David Thewlis on Choosing Roles: “Sometimes it’s not that I chose it but that that was the one that came along”


David Thewlis is a prolific actor — he appeared in War Horse, The Lady, Anonymous, and Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows: Part II in 2011 alone — and has appeared in dozens of films since the 1980s.

However, Thewlis admits to the Los Angeles Times that he doesn’t always pick his roles on artistic grounds: sometimes there are other, more practical reasons why he makes his role choices.

Thewlis admits that when it comes to choosing roles it isn’t always about choosing the best roles.  Sometimes it all has to do with timing.  He confesses, “People sometimes say, ‘Why do you choose a part?’ and sometimes it’s not that I chose it but that that was the one that came along.  I did Basic Instinct 2 because I had a baby about to be born and the director said we could shoot before the due date.  I guess the clue was in the title.”

But Thewlis has a story that even tops that. 

When Thewlis and his former wife actress, Anna Friel, were living in Los Angeles, Thewlis and their infant daughter were in the country on tourist visas and thus had to leave the country every three months to renew them.  Thewlis was tired with the process, and put a call into his agent, asking, “I need a visa. Can you get me a job in the U.S.? I don’t care what it is.”  As a result, Thewlis found himself in cast in Veronika Decides to Die, a 2009 Sarah Michelle Gellar drama which has yet to receive an official US or UK release and has received mostly average reviews.  But Thewlis ended up with his work visa.

Unfortunately he has one constant reminder of his desperation.  He reveals, “The only problem is that it says the title on your passport. So now every time I come into the country the border guards will say, ‘Why does it say that Veronika has decided to die on your passport?’ It’s a good thing I didn’t do a movie called ‘Known Terrorist.'”

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