Celebrity Interview: Talking with Armie Hammer on Final Portrait, Geoffrey Rush and Inspiration

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Armie Hammer, who's star power is seriously on the rise, is becoming quite well known and after his award nominated performance in Call Me By Your Name, is their anywhere on the planet where he isn't recognized?

 

With four films in 2016, including his shocking performance as Samuel Turner in The Birth of a Nation and Hutton Morrow in Nocturnal Animals, directed by the former Gucci fashion designer, turned director Tom ford, Hammer has continued to showcase his acting talent in all the right places.

On the recent media day for Final Portrait, which has Hammer portraying James Lord a gay man and social gadabout fortunate enough to make the right connections and as the story goes placed the most important phone call of his career and called Pablo Picasso to which a friendship bloomed which gave him entre to the Parisian art circles.


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Portraying James Lord marks the second consecutive released film where Hammer plays a gay man, which he explains "is the fun of the job." Given the accolades he received over the recent awards season, sexual orientation isn't the draw for Hammer as "it's about putting yourself in someone's else shoes and trying to understand the road they walk."

Final Portrait, is essentially the story of James Lord and his friendship with the sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti, (pronounced Jac-o-metti) who honors him with a request to sit for a portrait.

Hammer explained his take on James Lord: "James Lord was such a fascinating character and he was such a prolific writer whether it was his fictional work or non-fictional or even his correspondence. I have all his the original letters he sent to his mother. I had his journals. There was a wealth of information for to me to play him."

The film, directed by Stanley Tucci, has Hammer sitting with the same stoic look, which Hammer also recognized is a challenge, as 60% of the film has him sitting in one place, with no movement.

With a brief window available to speak with him, it was important to understand his approach in  allowing the portrait sessions to have the life they deserved.

Janet Walker: So, how do you make that not boring from Day 1 to Day 19? We understand every time the character makes to telephone call to change the reservations, there is a tone in your voice to reflect the shifting emotions. Still this is such an honor, an honor Day one, and on day 19? How do you move the audience?

Armie Hammer: There is a great Russian film maker, I'm blanking on his name right now. He would show the picture of a man's face and then he would show a couple embracing and kissing and happy and then cut to man's face and ask, 'What is he thinking?' The audience would say 'he's in love.' And then they would show a train speedy at a baby carriage or something like that, and then cut back to the man's face and say 'What is he thinking?' They would say 'he's terrified, he's nervous, he's anxious.' It was the same image both times but the audience would basically transplant whatever they were feeling onto the face or something like that. And we relied on that [technique] a little bit.

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We also wanted to make it interesting by sort of like really, I mean 90% of all communication is non-verbal anyway, you pick up body language, you pick up little movements, so we focused on those little things to take the audience on the journey.

For those who don't know, Hammer grew up on Grand Cayman Island, which can be considered by some as unusual. He shared how he was bit by the entertainment industry bug while escaping from his island boundaries by watching characters on the screen.

Pressing him for a few of the films which provided an escape, he explained living on an Island they all provided escape. And while he didn't know how he wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry he only knew that movies, providing an escape was for him and that was what he wanted to do. Fortunately movies still provide a love for him.

On Geoffrey Rush: I was given the privilege and honor of just sitting and watching Geoffrey Rush. He is the hardest working actor I have ever worked with in my life. We would shoot all day. And at the end of the day I'd get home and I'd be exhausted and my phone would ring and I'd say 'Hello,' and he would say, 'Armie, It's Geoffrey, What are you doing?'"

And I'd say, 'I just got home, take a shower, have a beer, go to bed.' And he say, 'Why don't you come over and we'll talk about the scenes for tomorrow.' You want to say, I really just want to go to bed, but Geoffrey Rush has just called you and asked 'Do you want to rehearse?'

And you go to his place and you work for several hours [he emphaized] going over every single line, every single thing that goes on in the scenes. Then you say, 'Geoffrey, we're getting picked up in six hours, can we sleep a little?' And then on weekends, 9:00am on Saturday and the phone would ring and it would be Geoffrey and he say, 'Why don't come to my place?' And you would sit there for seven or eight hours. He would go over everything. It was amazing to see someone of that level of talent still putting that much effort into it. It was refreshing a little bit.

Armie Hammer can be seen in Final Portrait, opposite Geoffrey Rush, in theaters everywhere. See it.

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