Disclosure: I was provided with an all-expense trip to LA by Walt Disney Studios to attend these events. All opinions are 100% my own.
When Domhnall Gleeson walked into the room and was presented with 25 bloggers he was noticeably taken aback. We seem to elicit that response a lot. He collected himself and was genuinely happy to start answering our questions about General Hux and his role in this film. He was incredibly charming and funny.
Have you seen the film and what is your first impressions?
They had a screening for the cast, and I think it was the right idea. I decided I would rather see it with like two thousand people who don’t know what’s going to happen. The Force Awakens premier was insane. I was there with my dad and my friend Lawrence. I didn’t want to miss out on that being my first experience with the film, so I’m waiting till whatever day it is next week.
What Color lightsaber would you have in real-life?
I do have a lightsaber in real life but it’s just one of the plastic ones, [LAUGHTER], and it’s red. When I went to one of the premier things last time around, Harrison Ford was there and they were giving out these plastic ones to the fans, and I picked a green one ‘cause I’m Irish. So I was talking to my agent and I was kind of waving the thing around, and I saw Harrison Ford was looking over at me, and I was like, oh (puts lightsaber down)! So I got my photo with him and that was super cool, and so I’ve got a red one and a green one.
Is Han Solo is your ultimate, favorite character in Star Wars?
Can you say that? I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that. See, when I was a kid, I was like an Indiana Jones kid. More than Star Wars even. So that was like my childhood was Harrison Ford in a different movie. Then by the time I kinda came up the prequels were coming out, and I saw them in the cinema, but I’d never seen the original trilogy. I just missed it. My big experience was when I was deciding whether I could be in the Force Awakens, JJ gave me a file of the original Star Wars, and I watched it on a big screen and that was amazing! Then they all became my favorites. How diplomatic is that? They’re all my favorites but I do love Han Solo.
How do you feel about Star Wars going to Ireland and filming there?
I love it. I love that the people who went there had an amazing time. I love that they got good weather. I love that they were all the way up and down the west coast. Ireland is my home, I think it’s the best place in the world, and I’m just happy for people to see it. It’s an intensely beautiful place, and they got to see it in intensely beautiful weather, which is ridiculous. That never happens, [LAUGHTER].
So when they came back and they were all talking about what a good time they had in Ireland, even though I had nothing to do with that, I have to say I was pretty, pretty proud.
Did you take anything from past villains and bring it into General Hux?
You can’t steal, right, but like obviously his place in things at the beginning of the film is like Peter Cushing’s kind of role. That’s kind of in terms of just the scheme of the way the villains are set up. He would be kind of fulfilling that role a little bit. Then you have to go to the real world to find your influences. You can’t take your character notes from other characters. I think you want to base it on something that’s real.
I understood where he stood in things, but no, the influences would have come from elsewhere. And also just about how he’s got to fit into the story, that was a real process with JJ of understanding the most interesting version of Hux, and the most interesting version of Hux, it turns out, which is not there from the very beginning, was the one that’s actually very dysfunctional with Kylo Ren and kind of battling for their place in things.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character arc in the first film in the first film versus the character arc in this film?
No! [LAUGHTER] The character arc in the first film, he goes from a very good place to a very bad place in terms of his standing in things. I think it’s pretty obvious he wants his place on the throne. He wants to be in charge of Kylo Ren as opposed to whenever Snoke goes, that’s what Hux wants. But he’s in a really much worse place at the end of the first movie than he was at the beginning in terms of achieving that goal.
That’s where we basically start the second movie, so, just in terms of an arc, you’re just starting the character in a much worse place. A much more desperate place, much more uncomfortable place, and I think that’s a good place to put somebody like Hux. Taking a step back from him and thinking objectively, you want Hux to suffer. That is what you want for somebody like that, who behaves like that, and who carries himself like that. And I liked creating somebody that that would end up being the feeling you would have for him. So we start with a place where we’re ready to see him suffer.
In the first film, we saw that you channeled a lot of inner rage. How did you channel this for yourself and for your character and ultimately find the character that you wanted to portray?
I think, even less than, or more than rage, I think there’s a desperation about him, which is very unbecoming. There’s a need at all times to make sure that everybody knows that he’s important; that they should do what he says, that he deserves his position in things. But he knows that he’s now as powerful as Ren, really when it comes to it. If it came to a first fight, he’s dead within ten seconds. And Ren wouldn’t have to use his fist, he’d just like force choke him or whatever.
That’s where he is at all times, so you just try and just put yourself in a desperate place, and then say, right I’m getting rid of that, and now I’m pretending that I’m powerful, even though something in there is worried that you’re not. I think insecurity is where he, those are not solid foundations, you know? And that’s where we tried to start him from.
Is there ever a moment on set where you had a geek-out moment, like, oh my gosh, I’m in this?
Oh my gosh? That’s so polite, [LAUGHTER]. I use different words. Yes, there are. There are lots of moments like that because the scale of things. Because of how much Star Wars means to people. Because just the history of it. I mean, there aren’t many, like, Harry Potter was a huge journey, and that was over, those films were over; twelve years, ten years, something like that, you know what I mean? This has been going on since.
There are so many things which are part of growing up, which are part of people’s childhoods. Star Wars would have been the first movie for a lot of people. There’s just something that’s a position of privilege, so loads of moments like that. Anytime, without giving anything away of who I worked with on this or didn’t work with, but when you’re on set, other people have to come on set to show Rian a costume in person, or, you know, to talk to him about something. So the days when you don’t know somebody’s gonna be in, and you’re kinda talking to Rian about something and then Mark Hamill just strolls up in his Luke Skywalker gear, you’re like what the f- [LAUGHTER]. You’re like, oh my gosh… [LAUGHTER]. Those moments, when you’re not expecting them, and he’s there on a Star Wars set and you’re like, what are you doing in the evil place? Why are you hanging out here, and it’s like, oh he just here to see Rian. Like, those things are kind of amazing. Those where you pinch yourself.
In Harry Potter, you were Gryffindor, on the good side, and now you’re playing a villain. Which, which do you tend to side with more, like, personally? Are you light or are you dark?
We all have our dark moments, everybody has those, and those moments when you remind yourself that you should be a person than what your instinct to do is or whatever, that there are other people. I think generally, hopefully I’m not that bad about remembering that the good of the people is more important than the good of your own thing, which obviously these days is getting trampled all over all over the place, but yeah, hopefully I’m not – I’ve never killed anyone, [LAUGHTER]. Yeah, you just start there and work backwards.
How much does Star Wars really kind of reflect our times that we’re living in?
This will sound like I’m hedging my bet right, but like, most pieces of great art reflect something about the times you live in, no matter when you live. I’ve heard that this film is particularly, you can really, really do whatever you want with it in terms of it being contemporary and relatable to people and all the rest of it. I think that, there’s never a lack of evil in- or not evil. Never a lack of bad intention in the world and people only out for their own interest and the interest of the few. That’s been around forever and will always be around. That’s not gonna disappear. So I think you can just compare it to any time, but obviously what brilliance of Star Wars is that when you watch it you can be entertained by the dark side, whereas in real life, that isn’t entertaining, that’s terrifying. Different.
So what’s next for you?
I have this movie in Sundance called A Futile & Stupid Gesture, which is about the setting up of National Lampoon, which is a very different film to Star Wars. Then there’s Peter Rabbit, which is also a very different film to Star Wars, but I’m playing Mr. McGregor, so I’m kind of like the enemy in that again. Then a bit of time off. I’ve done a lot of work in the last couple years and I’ll go back to Dublin and chill out and just try to be around my family for Christmas. Yeah, that’s the notion. That sounds like the dark side, right?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Official trailer – In theaters December 15, 2017
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