Tall for an actor at 6’2”, Goode possesses the charm of Rupert Everett and the good looks of his fellow countryman, Hugh Grant. After celebrating a night out of hanging out with Mandy's mother, Goode came in to be interviewed with beer in hand, confessing he'd had a late night and needed a bit of the hair of the dog. Seeming pretty relaxed for a newcomer to films and press junkets, Goode spoke about kissing Mandy Moore and being compared to other British actors.
MATTHEW GOODE ('Ben'):
How did you get cast in “Chasing Liberty?”
My agent said, “You should go and meet Priscilla John, U.K. Casting, because you haven’t met her yet.” So I went and met Priscilla and a couple of bottles of wine later, we were getting along famously. She said, “Why don’t you come in tomorrow and read for this part? Andy Cadiff is the director and he’s really lovely.” I said, “Great. Give me the script for a quick read.” I did that and the next thing I know, I’m being flown across to this extraordinary town [Los Angeles] and they ended up giving me a job.
Did you do a screen test with Mandy Moore? Did she have a hand in casting you?
I wasn’t privy to all the conversations but I think she had a bit of casting approval. I was the only guy over 5’8” and I was cheap. I suspect that’s the other reason I got it.
Did you know who Mandy Moore was when they told you she was in the movie?
I believe I’d seen her once on “CD-U.K.,” which is a little music channel. But I didn’t have a clue who she was and I think that probably helped with when I met her. I was like, “Hey, you’re tall, aren’t you?” She’s not really that well known in England, but over here she’s pretty big.
How did you two meet the first time?
We were at the offices of Alcon. It was quite strange because all the actors who were up for the part were sitting in a room eating fruit, looking at each other. Then one by one, we all went in and did our stuff and met her. She was really cool, very, very laid back and I had to kiss her within the audition. The first kiss was a bit strange. I sort of leaned in and she sort of turned her head so I ended up kissing her cheek. I thought, “That’s it. I’ve blown it.” I must be more forceful next time.
Is that how you got the part, the kiss?
I like to think so.
Are you hoping that a popular role like this will bring you into Hollywood mainstream movies?
I don’t know. It’s in the choices at the end of the day, isn’t it? This gives you an opportunity to be out there and be seen, which is fantastic. It’s sifting through a lot of scripts.
Did they give you a lot of leeway to improvise in this film or was it all in the script?
The script was pretty good. Sometimes you see a lot of American writers writing English characters and you’re kind of like, “He’s very American.” So you change words here and there and take it by the director first. Andy is a legend. He makes actors feel very comfortable. “Why don’t we just do it your way then?” That was good.
A one point your character rides around on a small bike and you looked a bit shaky. Had you ridden one like it before?
With my ears up around my knees? It was a bit funky. I was quite lucky. Not at one point in the 50 takes did I actually [have an accident] and fall over, but I thought I was going to. Also being on the scooter was freaky at times. I’ve ridden motorbikes before but scooters are a bit dangerous. The wheel base is very small and you’ve got a bit of weight on when cornering, especially when you’ve got a multi-million [dollar] star riding on the back.
You have a background in theater. Were you always interested in getting into feature films?
Yes. I was looking to go into [them], but it’s a difficult thing to sort of wheedle your way into. You’re always looking for a little break here and there and, luckily, I got it. But I want to get back to the stage. That’s the good stuff. Anything that scares the shit out of you is quite a good thing to do. That’s where you learn your trade. It’s not safe. You don’t get 250 takes. It could be different every night.
Do you look at English actors such as Colin Firth or Hugh Grant as having a career path you’d like to follow?
People make comparisons to Hugh Grant and ask if I mind being put in that mold. I have no beef whatsoever because I think he’s very good. Generally his timing is fantastic. I’d like to follow their careers but that would be lucky. There are a lot of good Australian and English actors coming over here.