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Published:August 19th, 2011 17:59 EST
One Day`s Jim Sturgess Sheds No Tears

One Day`s Jim Sturgess Sheds No Tears

By H.B. Forman


It takes an extremely charming actor to play a rather unlikable guy. That`s why the very dashing and versatile British actor Jim Sturgess can so easily pull off his portrayal of Dexter Mayhew in the Focus Features film One Day, which opens on August 19.

One Day, sure to make most romantics among us shed a few tears, is based on the best-selling book of the same name from British author David Nicholls.


The sweeping romance begins on July 15, 1988, and shows snapshot images of the lives of Dexter and Emma Morley, played by the irrepressible Anne Hathaway.


Dexter is a wealthy playboy who needs to grow up; Emma is a working class young woman who waits tables and teaches school before coming into her own. The 20 years of their lives chronicled in the movie shows their moments of friendship, tears, love, loss, and much, much, more

Although still a young guy at 33, Sturgess has had a diverse film career, including Across the Universe, 21, the Other Boleyn Girl, Fifty Dead Men Walking, and now One Day.
His next movie he plays opposite Kirsten Dunst in Upside Down.


The theme of this and several other recent romantic comedies is can men and women be friends without the s(e)xual tension?


Jim Sturgess: Yes, I think men and women can be friends. They can be really good friends, but I don`t know if they can be best friends like Dexter and Emma, when that connection is so strong. And they are so compatible, and so connected in that way, there`s something about it, that maybe they can`t. I don`t know.


How did this film One Day come to you?


JS: I was sent the script as a lot of people in England were. I read it and I went for an audition with [the director] Lone Scherfig in London, and we talked about the project and the character and I did some reading with a casting agent. And then I sort of didn`t hear anything for a while. Then I received a phone call asking if I would fly to Los Angeles to meet with Anne [Hathaway], to do some more reading. So I did that. And then I got the part.

Have you known carefree guys like Dexter?


JS: Yes, I do know those types of people. You know, when you live in London, you see them hanging around in the swanky bars in Soho. And they`re not people that I would mix with. So that was kind of fun. But when I read the book, it was so addictive, wanting to learn more about these people`s lives. And I kind of thought, if I was ever going to do a romance film, then this would be the one to go for.


How do you feel about Dexter, who can be such a jerk?


JS: Well, I didn`t particularly like him either. But it becomes your duty as an actor to look into why he`s behaving that way, and then to defend him. So you then start feeling what he`s going through, I suppose. And once you understand him, you can`t dislike him, you know? So it was this whole sort of journey. But there were times when he pretty was vulgar, and annoying. But that made it interested.


Any challenges with One Day?


JS: It was those shoulder pads I can`t get my head around them, I just can`t! The waistcoats and the shoulder pads. I mean, I was alive in the `90s, and I don`t remember people having shoulder pads that big. And the costume lady pulled out a lot of photographs, so I soon had to eat my own words. But it was fun. Dexter`s show was based on that English show, The Word, which we would all stay up to watch.


Can you talk about the aging process in the movie, the make-up, the graying hair and the crow`s feet?

JS: It was fun, sort of looking at how people age from 23 to 43. Twenty years - I thought when I first got the part, `wow, they are going to do all of this prosthetic make-up` and we really looked it and thought you really don`t change that much. Something changes in you, but you still look like the same person, but slightly whiter (in the hair), or life has sort of played a big part in your growing.


Please tell me more about this.


JS: Then it became a tougher job, it was just finding the sort subtleties and when to sort of change him and when to show that he had shifted as a character. Also, when to give him a new haircut, and when to show the gray coming through. It was cool looking through all of the magazines and I couldn`t believe how people used to look back in the `90s. I`m sure I was alive and I definitely remember the `90s, but I don`t remember people wearing suits that were that big.


Since some moviegoers will shed some tears, talk about crying over romantic movies?


JS: Nah, I`m not a big crier. Maybe it`s because I cry a lot in movies, so I`ve wasted all my tears! But I`m not particularly drawn to romantic movies, and I don`t watch them.


So yeah, I haven`t seen that many...tearjerkers! Well, what was the chemistry with Anne like?


JS: Yeah, it was pretty intense. It felt like a bit of a blind date with a famous person! And with all these people watching, to see if you have any chemistry. So you just hope that some sort of chemistry is...oozing out of you!


What would you have done if you and Anne Hathaway couldn`t stand each other, and has that ever happened to you?


JS: I`d have to act a lot harder, probably. Yeah, just bury your head in the script, and hope for the best, probably. But luckily, that wasn`t the case. But, sometimes acting is acting. And you have to pretend.

Tell me about working with Patricia Clarkson, who played your mum, she is both feisty and at the same time she`s very sexy.


JS: She`s a really cool lady; we got to know each other sitting on the train. We caught the train, The EuroStar, from London to Paris, and that was the first time we met. And she grabbed me and said `let`s sit together on the train so we could get to know each other,` and I was terrified, and then it was just the coolest two hours. She was just so funny and we were just chatting. I really like her.


Now, your final scene was getting smacked in the face with paper?


JS: Oh yeah, it was! I think they did that on purpose, I think that was a punishment for something! [He joked] Yeah, it was weird. And then they really never got a close-up of me getting whacked around the face. At 100 miles an hour, with a rolled up newspaper! That`s what they told me anyway, I don`t know if that`s the case.


Did this movie conjure up anything in your own love life?


JS: Yeah, I guess the anniversary of my girlfriend, when we met. Yeah, that was something I remembered, for sure.


Are we going to hear any Jim Sturgess music in the future?


JS: Yeah, I`ve sort of been playing music since I was about 15 years old. I`ve been in bands, and various things. But I write a lot of music with my girlfriend. We have a little studio in our home. And just as we`re both musicians, we just start instinctively to write a lot of music together. So we have all these songs that are kind of sitting there, you know. They`re all kind of demo-ed. They`re all bedroom recordings, as it were. It would be nice to sort of get them in a studio, and maybe work on them. And bring them to life.


What music do you listen to?


JS: Big influences on me were bands that came out in the late `80s and early `90s in Manchester. Bands like The Stone Roses and The Charlatans, and The Happy Mondays. And that was what really turned me on to want to be in a band. Your One Day character has to deal with the pressures of fame.


Are you finding any of those pressures in your own life?


JS: No, not at all. You go to the premieres, and all that stuff. But then you go home, and it`s exactly as it always was. But giving the possibility of celebrity-hood and fame to Dexter, is like a rag to a bull, really. How can you relate to a character like that enough to play him, who is such a dick?


Did the movie and the story make you look at your own personal view of love, regret and relationships and things like that?


JS: I watched the film properly for the first time; it does make you think about other people you have met through your life.


When you watched One Day for the first time were there any scenes in particular that got to you?


JS: It`s hard when you watch a film that you are so immersed in; it`s more like a collection of memories. When you watch a film like this for the first time, you are just remembering all of the experiences that you had when making it. I really enjoyed watching other people`s scenes that I wasn`t in.


Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

JS: It`s impossible to say. Life is sort of changing all the time. You know, I never expected a few years ago to be here now, certainly. But when you`re an actor, your life can change just with a phone call. And you suddenly get a new part, and you`re part of a whole new story. So it`s just open for change, constantly. So I really don`t know where I`ll be in 20 years. Or if I want to know. I`ll just play it out, as it comes.