Feature: Ben Whishaw for ES Magazine

written byMouzaonFebruary 19, 2023

As I am walking down Dean Street to meet Ben Whishaw at the Soho Hotel, an awkward thought occurs to me.

We are supposed to be discussing Women Talking, an adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel, Women Talking, which is about, yes, women talking. Specifically, it’s about women working out how to respond to an epidemic of horrifying male sexual violence in an ultra-orthodox religious community. It’s up for two Academy Awards: Best #MeToo Allegory and Best Adapted Deconstruction of the Patriarchy. Whishaw is the only adult male in a starry female ensemble (Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand…) and his character’s function is basically to shut up and take notes.

So we will be men talking about women talking. Go us! But Whishaw being the Crown Prince of Awkwardness; naturally this awkwardness has already occurred to him.

‘It’s a bit of a difficult one, isn’t it?’ he says, shifting awkwardly in his chair. He’s dressed in all black, with heavy glasses and copious gemstones on his fingers, and his voice is the voice that my two-year-old son squeezes out of a talking teddy bear most nights (‘It’s nice being a bear. Especially a bear called Paddington’). And my goodness, if you thought this man was compelling in Hamlet, or A Very English Scandal, or This is Going to Hurt, or that sketch where Paddington has tea with the Queen — well, you should see him shifting awkwardly in a chair.

His green eyes dart from side to side with reptilian speed. His fingers perform a baroque ballet that would take others years of training. In the novel Women Talking, his character, August, admits: ‘I don’t have a catchy method of conversing and yet unfortunately suffer on a minute-to-minute basis the agony of the unexpressed thought’ — and well, you can see why they cast Whishaw. He has a gift for bringing an inner life squirming into the light. The phrase he leans on most is ‘I think’: 39 times during our conversation, to be precise.

Whishaw is also very much a necessary energy in the film — which is not only about women talking, but men listening. August represents a faltering, vulnerable, hopeful and ultimately resolute masculinity that I can imagine few actors being able to pull off (he also harbours a childhood romance with Mara’s character, Ona, which I promise will break your heart into a million pieces). ‘I felt like it was a role that was asking you to just be there in a very simple way,’ Whishaw says. ‘I felt very connected to him, actually. I felt personally like it could be me. Some roles feel really, really close like that.’ And besides, the more we talk, the more clear it becomes that his thoughts go rather beyond simple categories of male and female. [More at Source]

Feature: British Vogue’s 2023 Hollywood Portfolio

written byMouzaonJanuary 28, 2023

What do you love about acting?

Somehow forgetting yourself and being lost in imagination.

Have you stolen anything from set? 

Three or four pairs of socks that belonged to the character Q. They were very nice socks.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’d like him to give me some advice. I feel a bit lost now. I think I knew more when I was younger.

When was the moment that you realised you wanted to be an actor?

I always loved dressing up in other people’s clothes, anything that was lying around. And so, as soon as I realised that there was such a thing as actors, I wanted to be one. [Source]

Feature: Ben Whishaw for The Sunday Times!

written byMouzaonFebruary 19, 2022

It’s a classic dinner party conversation. Who would play you in the TV show of your life? When news first broke that his diaries were going to be made into a series, Adam Kay told the press that he was hoping Judi Dench would play him. “I didn’t want to jinx it,” he tells me now. “So I was naming grandes dames of theatre.” But right from the start there was one actor at the top of his wish list. “Since moment one I knew it had to be Ben.” [Rest of the article is under a paywall]

Feature: Ben Whishaw for The Guardian

written byMouzaonFebruary 04, 2022

Ben Whishaw, quite apart from being one of the best British actors we have, is an expert dunker of his biscuits in tea. I’ve seen it: he’s a McVitie’s ninja, with a method all his own. We meet one afternoon in the offices of a London film company and I get the chance to observe his distinctive work first-hand, as digestive after digestive gets taken up by Whishaw, then dipped (sometimes double-handed) into a cuppa that he props on a table in front of him. Each biscuit gets submerged for so long, you suppose there’s no chance of it ever coming out whole. Each biscuit later re-emerges, sodden, milliseconds from ruin, still intact.

“I’m no good at interviews,” Whishaw, 41, apologises, right away.

He has played Hamlet, Sebastian Flyte, Ariel, Paddington, James Bond’s gadget man Q; all manner of bold fictional characters behind which to hide an innate, real-world shyness. In February, Whishaw will appear in the BBC’s adaptation of Adam Kay’s bestselling medical tell-all, This Is Going to Hurt – another cocksure character, another place to hide. “I find it hard meeting people for the first time,” Whishaw shrugs. “I find it anxiety inducing. I get a shaky, unsettled feeling in my belly. Just warning you now!”

And it’s true that the actor, with his wiry limbs crossed at sharp angles, the focus of his green eyes often darting away to the middle distance, comes across as socially nervous. Even so, he’s compelling company, and before the end of our conversation he’ll have spoken with careful thought and bracing honesty about sexuality; self-knowledge; LGBTQ+ casting in the film industry; his frustration with the Bond franchise, all sorts. Along the way I start to notice that, actually, there are telling parallels between the way Whishaw approaches a one-on-one interaction such as ours and his perilous technique for dunking biscuits. Whenever the conversation takes a turn, he’ll start out strong. Ideas. Confessions. Then he might lose faith and check himself (“God. I’m waffling … I have no idea what I’m saying, Tom”). Then, right when all looks lost, the biscuit doesn’t break apart, he regathers his efforts, he comes at some idea anew, and often winds up making a point that is richer and subtler than the one he started with. [More at Source]

Photos: Ben Whishaw for 1883 Magazine

written byMouzaonNovember 09, 2020

I’ve updated the gallery with photos of Ben posting for 1884 Magazine Risqué issue! Make sure to buy yourself a copy then head to the gallery for the shoot.

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