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he was talking to me about algebra and algebraic equations and always looking for the X factor or the Y factor in a formula. I think one of the reasons he has this genius ability to make these movies successful is that he looks for actors that provide alternative ways of delivering dialogue or alternative contributions. But he puts it in a formula that appeals to a lot of people the world over. That’s the fun of it.

Q: Do you still form those bonds when you have such young costars like Jay Baruchel and Teresa Palmer?

NC: We had great conversations. Jay had more to do with Teresa than I did so most of my time was with Jay.

I got to know her a little later on and she’s a marvelous actress and also a really good friend. She’s terrific in the movie but Jay and I have similarities. We have a lot of similar interests. We both like mythology and history. I have an open mind to different things and possibilities. It was a lot of fun working together.

Q: How important is transforming your appearance to help you get into character for each movie?

NC: Listen, man, I mean, it’s like look. Actors work with their look. I come from the Lon Chaney Senior school of acting, man.

I want to transform myself. I’ll wear wigs, I’ll wear nose pieces, I’ll wear a green contact lens in my eye. I’ll do whatever I need to do to create a character. That’s what it’s about. That’s the fun of it. So I wanted Balthazar to have a look like - Jerry says like an ancient rock star - but he has that kind of cool style that harkens back to the 500s or the 600s which is where he came from. Merlin was his teacher so I wanted him to have that look. He goes through different ages and then he really starts to look like an ancient magician when you meet him in New York City.

Q: The hair seems the most drastic, like in Con Air and Adaptation.

NC: I’m always changing the color. Now I’m in a movie called Drive Angry, and I’m trying to tap into my Celtic

roots so I dyed it blonde. What do you think?

Q: Pretty awesome. NC: Thank you.

Q: You seem so different in every movie. Sometimes you’re over the top and sometimes you hold it all in. How do you decide what kind of performance to give for each part?

NC: Well, thank you for noticing. First of all, it’s difficult to talk about the work, right? Because when you talk about the

work it’s kind of stupid because the work speaks for itself. I don’t want to name it because when you name it, it loses its mystery, right? If I tell you exactly what I’m thinking or what I was up to - and I have been guilty of that - then I lose my secret connection with the work of art. But - and I digress - I went on Dick Cavett many years ago and I met Miles Davis. I was talking about things like art synthesis and Picasso and that you could do with acting what he did with his music. Miles came out and he got it. Miles Davis, you know. We were sharing the trumpet together and ever since

then, because he accepted whatever my philosophy was, I believe that I wanted to approach acting as jazz. So he became like a surrealist father of sorts, along with Walt Disney, and I thought, ‘Okay, well, this time I’m just going to let anything come out, whatever it may be.’ Like Bad Lieutenant. Sometimes it’s really thought-out and constructed and carefully considered, like Adaptation. So I always like to mix it up. I hope that answered your question. Fred Topel

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