Jim SturgessLucky for Jim Sturgess his acting career really took off, otherwise his claim to fame would be being the restaurant salad boy. He did some acting at a local theater when he was young, but as he grew, skateboarding and music took center stage. When all of his band mates headed off to school, Sturgess stayed back with his fingers crossed his musical ability would be recognized, while making a living working at a restaurant. Sure salad boy was a step up from dishwasher, but it wasn’t until he relocated to Manchester and met a group that shifted his focus back to acting that Sturgess started down the path that would eventually lead him to Across the Universe, Heartless, The Way Back and now, One Day.

Sturgess stepped in front of the lens for director Lone Scherfig to pull Dexter from the pages of David Nicholl’s book and screenplay, and bring him to life. A bit spoiled thanks to his well off and loving parents, played by Patricia Clarkson and Ken Stott, Dexter graduates from Edinburgh University and runs off to put his charm and appreciation for the slick nightlife to use as a professional television presenter and late night playboy. Through Dexter’s ups and downs, one thing remains consistent, Emma’s (Anne Hathaway) presence in his life. Sure it’s an ever-changing relationship courtesy of the duo’s varying proximity and personal issues, but regardless, they’re always there for one another.

In honor of One Day’s August 19th release, Sturgess sat down for a roundtable interview to tell us all about the process of transitioning from Peter Weir’s more rugged The Way Back, to assuming Dexter’s posh lifestyle. Read all about Sturgess’ audition process, experience working with Hathaway, thoughts on his career in general and much more in the interview below.

Jim Sturgess

Do you think men and women can be friends?
Jim Sturgess: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it. All the people keep asking me that, so now I’ve really been thinking about it and of course, yeah, I think men and women can be friends. I think men and women can be really good friends, but I really have to question whether they can be best friends like Dexter and Emma, where that connection is so strong, they’re so compatible and so connected in that way, maybe they can’t. I don’t know.

How did this film come to you?
I was sent the script, as I think a lot of people in England were, and I read it and then I went for an audition with Lone in London. We talked about the project and the character and then I did some reading with a casting agent and then I didn’t hear anything about it for a while and then I got a phone call asking if I would fly to Los Angeles to meet with Anne to do some more reading. I did that then, yeah, then I got the part.

Lone told us it was because you were so charming.
I didn’t know that. [Laughs]

Did she have that discussion with you?
No, she never said that to my face, no.

She said that and also the fact that your character has such a wide range, so congratulations.
Cool, that’s nice. She actually gave me the book. On our first meeting she said, ‘Have you read the book?’ And I hadn’t at that point, so she gave me her copy of the book and I remember thinking, ‘That’s a pretty good sign.’ Maybe she had a stack of books she was giving to every actor that walked through the door. [Laughs] I don’t know, but I felt pretty good about it. But then I didn’t hear anything for ages. And then it was weird, I was kind of like, three quarters of the way through the book, just reading it, enjoying the read, reading it like anybody else and was really immersed in the story, and then suddenly, like three quarters through, I got the call saying I got the part, and it just totally ruined the last quarter of the book for me. [Laughs] I said, ‘Oh god, now I guess I’m going to be this guy.’

Jim Sturgess & Anne Hathaway

Do you know any Dexters in your life, just complete screw-ups at some point in their lives?
Yeah, I know a lot of people like that. [Laughs] The thing about Dexter and the thing about who he is, is certainly living in London, you see a lot of those people around, hanging around the sort of swanky bars of Soho and Notting Hill, so I was very aware of the type of person he was, from that sort of over privileged background, just those guys that swung around the expensive bars and all the posh restaurants. I was kind of excited to play someone that at first, I didn’t particularly like, but then get to look into his life. I found myself defending him a lot. All the girls who were working on the crew who just hated him, you know? [Laughs] I was like, ‘He’s all right! He’s a good person.’

Did the movie make you think of your own view of love, regret and relationships?
Yeah, I think so. I watched the film properly for the first time last night and, yeah, I think it does make you think about other the people you’ve met through your life. I’ve been in a sort of long-term relationship. I sort of stuck with my best friend, so I can’t really relate to it on that level.

What was your relationship with Anne like while working on the film? How did it grow?
We got on really well. It was such a nice plus that we were able to become friends throughout the duration of the film. I had to go to the meeting up in Los Angeles and that was the first time that I met her and she was so nice and so supportive. She really sort of looked after me through that experience because she already had the part. I really felt her energy and her support, so I knew that we kind of got on before we actually started filming. And then we met at the read through and then we started the rehearsal period. It was just really effortless. We didn’t talk about any of that stuff; we just got on, we all played cards, listened to music.

What kind of music?
All kinds of music! When you’re sitting in a makeup chair for as long as we did. We would make each other mix tapes and swap music. She was really into Patty Smith at the time, which I never got my head around.

What’d you play for her?
All kinds of stuff. I was playing her all kinds of British bands and stuff that she’d never heard of. Bands like The Stone Roses and stuff that was coming out of the 80s actually, which was around that period, you know, the 80s and the early 90s. We listened to a lot of that stuff as well.

Older Dexter in One Day

How was that makeup process and seeing yourself with grey hair?
Yeah, that was fun. It was fun looking at how people age from 23 to 43. When I first got the part, I thought, ‘Wow, they’re going to do all this prosthetic makeup,’ but we really looked at it and it was like, you don’t really change that much. Something changes in you, but you still look like the same person, but just slightly …

Slightly white, exactly. Or, you know, life sort of has played a big part in your growing. Then it became a tougher job, really. It was just about finding the subtleties and when to change and when to show that he’d shifted as a character, when to give him a new haircut, when to get the grey coming through. But it was a lot of fun. It was cool going through all the magazines. I couldn’t’ believe how people used to look back in the 90s. I was like, ‘I’m sure I was alive and definitely remember the 90s. I don’t remember people wearing suits that were big,’ you know. [Laughs]

How was it working with Patricia Clarkson?
She’s super cool. I really liked her a lot. It was so great to see her again last night. We had a really good time and really sort of had that relationship of Dexter and his mother, like Dexter really looked up to his mom and thought she was glamorous and cool and feisty, and I thought all those things about Patricia. She’s a really cool lady. We got to know each other sitting on the train. We got the Eurostar from London to Paris and that was the first time we met, so she just grabbed me and said, ‘Let’s sit together on the train so we can get to know each other,’ and I was terrified. [Laughs] And then it was just the coolest two hours. She was just so funny and we were just chatting.

Jim Sturgess & Patricia Clarkson

When you watched One Day for the first time last night, were there any particular scenes that got to you?
It’s hard when you watch a film. It’s more of a collection of memories when you watch a film for the first time; you’re just remembering all the experiences you had. But I really enjoyed watching other people’s scenes that I wasn’t in. You realize that there’s a lot of stuff that me and Anne did separately, with her whole life going on and all the stuff that I thought was amazing with her and Rafe [Spall], the guy who plays Ian, which I never was a part of, so it was great to see more of the film and see what Emma’s life was doing while I was off being Dexter, taking drugs and sleeping with women. [Laughs]

Of all the types of films you’ve done – musicals like Across the Universe, youthful pieces like 21, horror films like Heartless – is there one you prefer or one that comes more naturally to you?
I don’t know. I feel like I’ve tried my hardest with the opportunities or whatever’s offered to try and do something different every time. Yeah, after doing a musical, I did a period film and then I did a slick Hollywood film and then I did a slightly darker thriller, I did a film called Fifty Dead Men Walking, then I did a horror film in Heartless, then I did a war epic, the film I did called The Way Back with Peter Weir, then I did a crazy animation film where I played an Australian Owl, so that was kind of cool, [laughs] in The Legend of the Guardians. Then I did a fantasy film called Upside Down, which still hasn’t come out yet and then a romance. It sort of comes of like, I don’t think I want to do a romance film, but then I read this script and it was just so good and so ungeneric. It had something really special and different and classic about it.

Is there anything you haven’t done at this point that you’d like to try?
I don’t know. I keep just trying to find things that I think are good. But, yeah, I’ve tried to just do something a little different each time. It’s fun to do that. And I’d just come off doing The Way Back and that was such a crazy, outdoor epic experience of trekking across the wilderness and playing this starving bearded mountain man who’s living out in the wilderness and then going and playing this spoiled over privileged brat like Dexter. I remember thinking I wonder what would happen if those two characters met, what they would think of each other.

The Way Back

Can you tell us about Upside Down and your character?
It’s a fantasy love story, but in a very different way. My character, he’s a guy called Adam. It’s about these two worlds, one’s called Down Below and one’s called Up Top, and it’s a sort of alternate universe and my character, he’s from the Down Below world, which is a poverty stricken, almost communist ruled landscape, and he’s basically fallen in love with this girl from Up Top and the two worlds don’t mix.

Romeo and Juliet.
That’s right. Yeah. But family’s not getting in the way in this film; it’s gravity which is kind of an interesting concept. [Laughs]

With all the films that you’ve made in such a short period of time, do you find that directors are trusting you more or are you still being directed closely?
I don’t know. It changes with every director and that’s been amazing, just working with lots of different directors; they have their artistic world and that’s so set in stone for them and you just merely visit each person. To live in Julie Taymor’s mind for that period of time was a whole different experience. So you really just learn and learn and learn; it’s a nonstop process because everybody’s completely different. Then to go and do a film with Peter Weir, who’s so thorough with research and everything’s about the details, character back-stories. We really went out there and lived out in the wilderness. That was a whole [new] deal again. I guess your confidence does grow the more people you work with. Then I had an amazing opportunity to work with a young filmmaker who we became very close friends, a young guy called Mat Whitecross. I really enjoyed the experience of working with someone my own age, who’s so talented. I think before, every director’s just this kind of god to me or you really look up to them and it was a really fulfilling experience to work head-to-head with this great filmmaker.

By Perri Nemiroff

By Perri Nemiroff

Film producer and director best known for her work in movies such as FaceTime, Trevor, and The Professor. She has worked as an online movie blogger and reporter for sites such as CinemaBlend.com, ComingSoon.net, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.

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