibly can. With a character like Aro – I mean it would be different if it were a character form a book that not that many people knew. But when it’s a character that so many people have such a particular idea about, and these are character that the audience have really taken to their hearts and mean a lot to them. So there’s a big pressure to – I mean you’re never going to get it right really, because everyone will have a slightly different idea of who their Aro is or who their Edward is or their Bella. But I hope that I do justice to the character. And hopefully people will be okay with it even if it is slightly different from the way they see it in their heads. Because the best stories and the best characters are the ones that are in our heads, really. No one can do justice to that. But hopefully it comes a close second best.
Q.: How did your daughter received – if she hasn’t seen the movie yet she has at least seen the clips – how has she received your work? Has she been approving?
Michael: The greatest compliment that I could have had from her – you know her room is covered in Twilight and New Moon pictures and posters and things, and the greatest compliment I could have got was when I went in there one day and there was a little picture of me in the corner. I do slightly think that she did it out of pity just to include me in it as well. But that was a great compliment. She hasn’t seen the film but she’s seen the trailers, and she said that I look really creepy, and she said that it was really creepy when she saw me taking someone’s head off. Apparently her street credit has gone up enormously in school.
Q/: I was wondering about your stunts for the film because the Volturi scene is very action packed.
Michael: Fortunately I didn’t have to get too involved in the fighting because Aro thinks that it’s all a bit messy and dirty and doesn’t like getting involved. It’s all a bit rough and tumbly for him because he’s a very delicate creature. So he sort of keeps away from all of that unless he absolutely has to get involved. So I just kept to the side slightly. But I wanted to get more involved, having done all the Underworld films I get to do a lot of the stunts in that and get really physical in it. I love doing all that. But as Aro – I think Aro feels that he’s a little bit squeamish. Doesn’t like to see the sight of blood, just likes to drink it.
Q.: Did you have any hesitancy of accepting the role in New Moon having already done a supernatural film with the Underworld series?
Michael: No. Well it meant that I got to see how the other half lives, or the undead lives, or whatever. Having been a lycan for many years now and having to watch those dark vampires walking around in their finely tailored suits with their lovely hair styles and their high cheekbones, I finally got to see how green the grass is on the other side. So I had no qualms about that at all, no. I was slightly concerned for anyone who had seen the Underworld films as well whether they would find it difficult to accept me as a vampire now and not as a lycan. But I think I look so different in the two films obviously that’ snot going to be a problem for people.
Q.: Are there any other literary characters that you would like to portray?
Michael: Oh, there’s so many aren’t there. I’m a big fan of Neil Gaimon’s writing, his graphic novels and stuff. The Sandman series of comics is a big favorite of mine. To play Sandman would be amazing, that’s a great character, but I don’t know how you’d ever make that into a film, really. I’m a big fan of Stephen King’s writing as well, so any character in a Stephen King novel would be great. And I was also a fan of – back in the day when I was a kid I was very into Elric who’s in a series of stories by a writer named Michael Moorcock. And Elric is an albino, sort of drug addicted, melancholic prince and I always loved his character. They always tend to be character form sort of science fiction and fantasy. Which is not the main thing I’m known for, I suppose, but I always love those characters. There’s so many of them, but those are the ones I’d be most into doing I suppose.
Q.: If you could play any other role in the Twilight movies without gender or age limitations, who would it be?
Michael: Oh, that’s a very good question. Let me think. Oh, that’s a tough one. Oh gosh. Well I suppose I’d like to stick with the vampires, I suppose. I like Ashley’s character. That’s my daughter’s favorite as well. So maybe I’d want to be Ashley Greene.
Q.: If Aro could have a theme song, what would it be.
Michael: Of it would probably be something lush and romantic. Probably something by Barry Manilow. I Write the Songs. Or Mandy. Maybe it’d be Mandy by Barry Manilow. It would be something that would always reduce Aro to tears cause he’s such an old sentimental fool. Or maybe – Oh I know what it would be. That song by Michael Jackson when he was a kid – Ben, about the rat. “Ben, the two of us…” OH! Or even better Season’s in the Sun. I don’t remember who sang that, but I think, yes, that would be it. “We had joy, we had fun. We had seasons in the sun.” And then it’s all about someone dying. And it’s such a really romantic, lovely, beautiful summer’s day song, but it’s actually about someone that he’s probably killed.
Q.: Charlie Bewley mentioned that the Volturi looked like a bunch of pansies in their costumes until he had the eyes put in for his contacts. He said it was really that moment that he understood the character of the Volturi. What was it for you?
Michael: The moment you put the contacts in does have a big effect. Cause up until that point I had the hair and the white face and the black clothes. And you put the red contact lenses in and it’s just like ugh – it makes you suddenly – it suddenly becomes unsettling and creepy looking. So I like that. So I’d probably go along with it. And also having the big thrones. You know to sit on the thrones in the room there. That helps as well to be able to sit on the big thrones.
Q.: With New Moon it seems that they are trying to branch off a bit with what kind of demographic would be interested in this picture. I was just wondering if you think Aro is the type of character that is esoteric to the Twilight fans or if it’s something that people universally can appreciate?
Michael: In some ways he somewhat fulfills the role of a kind of bad guy in the film, I guess, even though I don’t think he is a bad guy. So I think everyone kind of relates to the idea of this sort of powerful group anyway, the Volturi. I suppose he’s esoteric in so much that – I like the fact that there’s sort of something about him that’s different from everybody else and that’s different from the characters that everyone has come to know in the first film, first book, that there’s something that slightly sets him apart – and the other Volturi – sets them apart. And I wanted him to sort of have a quality of sort of “otherness,” of something that’s slightly unknowable and hidden. So I like that and I think it’s important for the story because you have to have someone who represents that kind of a thing so that the stakes are high. So that it matters – that there’s kind of an element of danger and mystery.
Q.: I was wondering what you favorite most memorable Twilight related moment has been since you started on New Moon?
Michael: When I was filming in – cause I didn’t get to go to Italy unfortunately because all our scenes were interiors, so I didn’t need to be in Italy for that. So I filmed all my stuff in Vancouver. And I would have loved to have been there because Dakota was just telling me this morning about being out in the square in Volterra and like 5,000 people showed up to watch, and that would have been really really exciting. And I’ve been working and I’ve been away a lot, so I haven’t really had a chance to get involved with any of the kind of Twilight madness stuff. But I did have one little moment where – I was buying a pair of jeans in Los Angeles and I went into the little cubicle to try them on. Came out quite tentatively of my little cubicle to have a little look in the mirror, you know worried about that moment. And as I pulled back the curtain there was a woman on the other side holding various items of clothing, shaking, and saying, “You’re Aro, aren’t you?” So I went back in my cubicle and hid. That was a slightly scary moment. So if that’s anything like what’s about to come, I might have to go around with a bag over my head.
Q.: You mentions that you took inspiration from the Blue Meanies for Aro’s voice. What made you think of them for Aro?
Michael: Just because I remember listening to the Blue Meanie in the film when I was a kid. For someone who is supposed to be like the bad guy and the scary person, I always thought of those people would have very powerful, authoritative, scary voices, but that character had a really soft, gentle voice that made it even more creepy and frightening. And thinking about what Stephenie had written about Aro’s voice it just kind of occurred to me. So I went a bit further with it like that to make him have this very soft, gentle voice. Because you know what he’s capable of and what’s really going on underneath, somehow that combination makes it so much more unsettling.
Q.: If you could have any one vampire super power other than Aro’s what would it be?
Michael: We were talking about this earlier on and I’ve now being obsessed with totally useless superpowers. I was thinking a good useless superpower would be to have the ability to blink invisibly. Earlier I said, I was asked what super power I would like to have, and I said I would like to have the ability to always look like I’m standing three centimeters to the right of where I actually am. So now I’d like to start a tread of people thinking up completely useless superpowers.
(Thank you Michael!)
Michael: Thank you. It was really lovely talking to all of you, and for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet, I hope you really enjoy it and I hope I get to see you again some time.