Filming Pillars of the Earth
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JW: One of the things about Prior Philip that's interesting as a character is that he's a priest and a politician. How did you approach playing that duality?

MM: Well, he's a real person, you know. It gives it depth and interest when it's written like that. He's certainly not without his vanity or his pride. He says, "My chief weakness is pride." He knows he's good at his job, so he does cut corners and he does make compromises. Sometimes he does the wrong thing for the right reasons. He's interesting; it's not all black-and-white. He's certainly not holier-than-thou or pious. It's just a very interesting character, warts and all.

JW:You do so much stage work, as well as film. Do you have a favorite medium or a favorite role you've done so far?

MM: I don't have a favorite medium. I just did a play recently [Private Lives] that I loved, but I was sort of relieved when it finished. I really loved it, but you sort of adore it for the time and after awhile you think, "Okay, on to the next." That condition of being an actor I quite like—you never really know what you're going to do. As much as I long for a sort of security and consistency sometimes, I do enjoy sort of being busted around. I really don't know what's happening sometimes next week, let alone this year. I love TV and I love making films and I love doing plays. I feel very lucky to be able to do all three.

JW: It must be interesting also to go on location. You ended up in Hungary for Pillars.

MM: Yeah, Hungary and Vienna. It was fantastic. It's such a fantastic country and really wonderful people. It's beginning to get and has already has a good kind of infrastructure for making movies there; it's just brilliant. A great crew, a really good crew. We started in middle summer and ended up very cold. So we went boiling hot to freezing cold. We were there for five months with a little interlude in Vienna.

When you're on a shoot that long, you're so aware of how amazingly talented and tough the crew are because they are on every single day and they don't have anywhere to go and lie down—the cast gets very pampered. Our camera crew, which was fantastic, and I just think Sergio who directed it is a very special guy.

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