Jeff Bridges: “Lebowski gave me my Beatles moment, man! It’s given me a lot of gifts.”

jeff

Whether sipping White Russians in The Big Lebowski or conjuring musical alchemy in Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges has spent six decades populating cinema with some of its most engaging characters. Born and raised in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills, Total Film discovers he’s still Tinsletown’s coolest Dude…

Words Josh Winning

“You want a drink, man?” asks Jeff Bridges, ambling over to a counter in a high-end Austin hotel room. “I’ll take a water just to have by me.” At 66 years old, the Oscar-winner’s reputation came into the room ahead of him. He’s “the nicest guy in Hollywood”. He’s part cowboy, part hippie, all Buddhist. Mostly he’s “The Dude”, the character he played in The Big Lebowski who became a pin-up for pre- and post-millennials just wanting to “hang loose, man”.

Meeting him in Austin’s trendy Rainey Street district, Total Film finds he’s all and none of these things. At the start of our 40-minute chat, he shakes our hand – not too soft, not too firm – and relaxes into a sofa, his back to the Colorado River (“I’ll let you take the view, man”), nonchalant but with eyes perpetually crinkled with curiosity. Having grown up in Hollywood, he carries an undeniable aura of glamour. His attire – knitted navy cardigan over a white shirt, jeans, comfy grey loafers – is up-market Dude, and he’s uncharacteristically clean-shaven, his famous unruly mane tamed into ear-grazing silver waves for Granite Mountain, the action film he’s currently shooting in New Mexico with director Joseph Kosinski (they met on Tron: Legacy).

“I kind of consider myself a product of nepotism as far as my career goes,” he shrugs. “My dad really encouraged my brother and I to get into acting, he loved it so much. So it’s hard for me to really think of life any other way. My life seems very normal to me, but I guess I do have kind of an inside view having grown up with all that stuff.”

Given his upbringing, it’s fitting that the film Bridges is promoting today – dusty drama Hell Or High Water, from Starred Up director David Mackenzie – hinges on family. As edge-of-retirement Texas Ranger Marcus, Bridges pursues two bank-robbing brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) across state, following a trail of dollar bills and bodies. Combustive, funny, sad, it’s about desperate people and family and life’s changing seasons, themes that have followed Bridges through a career that’s seen him lend heart to quirky dramas (Crazy Heart, The Fisher King), heft to action flicks (Tron, King Kong) and roguish charm whether playing a goodie (Starman, Thunderbolt And Lightfoot) or a baddie (The Vanishing, Iron Man).

Family, though, is the cornerstone of Bridges’ career. Married 39 years (to Susan Geston, whom he met while filming Rancho Deluxe in 1975), he worked with his veteran father Lloyd and brother Beau numerous times (The Fantastic Baker Boys, Hidden In America). When he won the Oscar for Crazy Heart in 2010, having been nominated five times over a 40-year period, he pointed his trophy to the ceiling and called, “Mom and Dad! Look!”

It’s this wholesome image that has earned him a place as one of America’s national treasures, and despite having over 80 credits to his name, he’s not looking to slow down any time soon – though he admits retirement is something he’s considered since his twenties. “I think a lot of people can relate to that idea,” he muses. “Having to leave behind the thing they’ve done all their lives…”

What did you find interesting about Marcus?

Texas Rangers are kind of the cream of the crop as far as law enforcement goes, but Marcus has reached the end of the line. As the movie begins, he’s just got a letter from the higher ups telling him it’s time to shut it down and retire. He’s spent his whole life doing this – getting the bad guys and solving crimes – and now it’s come down to this: one last hunt.

He’s a guy on the knife edge of retirement. Could you relate to that?

Yeah, I do think about that. Dependent on the day, my mind changes all the time… Making movies is funny, you use what I call a pretend muscle, you know, pretending to be somebody else, and that’s fun to do for a while, but then it gets fatigued, that muscle, and you think, I’ll kind of just lay it down. And other times, I think, “Gee what a wonderful profession, I can act as an old man on my death bed!” My dad, man [laughs]. I remember visiting him on the set of one of the Hot Shots on his 85th birthday and he’s swinging on a chandelier! He loved it and he turned all his kids onto making movies.

Hollywood is very much an industry, but you came into it through family. That must feel different…

Yeah, but I don’t know how unique it is. I would imagine all kinds of families and kids put on Christmas plays and stuff. We did a lot of that. A couple of my high points in movies I’ve made have been working with my father. My brother on The Fabulous Baker Boys, and I got to work with my dad on Tucker and a movie called Blown Away…

Did working with Beau on Fabulous Baker Boys make that a particularly special experience?

Oh yeah, oh that was like a dream come true. We’d be pinching ourselves. We had lunch together every day and pinched ourselves and said, “Can you believe we get to do this? Isn’t this great, man?”

Is your main memory of the film the fight scene that landed Beau in hospital?

Well now that you’ve mentioned that one, I remember that one, but there’s so many great memories from that movie. Working with Steve Kloves, that was his first movie, I think he wrote it when he was like 24 or something, directed it when he was 26 or 27. He went on to write all the Harry Potter screenplays. He was wonderful.

Back in the ’70s, despite films like Last Picture Show and Thunderbolt And Lightfoot, you didn’t become a movie star in the vein of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Do you feel you were doing something different to them?

I don’t know, it’s kind of a mystery, I don’t know what that’s all about. I had as much fame as I wanted; I never craved any more than what I was getting. I thought I’d been really lucky to work with all those wonderful directors and actors I’ve got to work with. I look back on the movies I’ve made and I say, “Wow, those are pretty good!”

The Last Picture Show was your first big break, but you’ve talked about feeling like an imposter. Did the Oscar nomination justify your career to you?

No, not really. It’s funny, like most kids, you don’t want to do what your parents want you to do. You wanna do your own thing, and you don’t want to get a job just because of who your father is, so I had a lot of resistance to that thing. I was interested in music. My dad would say, “Oh no Jeff, don’t be ridiculous, acting is so great, one day you’ll get to /play/ a musician!”

And he was right, you played a musician in Crazy Heart and won the Oscar…

That’s right! Absolutely. I’m glad I listened to the old man!

So what convinced you to pursue acting instead of music?

I made a movie called The Last American Hero about Junior Johnson, the stock car racer, and like after ever movie, I was saying, “I’m gonna retire, I want to do something different.” I got a call from my agent who says, “I’ve got great news for you, John Frankenheimer wants you to play a part in The Iceman Cometh,” this would be with Frederick March and Lee Marvin and Robert Ryan! I thought, “Huh, well, I am bushed but… maybe I’ll use this as a little experiment and see if I’m built for this.” I had most of my scenes with Robert Ryan who’s a wonderful actor. After that experience I said, “Oh yeah, this is something I can do.”

Were you pleased with how the film turned out?

When I look back on it I didn’t particularly like my performance or anything like that, but the life experience was really very rich. I really enjoyed it. It’s a great profession. I just love it so much, but I love it and I hate it, too. It’s the gamut, it takes me through all the emotions. There are so many things that… Fear! You know. You deal with fear all the time. That’s what these old guys, you see Frederick March concerned with getting it right. [screws up face] “Uuuuuughh!’” Wanting to do the material justice, all this weird psychic pain, it’s hard to describe. I love to talk about it with other actors; they get it! You get pissed man, when you’re not quite… it’s not coming through right.

Is there a lot of pressure to deliver as an actor?

It’s a weird thing. One of the gifts of acting is that you’re not doing it alone; you’re doing it with all these different people, so every once in a while there’s this transcendence that happens. You have high expectations and the thing that you imagined as good, it is better because of all these other talents putting their fairy dust on it.

So with Crazy Heart, was it particularly rewarding winning the Oscar for two things you love: acting and music?

Yeah, and talking about fear, that’s a great example of exactly what I’m talking about. Here you get, what a blessing, getting to play a musician, and not only that, but have my dear friend T Bone Burnett do all the music. And the downside of that is, “Yeah, but what happens if I can’t do it? Maybe in the dream it’s safe because it’s just in the dream realm, but once you start to make it real, am I gonna drop the ball or be able to do it?”

You definitely caught the ball with The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Is he a character you relate to?

Ah, maybe so. That’s the starting place for all the characters I play, is myself. I guess the first thing is the script and then you get the character, but I’m always thinking about the parallels between myself and the character and what I can use and what I want to kick to the kerb, what aspects I want to magnetise and magnify a little bit. So that’s the approach I take for most of the characters I play.

How did the part of The Dude come along?

I remember a couple of years before we made The Big Lebowski, the Coens said, “We’re writing something for you,” and I said, “Oh great, great!” Then I got it and I said, “What the hell is this?! This is like nothing I’ve ever done before! How did they know that side of me? Did they crash some high school party I was in and base [it on that]?” But there are quite a few aspects of The Dude that I share. I remember Mary Zophres was the costumer; she came over to my house and I said, “Well, let’s go up to my closet, there might be some stuff in there.” She’s picking out the jelly shoes, those are mine! Different T-shirts… So I guess I got a lot of Dude in me, what the hey.

Then you wrote the book about The Dude’s philosophy with Bernie Glassman…

Oh yeah, now that… When the film originally came out, it was a bigger hit in Europe and then splashed back on our shores and now there are all these festivals. My buddy who’s a zen master, Bernie Glassman, he said to me, “You don’t realise that The Dude in many Buddhist circles is considered a zen master.” I said, “What the fuck are you talking about, man?” He says, “In the movie there are all these koans.” You know what a koan is? They’re like questions, the famous one is, “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” that kind of thing. So he says, “’The Dude abides’ is a very Buddhist concept!’ And ‘Shut the fuck up Donny’, that’s a kind of a koan.” Then he says, “Look at the directors! The Koan brothers!” [laughs] So anyway, he said, “Let’s write a book,” so I said, “OK,” and we wrote this book called The Dude And The Zen Master. It was a lot of fun!

Did The Dude teach you anything?

Heck! More after the movie! It’s sure given me a lot of stuff, that movie. It’s given me a lot of gifts. My band is named The Abiders! You know? We played at LebowskiFest. Not in costume, but to a sea of Dudes and bowling pins. Lebowski gave me my Beatles moment, man! “NOW, The Dude!” [laughs and makes a crowd sound] It was pretty great.

You were at Marvel in 2008 with Iron Man, which kickstarted the MCU. Did you get a special feeling on that?

First of all I think that movie came out so great; it’s my favourite superhero movie, I guess I’m partial! But the making of that movie was so fascinating. Jon Favreau, the director, he ran such a great ship. He’s such a talented guy and of course [Robert] Downey [Jr.], those two guys, they made it just a wonderful, unique kind of experience.

Is it true the script got thrown out just before shooting began?

We had a couple of weeks rehearsal and we didn’t like the script too much. We rehearsed for two weeks and we rewrote. Then about a day or so before we were gonna start shooting, the Marvel guy said, “Oh no, none of this is working,” and threw it all out. I started to really get upset because the way I work, my method is, you learn the lines. The play is the thing! So you’re kind of lost at sea, sort of.

How did you work around that?

We would literally show up… Often, all the crew would be in the sound stage waiting for us to write the scene! We’d be in my trailer there with Jon Favreau, Downey, the suits, Marvel guys, all the suits in there trying to figure out the scene… Jon calling writer friends, saying, “What do you think about this?” I mean, we would swap roles; Downey would play my side and I’d play his, trying to come up with stuff. We’d be in there a couple of hours and finally come out and do the thing!

Was it tough working that way?

I was so frustrated until I finally made a little shift in my mind that made all the difference. Which was, “Jeff, just relax, you’re making a $200m student film. Have fun! Go back to when you were making movies with your family, just play!” I was like, “Oh, of course.” And then I just kind of let it go and like I said, Jon Favreau was so suited to do this thing because he was able to not blow it, with all these suits wanting different things. He was so relaxed and that was kind of a contagious feeling around the thing. Of course you had Downey who was a great improviser and so perfect for that part. It worked out well.

Talking of comic-book movies, is it true you came close to playing Batman for Tim Burton?

I don’t think so! I don’t know anything about that. I heard that with Raiders Of The Lost Ark, too. It’s not true!

Iron Man must’ve provided an interesting gauge for how technology has changed, having been in Tron in 1982. Were they two totally different experiences?

Totally different, totally different. The original Tron was shot in black and white, 70mm, hand-tinted by these ladies in Korea. And then the sequel, Tron: Legacy, I got literally scanned into a computer, it felt like something right out of the original film, when the computer scans me. Now I’m in there and they can do whatever they want with me. I was a little upset with the rendition of [my younger version], I looked a bit like [comedian] Bill Maher. Whenever my character came on, I said, “Hmm, Bill Maher, what’s he doing in the show?” They’ll probably get that down better and that’ll be the end of the acting profession. They’ll be able to say, “We’ll put a little Bridges, a little De Niro, get some Josh Brolin in there,” stir it up and come up with a completely different person.

With the sci-fi genre you’ve had as many hits as misses. Do you take it personally when a movie doesn’t do well?

[long pause] I don’t know if I should answer that question. It’s not so much what the public thinks as, I mentioned every once in a while you do a movie that’ll transcend all your highest expectations, but then also the reverse will happen, where you do a movie and say, “Wow, we had a great time, it’ll be good!” and then it’s much lower. They chose all the worst takes, the suits got in there and said, “Oh no,” and the director, they kick him to the kerb.

That happened with RIPD, didn’t it?

We had a great time doing that movie. The director was terrific, then they kicked him to the kerb and they cut it and just screwed up the whole thing! So that’s disappointing. Usually when the movies come out and how they do, it’s almost like a horse race, “The horses are at the gate!” There’s this kind of excitement and you’re rooting for your horse, but most often, as is the case now, I’m working on another movie, so most of my attention is on that.

Is it weird to see franchises like King Kong and Tron coming back decades after you worked on them?

That’s kinda cool in a way. Doing Last Picture Show and then 20 years later we got the same group together with Peter Bogdanovich and the story continues. Larry McMurtry, who’s one of our great writers, he’s got three more books in that series, those characters, so I’m hoping to do those again. There’s something great about being able to extend it. And it also kind of plays into the whole Hollywood thing now of the sure bet, what worked, let’s do it again. There’s two sides to that coin.

Has Hollywood changed a lot since you stepped into the industry?

Quite a bit, yeah. I remember working on Last Picture Show, it was a great outfit that financed our movie called BBS. They had that independent spirit and support of the directors giving their vision, you know… Unique vision was really more prevalent back in those days. Nowadays you got these $200m movies, but you also have almost like the reaction to that, you got a movie like Tangerine, have you seen that? Wasn’t that great? On the iPhone? That’s really cool, man! Or you know Starred Up… I remember that film Once, do you remember that movie? You gotta see that, it’s a great movie.

Small, independent, skin of its teeth filmmaking was integral to your father’s career, as well as yours. Is that something you enjoy being a part of?

Yeah, I do. The main thing that drew me to Hell Or High Water was David McKenzie and seeing Starred Up, do you know that film? What he did with that movie for that little bit of budget that he had to work with, the goods he came up with… It was pretty terrific. I loved working with him, he was great. But yeah that kind of independent movie is wonderful to make. I mean, it’s fun making both big multi-million, $200m, there’s some fun there. Try to have as much as fun always as I can! But these kinda movies… the stories are so terrific, usually. The big budget movies, there’s some kind of formula that they’re working or something like that. Smaller movies are more unique.

Do you find yourself looking back at what you’ve achieved?

Yeah I do that. A couple of things come to mind. My stand-in, Loyd Catlett, we’ve done over 60 movies together, I think that’s a record. We met on Last Picture Show in ’69-’70, whenever we shot that thing and he’s here right now. He’s like a through line through all of those experiences and, unlike me, he’s got a pretty good memory. I can say, “What was that guy’s name? Oh yeah, remember that?” So we relive a lot of the adventures that we’ve had. And also I take photographs. I got this camera called a Widelux that’s a panning still camera and I’ve been doing that since Starman, I guess, taking pictures and making books for the cast and crew. So those books, I’ve got those on my shelf. Whenever I think, “Baker Boys! Let’s relive that, let’s see…” It’s just like looking at home movies. And it’s not somebody else’s home movie, it’s right from my point of view! Where I was. It really snaps me back.

Featured in Total Film magazine.

 

The Fairy (2011)

This brilliantly bonkers French comedy has simple aspirations: it wants to make you laugh. And, with improvised physical comedy taking precedence, it mostly succeeds.

Dom (Dominique Abel) has his life turned topsy-turvy when a woman (Fiona Gordon) looks for a room at his hotel and reveals she’s a fairy.

Their ensuing adventure stick a finger up at logic as they get pregnant, bother the local authorities and perform hilariously low-budget dance routines.

Not all of the jokes land perfectly (a late telephone gag treads too much water), but The Fairy remains infectiously funny throughout. 3/5

Via Total Film

The Making Of Prometheus

Prometheus

The last thing the Alien franchise needed was another sequel. Or, for that matter, another mandible-crunching clash with a Predator. Still, after 1997’s divisive Alien: Resurrection, rumours of an Alien 5 were more persistent than a Facehugger with a crush. Sigourney Weaver didn’t help matters, repeatedly pledging her allegiance to keeping the franchise alive.

Just last year she spoke to Moviefone about returning one last time to round off Ripley’s story. “I would have liked to do one last story where we go back to the planet, where Ripley’s history is resolved,” she said. Sadly, the likelihood of that happening is looking bleaker by the year. “I doubt [it will happen] just because the way the industry is,” she added. “While I can’t speak for them, I think for Fox, once you’re 60, you’re not going to be starring in an action movie. I think it’s too bad that that’s the case.” Another reason it’s unlikely to happen? Ridley Scott’s going back to “the planet”, or LV-426, himself, and he’s left Ripley at home…

Read the full article at TotalFilm.com

Snow White And The Huntsman (2012)

Naturally, it begins with “once upon a time”. And yes, along the way there’s romance, a poisoned apple, a stimulating smooch and a queen with a heart as black as coal.

But despite Kristen Stewart’s pasty-faced princess catching the covetous moongazes of at least two would-be suitors, this fantasy epic’s more about kicking arses than kissing them.

This isn’t the same gilded fairy-land Tarsem Singh upchucked with his yawny Mirror Mirror. Within minutes we’re neck-deep in a bloody battlefield, where King Magnus (Noah Huntley) discovers the bedazzling Ravenna (Charlize Theron), takes her as his new queen, then finds himself at the wrong end of a very sharp blade.

Seizing the throne for herself, Ravenna banishes her step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) to a dank cell and plunges her kingdom into a rotting fug. When Snow comes of age, she flees the castle, only to have Ravenna send the strapping, booze-glugging Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) into the Dark Forest after her. Will it all end happily ever after?

It’s never really a question. Though first-time feature director Rupert Sanders is keen to subvert the original Grimm tale for goth-action thrills, he shies away from all-out revisionism.

A former ad man (he directed an impressive Halo 3 commercial), Sanders got the gig on the strength of a promo reel he stitched together to show off his idiosyncratic vision for the film.

That vision is SWATH’S main strength. Haunted woods, Theron bathing in a vat of creamy milk, then smashing apart into dozens of flapping ravens… The images are stark and effective, and SWATH heaves with tangibly craggy landscapes that are part Dagobah, part Winterfell, entirely believable.

Sadly, the story never matches the exhilarating optics. While Theron’s mental, soul-sucking queen offers theatrical menace, and the numerous action clashes easily get pulses pumping, the plot’s limited to a series of encounters between Snow and often unremarkable B characters.

Of those, Sam Claflin’s useless Prince William (no really) comes off the worst, while poor old Lily Cole puts in a blank, blink-miss performance. Even Hemsworth’s loveable lug is lumbered with an off-kilter Scottish burr.

Leave it to Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone’s octet of mushroom-loving dwarves to lighten the often funereal mood. Singing, dancing, adorably savage, they brighten up SWATH’s second act with warmth and humour.

In a film more in love with its eye-catching terrains than its characters, that’s no shortcoming.

Verdict:
A visually inventive, deliciously dark fairytale reheat. The story’s far from the stuff of legend, but Theron makes for a ferocious meanie, helping to flush away Mirror Mirror’s sugary aftertaste. 3/5

Via Total Film

The Promotion (2008)

Ahead of his return for another slice of American Pie, here’s Seann William Scott in the belated bow of this sporadically funny 2008 dramedy.

As supermarket worker Doug, he endures gangsta car-park loiterers, sexy banjo players and walking on hot coals in hopes of bagging his dream job as manager.

Problem is, John C. Reilly’s sweet-natured Canadian is going for the same gig.

No Stifler-sized belly laughs, but Promotion gets by on nudge-wink observations (shopworkers using the products) and Scott’s easy charm.

Via Total Film

Behind The Scenes: Being Human Series 4

Total Film recently wandered down to the set of the fourth series of Being Human, the BBC’s ever-popular supernatural drama. Here’s what we got up to…
On Set
There’s a topless man on-screen doing press-ups. “98… 99… 100.” He’s barely breaking a sweat. Off-screen, Lenora Crichlow isn’t impressed, cradling a baby and demanding attention. This guy’s having none of it. “101… 102…” he pants. “Oh, you’re just showing off now,” rants Lenora. And… “CUT!”
Total Film is perched by a monitor in a cavernous, abandoned Cardiff bus depot, which is now crammed with the towering, false-backed wooden frames of a massive set. Here, a series four episode of supernatural BBC drama Being Human is being filmed.
Except we don’t recognise the owner of that rather well-defined torso. “He’s our sexy new vamp,” producer Phil Trethowan tells us. “As you can see, he is sexy…”
New Blood
Everything’s changing on Being Human. Entering its fourth year, the super-soap closed out its third on a creative high, but with a devastating blow, as resident vamp Mitchell (Aidan Turner) got wood and bid everybody a fond farewell.
Enter new fanger Hal (Damien Molony), an ancient blood-sucker going on something of a diet. Apparently he’s also rather good at doing press-ups (insider gossip, he didn’t /really/ do 102).
Think the changes were hard on the viewers? They were harder still on the stars of the show. “You’ll never replace Aidan!” screams Damien, doing an impression of Twittersphere BH fans who didn’t like the idea of a new vamp on the block.
“I’m not trying to replace him!” the actor assures TF. Possessing a soft Irish lilt, he’s dressed in a tight black T-shirt, blue jeans and slippers as he chats with us in the show’s Green Room. Friendly, if a little nervous (ours is only his second ever interview), he’s big-eyed and serious when on-screen, dropping the Irish cadence for an upper class English. So just who is Hal?
Hal Of A Guy
“I was a big bad motherfucker of a vampire for a long time,” Damien reveals. “Hal is so different to Mitchell; he’s from a completely different orientation. He’s so OCD. He’s got some great clothes, but it’s all very twee. He’s very different, so I was able to relax a bit.”
Fresh out of acting school, Damien bagged the role just before graduating. His agent called to tell him he’d got the gig four minutes before he was due on-stage for a play in Leeds.
“She screamed: ‘You got it, you fucking got it!’” the actor remembers with a laugh. “That was one of the worst performances I ever did…”
Dearly Departed
Mitchell isn’t the only departee, though. As series four of Being Human opens, resident werewolf George (Russell Tovey) is mourning the death of beau Nina (Sinead Keenan). By the end of episode one, he’s followed her into the big boneyard in the sky.
Show-runner Toby Whithouse knew the changes were coming, though. Mostly. “When he auditioned Aidan Turner, we knew one day we were gonna lose him to be a movie star,” Whithouse reveals. “He’s just that good and beautiful. Similarly with Russell and Sinead and Lenora, you can’t get actors that good and expect nobody else is going to notice.”
So it wasn’t a shock when Russell and Sinead both decided not to return, then? “It was,” the show-runner admits. “It was a shock when Sinead decided she didn’t want to do series four at all, not even one episode. We parted on good terms. The timing was a bit of a shock, but the act itself wasn’t.”
Ghost Stories
Not everything has changed. For a start, phantom Annie (Lenora Crichlow) is still in her patented grey outfit when we meet her for a chat.
“Oh, you noticed,” quips Lenora (or just ‘Nora’, as everybody on set calls her) when TF points that fact out. “It’s this year’s grey! It actually does change each year, it often goes with her emotional state, so this year it’s all very flow-y and mother-y, she has to swaddle the baby.”
Just as her outfit’s subtly evolving, so is Annie’s place in the show. With Mitchell and George gone, she’s suddenly left looking after George and Nina’s baby. “She becomes the heart of the series,” Nora explains. “She has little Eve to look after, which she takes to as well as she can considering she’s a ghost!”
Annie’s also grieving, of course. “So much of her sense of herself is caught up with her friends, George, Mitchell and Nina; they gave her a purpose. There’s a lot of adjusting to losing that. She has to look after Eve, so there’s not much time for grieving.” Talking of Eve…
The War Child
Having a baby on set  (“several”, according to Nora) was always going to shake things up. And they come at a price. Each fake infant, which the cast and crew affectionately call ‘jelly babies’, costs a whopping £4,000.
“We have the jelly baby,” Nora says. “But then we have the real babies as well. We have two sets of twins, so that takes up a lot of Annie’s time. A lot of my time actually, ‘cos you spend ages just cooing at them. I love children.”
One person who’s not so natural with the kids is Damien. “I can’t do babies,” he admits. “My first scene was in the attic and I had to take the baby out of the cot. We had to do about six takes because everybody was like, ‘The neck, the neck!’” Ah, the perils of leaving vampires with children…
New Moon Rising
To complete the show’s trio of ghost, vampire, werewolf, Whithouse turned to Michael Socha, series three bit-player and This Is England star, who they bumped up to series regular.
“I was ever so worried,” Michael says, dressed in his character’s signature grey vest, khaki green trousers and muddy trainers. “I read the script, and I thought, ‘Fuck, Tom’s here now! There’s a lot of him in this!’ In the last series he wasn’t in it half as much.
“There’s certain emotions he’s not revealed before. There’s loads in store for him. He gets a missus. He’s finding his way in the normal world.”
The Tour
After a bite of lunch, it’s time for a tour of the set. We’re led through a warren of corridors and finally wind up in the Honolulu Heights kitchen, which is currently being used as a dumping ground for filming equipment.
A nose around the hallway reveals a great mound of National Geographic magazines piled by the door. Outside, a doormat reads ‘Welcome to the mad house’, and there’s a massive backdrop of a Cardiff street hanging opposite the house.
In the dining room, the set’s been dressed for ‘A Spectre Calls’, the fourth episode of series four. There’s a baby rota on the wall (Annie’s doing), a carrycot in the corner, stuffed toys everywhere. Even the floor’s creaky.
“Apparently it is haunted,” Nora tells us. “You’d think if there’s a ghost they’d come and talk to me personally! At least we could swap notes. But no, I’ve not seen the ghost. I’ve heard all the rumours. I’m quite annoyed…”
Big Bad
Talking of ghostly things, a mysterious threat hangs over the fourth series of Being Human. Whereas series one and three had William Herrick (Jason Watkins), this year there’s a strange ghost from the future, and scary vampires known only as the Old Ones.
“The Old Ones are the old, old vampires,” Nora explains. “They’re centuries old, they’re attracted to our home and are definitely a threat. They’re vampires who don’t have to be invited in. They break a lot of rules.
“They’re an unknown. For Annie it’s terrifying. The more you hear about them and don’t see them, the scarier they get…”
Going Fourth
Being Human has a very vocal fan base, and it’s no surprise that the changes have split audiences. For the most part, though, Whithouse and his writers have been commended for organically developing the show – and the fans have predominantly stuck by them.
“People have been pleasantly surprised by how much they’ve engaged with the new cast,” Whithouse says, “and that’s a testament to Damien, Michael and Lenora. They’ve knocked it out the park. I’m pleased the public have welcomed them.”
After the success of series four, the BBC have swiftly commissioned a fifth round of supernatural hi-jinks. What does that mean for the show, then?
“Who can say?” Whithouse teases. “We stumble from year to year in terms of the commission, so the future isn’t completely assured. As with most TV shows. We’ll always start developing, so we’re developing series five.” Can he reveal anything? “Absolutely nothing.” Talk about a howling shame…

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The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Movie: M. Night Shyamalan’s confident directorial debut, with one of cinema’s most famous rug-pulling twists. Cole (Haley Joel Osment) thinks he can see dead people, so he starts having visits with Bruce Willis’ bemused psychologist. But is Brucie all that he seems?
If It Had Been Found Footage: “I film dead people…” Cole fishes his dad’s old camcorder out of the attic in order to commit his ghostly visitors to celluloid, with seriously spooky results.

Read the full article at TotalFilm.com