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Toby Kebbell

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With his latest film, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, in cinemas, the British actor discusses working in Hollywood and ponders his dream project.

With a couple of Most Promising Newcomer and Best Supporting Actor nominations and awards under his belt, Toby Kebbell continues to build his film capital this summer by appearing in not one, but two blockbusters from super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer. In the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Kebbell provides the comic relief as a Criss Angel-style egomaniac magician, whose fame and fortune mask the fact that he’s actually a dark wizard. LWLies caught up with Kebbell to see how life is treating him over the pond.

LWLies: You seem to really enjoy playing these egotistical characters. What’s that about?

Kebbell: I’m fascinated by humans with huge egos, and they’re so simple to perform because they’re shallow. So it’s a laziness on my behalf, I have to confess, but it’s also incredibly creative. You absolutely get to run riot with that side of yourself.

What’s it like working on a Bruckheimer movie, as opposed to, say, working with Guy Ritchie?

It’s a lot more fun. You get to create exactly what you please. Sometimes on a low budget film, you need support on something you’re having a problem with and it’s not always there because they don’t have the time. Whereas something like a Bruckheimer film, you’ve got masses of time and masses of capability.

And what was it like working with Nic Cage?

Nicolas Cage! It was like having rainbows in my shoes! No, it was fantastic. He such a calming human being and he really holds it as his responsibility as the older actor to make sure everyone’s comfortable and getting on with their work. His knowledge is vast on so many subjects. So my adoration of him grew into a massive respect.

We’ve caught up with you a couple of times now, once on Control and once on RocknRolla, and both times you’ve said you were just happy to be working. Have you found that passion project yet?

A project that I’m desperate to do, and it’ll probably never happen, is called The Wettest County in the World. It’s written by Nick Cave and John Hillcoat is attached to direct it. The script is so beautifully written – it’s about three brothers who're gin distillers during Prohibition. I’m also fascinated by drunks because I find them the most egotistical, and I always love to be down the pub and just watch a chap whose face is so red, you can’t comprehend how he’s actually around. You never get an insight into that. It’s just a great film.

Why will it probably never happen?

It will be very difficult to finance and I’ll possibly never get the role. Unfortunately, even with American independents you need a name, so that’s the purpose of doing the last three films, to boost my name. I don’t think you need to do that and be at parties and doing all those nonsense things. I just think you need to perform really well and stay disciplined and show people that you’re very versatile.

Next up you’ve got The Conspirator. Can you tell us a little about that?

It’s the trial of Mary Surratt. Mary Surratt was the mother of John Surratt, who was one of the conspirators involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Well, the assassination of Lincoln was completed by John Wilkes Booth, who was an actor and that’s the character that I play. And he’s actually the only successful assassin. The rest of them, it either went wrong, or they chickened out – but originally they were going to kidnap him. So it’s just this fascinating story with Robin Wright, Kevin Klein and James McAvoy, all performing to the peak of their abilities beautifully directed by Robert Redford. I’m in flashback format. Unfortunately it’s a not a huge roll, but it was an honour.

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