Interview: Christopher Egan from “Letters to Juliet”
The Massie Twins recently had a chance to sit down with Australian-born Christopher Egan, star of the new romantic comedy “Letters to Juliet,” directed by Gary Winick and also starring Amanda Seyfried. Chris plays Charlie, the stubborn, hot-headed main love interest.
The Massie Twins: You came to Arizona on the one day that it’s not a million degrees!
Christopher Egan: I landed in the airport last night and stepping out, it was really hot. But it was really chilly when we left L.A.
MT: How do you go about choosing scripts and projects to work on?
CE: I’m not really in the position where I can just choose what I want to do, but after I worked on Kings, things started to take a turn for me. And it was a really chaotic 7 months in New York. I think I almost died several times on location due to the crazy, crazy schedule. It was an amazing job but really tense, working with different directors and working very fast. After that I just wanted to work on something that was a bit more chilled out. So Letters to Juliet was perfect and I fell in love with Charlie. I fell in love with the character of Charlie (laughs). It sounds like there’s this guy named Charlie that I fell in love with (laughs). They just gave me the script and said if I liked it to put myself on tape because everyone was in London. Then I went over there to screen test with Amanda. Then I came back to L.A. and literally the moment I landed I got a call saying they wanted me to go back. I thought they wanted me to go back and test again, but then they told me I got it.
MT: How do you prepare yourself differently for this role versus science-fiction or horror, etc.?
CE: For this character it was an accumulation of a lot of British characters. I know you get the typical Hugh Grant but I just wanted to add a bit of my own thing. I based it on people I know, from friends of mine, from actors I’ve watched, and then tried to make it my own.
MT: What aspects of this character are you most like in real life?
CE: All of them (laughs)! I don’t believe in true love, I’m a realist … No, I don’t know. I use my hands a lot. Gary told me that sometimes I just don’t stop moving, so I should use that with Charlie.
MT: How difficult was it to do the British accent?
CE: It kind of felt natural. In rehearsal I’d go really over-the-top with it and then pull it back a little bit. We wanted to keep it at a constant and I worked with a dialect coach continuously. I find the American accent much tougher than British. British felt closer to Australian, whereas for American, your whole jaw has to be dislocated (laughs).
MT: How do you feel about the current romantic comedies that are out there and how do you think this will compare?
CE: I think it’s completely different. It feels very European, it’s set in Italy, it’s got Vanessa Redgrave, it feels like real characters. It’s not your slapstick There’s Something About Mary, with your really weird characters that just aren’t real.
MT: I will say that it is very well timed, especially with its PG rating. Most of the comedies out now are trying to go with a tougher look and feel, with an action star male lead and more vulgar humor.
CE: Yeah, everybody can go see it. You can take the whole family. I feel like it’s not trying to be anything that it’s not. We do make fun of things, there are a few moments of Romeo and Juliet in there, but wouldn’t it be nice if all the things in the film existed out there.
MT: Was this filmed entirely on location? Have you been to Italy before?
CE: Yes it was. And I’ve done two jobs in Italy – it’s kind of strange since three out of my maybe 10 jobs have been in Italy. I love it. The crews and everything is a whole different environment. Nobody takes anything too seriously, but they’re so passionate about their jobs. And the food! We went to wine country and amazing vineyards and got so much wine. It was basically one big drunk haze (laughs).
MT: Do you watch a lot of romantic comedies? Did director Gary Winick make you watch anything in preparation for the role?
CE: I watched a lot of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth and I actually watched some classic period pieces like Atonement.
MT: Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero are both acting legends. Were you familiar with their films before working with them?
CE: I’ve seen a myriad of Vanessa’s stuff and Franco’s such a legend. He was there the entire time and it was great. I remember when I wanted to get a photo with him, just a snapshot, and he’s rearranging his chair, furniture and sets things up, he was directing the person taking it and it took like 15 minutes to get a picture with him (laughs)! But he’s amazing. He would read poems and stories during breaks. He’s really fascinating.
MT: Do you use the internet for feedback on your films?
CE: I get into that now and then, but I feel like it can be bad too. I’ve looked at reviews before and been heartbroken, so I tend to not even want to read good stuff or bad stuff. I think you tend to focus less on the outcome of the movie than the experience.
MT: Have you seen the film with an audience?
CE: We did an L.A. press screening and it was nice to see my moments that did work that people laughed at that I wasn’t sure would work. It was a packed house and when people all laugh at the same time and when audiences get it, it’s really great. We got a standing ovation at ShoWest.
MT: When the film opens theatrically, will you sneak into a showing incognito?
CE: I think so, yeah. Maybe dressed as Amanda (laughs). Although I did that with Eragon and there were people behind be talking really loudly and it was frustrating.
MT: So what’s cooler: dragons (Eragon), zombies (Resident Evil: Extinction) or Shakespeare (Letters to Juliet)?
CE: They’re all cool in their own way. I can’t just pick one. What do you guys think?
MT: Well, zombies are kind of the “in” thing right now, especially with another Resident Evil film coming out, but we would feel uncultured if we didn’t say Shakespeare (laughs).
CE: And you two can’t disagree with one another.
MT: That’s right. We have identical opinions on everything (laughs). So what’s next for you? Are there other genres you’ll be tackling?
CE: There’s three things right now, but the one I really like is this psychological thriller that’s really dark and weird and completely different from Charlie. I want to do something completely opposite.
MT: Well with you track record, every movie is a completely different genre. So maybe the next film will be a musical.
CE: You can’t plan that. It’s incredibly rare. There’s no typecast. It’s all happened by providence.
MT: So tell us something about Amanda Seyfried that nobody knows.
CE: She loves her dog.
MT: There’s got to be something juicier than that! (laughs)
CE: (laughs) I’ll say stuff for money (laughs). Amanda’s amazing. There’s really nothing crazy. She has a medical pass to take her dog anywhere. In New York she brought it into my hotel room, this tiny little Australian Shepherd, and basically the dog runs in and craps all over the floor, jumps on my bed and poos there, and it’s rolling in it and it’s dribbly, and she’s freaking out. We did get the hotel to clean it up.