names Coburn

Star of Affliction

In an age when film stars seem small in stature and lacking in lustre, James Coburn is a timely reminder of how they used to be.

The gangling actor, now with a shock of white hair but the same distinctive toothy grin that beamed through movies like The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and In Like Flint, celebrates his 40th year in movies this year. And he is celebrating this landmark in style, with a cheery cameo in Mel Gibson‘s forthcoming Payback, and an Oscar nomination for his work in Affliction.

In a memorable role the actor evidently had fun going toe-to-toe with screen son Nick Nolte, and relished the opportunity to play the heavy after a film career that more often saw him cast as the hero.

’I played a lot of characters like this when l was first starting out,’ he explains, ’When they did a lot of Western stories on American television series, I got to play a lot of heavies; nasty, bad, shoot ’em, kill ’em types.

'But Affliction is a little different, because it’s really about something,

it’s not just about badness, and it's not a melodrama. It has a significance to it that most scripts don’t have. Most scripts are just stories around a plot, but this one

is about something deeper.’

Taken from Russell Banks’ novel, and directed by Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver and Last Temptation Of Christ) the film weaves a compelling portrait of a man in serious mental and emotional decline, with Coburn’s drunken and brutal character contributing a great deal to the plight that Nolte's character experiences in the


’Paul said he wanted somebody who was big enough and powerful enough to face off with Nolte, who is very powerful,’ Coburn adds. ’He said he would let us

both go at each other, and we did.’

In real life it seems that Coburn is every bit as nice and well balanced as his character is nasty and unhinged.

I'm the daddy now: James Coburn in Affliction

Certainly he did not resort to any kind of Method madness to recreate the tension that is so amply portrayed on screen.

‘To be honest, it was all in the book and the script,‘ he


states, modestly. ’It was a very straightforward piece for the actors, and you really didn't have to go much further than that. But then that’s what actors do. It's not necessary to be the character for more than three or four minutes, you have to leave it behind because it can really be damaging if you carry it round with you all the

’Acting is about using your technique, finding out what the character is about, finding out how to get there and then just doing it. You don’t become that

person, you put on the clothes of that person. That's the

Whale's song: Ian McKellen in Gods And Monsters

Ian McKellen Star of Gods And Monsters

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'I wish : would say that the minute I read the str'pt I knew how good the film would he,’ he laughs. 'But I don't think I looked rrzuth beyend thinking it was a very intr‘itjurnrj way of sketching in someones life story. I realised it was very witty and lll(,‘\.’|ll(;, and largely true I also felt Whale was portrayed as a believable gay man and as a director, whit h is very unusual for rnovres.

‘What I hadn't anticipated were my own feelings when I saw rt I felt rt was constantly rrrovrng, and in areas that I hadn't experted The relationship between the two men was nicely tornplex, not just (jin and straight, not just old and young, and not just English and American But particularly the ‘a<t that While had been «i servrng ultrtt-r r.'.l‘i‘ stunned the ".‘.’(‘ir|d \Var l, and the young rrran who'd never even seen And it was all reflected llzlil. :n the tilrns he rnade, which are lliernsel‘~.t-s 'naste'ly It's easy to enjoy and he lilt)‘.'("(l by this tilrri, but after <35 things have been stirred up .n you ' <Anwar Brett)

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preview FILM Jaki McDougall

Director of Glasgow Film Theatre

Glaswegian movre-Iovers can rest easy: the OFT will be in safe hands when its new director takes over from Ken Ingles in May. laki McDougalI (currently of the British Film Institute) possesses the one attribute essential to a person in her position a passionate love for cinema.

Ask her about films and she’s off, full of erudite enthusiasm. ’I’m an enormous Cassavetes fan, so maybe I’d start wrth A Woman Under The Influence,’ she says, listing her ’dream season’ of pictures to screen at GFT, ’Then a western Once Upon A Time In The West. Because I’m back home in Glasgow, Imitation Of Life and Madame X, which remind me of sitting weeping on the sofa wrth my mum. Then, a "late night” from my time at the Cameo: Blue Velvet or Sid & Nancy.’

Leone, Sirk, Lynch this is indeed a catholic taste, but shouldn’t detract from McDougaIl’s desire to screen the contemporary alongside the classic.

’I want to present as much new work as possible, because I think our audience are interested in that,’ she explains, ’They’re very well informed and they want to see new talent. I hope to be able to continue screening short films for that reason; the audience enjoy spotting someone early in their career.’

These are difficult times for cinemas like the (EFT, which can be faced wrth the infuriating srtuation of wanting to screen a new film but havrng to wart in line for a print. ’That certainly is a concern,’ says the Glasgow-born McDOugall ’The exhibitors want to maXimise income from the smallest number of prints, wrth the lowest marketing budget. I want to emphasise that it's not an us and them srtuation. We’re on the same side. If we work together, we can screen the trims and they get the revenue.’

This spirit of co-operation extends even to the twelve-screen behemoths which would appear to threaten the very existence of the OFT ’We'ie part of the same industry as the rnultrplexes,’ ihSists McDougall. 'But we’re the Research and Development department.’ (Rob Fraser)

Celluloid junkie: laki McDougall

18 Mae—l Apr l‘iQ‘.) THE “ST 23