Ever since his breakthrough role as a grieving father in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, Bruce Greenwood has remained one of the most dependable character actors working in Hollywood today. Whether he’s playing President John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days or Christopher Pike in Star Trek, he never fails to give a terrific performance. The same rings true for the actor’s latest film, Endless Love.
Shana Feste’s remake of the 1981 romantic drama sees Greenwood playing Hugh Butterfield, a doctor and father who becomes increasingly concerned when his daughter Jade (Gabriella Wilde) becomes involved with a boy (Alex Pettyfer) from the wrong side of town.
Last week, I had the privilege of speaking with Bruce for an exclusive interview when he was at the Endless Love press junket, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California. During our time together, he spoke about what drew him to the film, the challenges of working with fire on set, what it was like filming in Atlanta and more.
Check it out below and enjoy!
Your performance was terrific as always. You’re really one of the most reliable actors in movies today, I have never seen you give a weak performance in anything.
Bruce Greenwood: Thank you, that’s very kind.
You’re welcome. What specifically made you want to do this movie?
Bruce Greenwood: I love the subject matter. I loved that it was this somewhat traditional kind of set up where a young woman falls in love with a guy from the wrong side of tracks and the father objects. We’ve seen that dynamic and it’s been sort of standard fare for protagonist and antagonist for a long time. But what’s different about this was the way they manage to layer in the father’s resistance in such a way that you feel as though it’s reasonable until it becomes irrational and unreasonable. I thought that journey to the unreasonable was actually pretty well drawn.
That’s interesting because this is a character that really could go one way or the other, and it could have been a one-dimensional villain, but he’s really not. You can’t blame him for being concerned about his daughter, obviously, but he’s also trying to control something (or somebody) that he’s not going to be able to control for much longer.
Bruce Greenwood: Yeah. He’s had a lifetime as a doctor, which is about controlling outcomes, and then he discovers with his son that he not only can’t control an outcome, but it turns into the worst thing you can imagine. And all those expectations, his son having been premed, are now transported onto his only daughter. And all of a sudden, just when he’s managed to begin to believe that control is possible, if you’re really, really careful, it all begins to unravel.
One thing I really like about your acting is that there are certain scenes where your character is saying one thing but his eyes are saying something else. As an actor, is it hard to pull that off?
Bruce Greenwood: It’s challenging if you don’t know specifically what that disapproval is. If you know specifically what the disapproval is, then you can have your internal monologue involved in that disapproval while you are fronting with whatever the lie is.
What were the challenges of shooting the sequence where the houses on fire? That certainly did not look safe.
Bruce Greenwood: Well, you know, it’s never really comfortable. You are running in and out with masks on, but it’s always tougher for the crew than it is for you, although they’re wearing masks. It’s a little bit chaotic as everybody is in lots of safety meetings and it’s very specific what you’re gonna be doing, but you also have to sort of get yourself in a state of mind where part of your brain is reserved for being safe, and the large part of your brain is reserved for feeling as though things are out of your control, and it feels that way sometimes. It can be a little unnerving.
While watching the fire sequence, I kept looking to see if the flames were mostly digitally rendered, but it all looked very real.
Bruce Greenwood: Well, there was a lot of flames. It was hot. We had a huge stage, and every 40 minutes or so they’d open these massive stage doors and bring in these big fans that are 6 feet across like the propellers for a small plane. They’d turn a couple of those on blowing in one direction and a couple more sucking in and getting the air moving out, so it was thick and nasty.