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Feature: Colour of Magic

The Magic of Power

Tim Curry Rocky Horror star Tim Curry dons a pointy hat and uncomfortable shoes as scheming Trymon in the latest Discworld adaptation…

Tim Curry is a bit of a screen legend… indeed not only did he shoot to fame as Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he also got to play the quintessence of Darkness in, ah, Legend, opposite Tom Cruise, about whom we might make a joke if the Scientologists didn’t have lawyers. And on set for the Sky One adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, he’s rather amazed about how the process of making screen Fantasy has come on in the last 20 years.

“Of course the technology has taken such huge leaps,” he says. “It’s so interesting that even in television, the director can now say ‘Oh, don’t worry about that, we’ll paint it out’, or, ‘This section is a CGI’. In Legend there was nothing like that. They weren’t even puppets.”

Asked if that was more of a challenge for an actor than working with green screen and the now proverbial ‘tennis ball on a stick’, he says, “I don’t know if it’s more of a challenge, it just means that, well, one of the things it means is that the apparitions and extraordinary creatures are wonderfully sophisticated now. I did a thing called IT, the Stephen King thing, and we got to the end of it, and ‘IT,’ who had been this insane clown from Outer Space, metamorphoses into the monster of your dreams, and they’d really rather run out of money by then, so they built this rather crappy spider.

“The bathos of it was really chilling, and it was so grimly disappointing. The clown was pretty terrifying, and once you got to this naff spider, it was a terrible disappointment. So I think that advances in technology are really useful in that way, and they seem to be able to give CGI creatures personality now, they really do extraordinary things.”

As a hyper-active voice artist, Curry has a particular influence in the advance of CGI animation. “I’ve always been fascinated by it because I do cartoon voices and I’ve watched the cartoons change so much, and some work better than others. I used to love, when doing cartoon voices, to go into Hanna Barbara and these places and they would have rooms full of artists doing one cell at a time, and I just used to stand there completely fascinated. I had a big collection of cells for a while, and then I discovered that Twiggy’s daughter Carly was going to Edinburgh University because she wanted to be an animator, so I gave her my collection. I love all that stuff; I’m fascinated by what you can do.

“I’ve seen images of them,” he adds, of the creatures featured in The Colour of Magic. “I saw the two dragons today that looked fantastic.”

Which brings us nicely back to his current role, as Trymon, an ambitious wizard on the make in the second live action Discworld mini-series, The Colour of Magic (though Curry’s character actually comes from the next book, The Light Fantastic, which has also been adapted for the two-parter). Curry was a Pratchett novice when he was approached about the part. “I wasn’t aware of Terry Pratchett until I was sent this script, although I’m told that he sells very well in America… I hadn’t been aware of him before.”

by Anthony Brown

Read the full interview in
TV Zone #226

Photo © Sky TV
Feature © Visual Imagination 2008. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #226
March 2008
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