Did you enjoy the process of making A Beautiful Mind?
I had a great time with Ron Howard, mate. A really good time.
Everybody says heís a terrific guyÖ
Oh, mate, itís not just that heís a terrific guy; heís a really
skilled film craftsman. Thatís why we got on. Heís very confident about his
knowledge, and about the things heís done in his career. So itís very easy to
talk to him. Itís easy to have a disagreement that doesnít become anything more
than Ö than Ö
A difference of opinionÖ
Exactly. And sharing of information. Considering how strange the script is and
how strange the character was, we had a very easy time. And I think itís quite an
important movie. That was the great thing about walking off that set; I felt that
weíd done something important every day.
You do a lot of research sometimes for roles like thisÖ
Most of the time.
What research did you do for this one?
Well, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma in that even though John Forbes Nash
was a famous figure within mathematical circles, he wasnít a public figure. Now
weíre dealing with Princeton at the end of the 40s and early 50s and there is no
footage available of him as a young man. Even though heís still alive, about 74 now,
and I did happen to meet him. But unlike with The Insider, where I could examine this
bloke two or three years after the situation happened, so he hadnít aged
significantly. But I had black and white photographs of Nash as a young man so I could see
Nash. I asked Ron to go and interview him with specific questions that I had, because
Ronís more likely to get a more even, less adrenalised answer than if Iím
sitting there asking the questions. The reason for the dilemma is that after 35 years of
ageing and medication, and being quite heavily affected by the disease, he didnít
appear to be the older man of the younger self. So I didnít want to take too much in
of him as an older man because I had that journey to do. So I had to kind of imagine him
as a younger man. And, as we had to do with a lot of the script, take the things we knew
and make the rest of it up in order to give the audience, hopefully, the experience he
went through. And thereís a couple of tricks in the movie that shock people every
time itís screened.
So for you itís an important roleÖ
Well, the script was fantastic, and when you see the film youíll see what
Iím talking about and the challenge that I faced and youíll know the beauty of
the relationship between John and his wife Alicia.
This is a transcript of part of an interview recorded November 2001.