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Interview with Stuart Townsend

From "Head in the Clouds"

By

Charlize Theron Stuart Townsend

Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend in "Head in the Clouds"

© Sony Pictures Classics
What attracted you to this character?
What I love about him is that he falls for this girl. He's from another world, he's shy, working class, underdog, not very worldly, and falls for this woman who's privileged, aristocratic and bohemian. I don't think he cares about any of that stuff. He falls in love with her, and I love that because you can't tell your heart what to do.

They live in Paris in this idyllic life with Penelope [Cruz] and it's very bohemian. It's a piece of paradise and for a lot of people that would be it. And it's not enough for him because he's realized there's other stuff going on. He's in a bubble, but there's more.

What the biggest difference between you and this character?
It's a different time. He went to war, and I wouldn't go to war. No way. Whereas back then, I don't know, maybe I would have. The choices would have been so different, especially if I wanted to be an actor.

I definitely have the capacity to fall in love like he does, but it's different. Probably, I would have fought for her a little more, I think. He's a little cooler than I am. When they have their discussions, he doesn't push things, he just lets things happen. I'd probably push things and rock the boat. He's a quieter character, more introverted. There's moments and scenes they have where the argument was done, it was over, and he kind of let that happen. I probably wouldn't. I would have fought it.

You've played a few bisexual characters in the past, do you think it's easier to explore that in film?
Nowadays, yeah, people are much more comfortable, and that's what's happening with you people today. Yeah, it's mad. "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is a mainstream hit. Homosexuality is accepted. There's nothing to do anymore. I mean S&M stuff 15 to 20 years ago was like (whistles) and now it's mainstream. Everything alternative and cult ends up mainstream. Try to be original now, forget it. As soon as you are original, something comes down and throws you into mainstream. So, I think a lot of things are accepted.

There are some good things about that, especially for kids nowadays. It's tough for them growing up and trying to be different! I think it's great. It shows that we're evolving, that we can get beyond the whole sexual thing. It's interesting that gay marriage is so controversial and religion still has such a stranglehold on our brains. Especially the Irish Catholic guilt. You must be born with it or something, but it still exists. It will gradually fade out. It's a good time.

There is innovation. It's like music, there are only so many musical notes, there are only so many computations of musical forms that exist. If you put that music into a computer, they'll probably give you some number but out of that number we have jazz, blues, so many different genres, and so many different innovators and genre. Most music these days, to me, is just crap, but occasionally there's stuff in there that's incredible. There are some innovations and my analogy is the same for film, it's such a young art form, a young language, and two or three times a year, I see a film and go, "Wow, that's different." And there are thousands of films being made now, but there's still room for more original film and more original music.

For me, if everyone was making great movies, that would be one thing. But the opportunity to do a good film is so small nowadays. It's like winning the lottery to be in a good film. So, when something when "League of Extraordinary Gentleman" comes up I do it because I need some money at the time and I want to work. I don't do it because I'm proud of it, and it didn't do anything for my soul. I need some cash and it's something to do.

This is the first film I've done in three years that I'm proud of that I've done. I like it and I don't care what anyone else thinks. It's a good story, and I know it will affect some people. Some people won't like it. And that might [not] happen for another three years, you never know. I might do another piece of s***, you never know.

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