“Stroke Victim” Samantha Morton Eats Journalist For Lunch

Samantha Morton may begrudge Nicole Kidman for taking her roles, but there are perks to being an under-the-radar character actress. For example, you can have a stroke without the press knowing about it. Her “candid” interview about her stroke and recovery will be published in next week’s Observer. In a preview of the upcoming interview, The Observer reports:

In 2006 it was announced that Morton had pulled out of a thriller called Transsiberian. The story was that she was to be replaced in her role by fellow English actress Emily Mortimer because she had been hurt when part of the ceiling fell down on her in her new home. This was only half of the truth. A few days after the accident that summer she had suffered a stroke as a result of injuries to her head. The devastating nature of her health problem has been partly masked by her prodigious workload since returning to work.

Morton, who took a year-and-a-half off work to recover, had to re-learn how to walk due to her affliction. During her ordeal, she became close with Spiritualized frontman Jason Pierce, who was also going through health problems at the time. “Jason and I have been mirroring each other,” she says. With the help of friends, she became well enough to return to work and, just two months ago, she gave birth to her second child.

Her secret health struggle isn’t the only reason that Morton’s back in the news. She’s starring as a “Marilyn Monroe impersonator” in Mister Lonely, an indie film directed by offbeat filmmaker Harmony Korine. And, yay, that means Morton’s doing lots of press interviews, and we all know how she loves those. Morton gives her most combative interview in recent memory with The TimesSathnam Sanghera, who was vomiting profusely throughout the chat, if that’s any indication of how well things were going. Here’s the best part:

I suggest that, despite the range of [her] performances, something seems to link the roles: not only does she invariably play them all brilliantly, but they’re the kind of characters you wouldn’t see Keira Knightley playing. The remark goes down as badly as my last few attempts at meals.

“I think people need to stop being rude about her, I really do.” She picks up her coffee.

“Hold on, weren’t you horrible about her recently?” (Actually, she wasn’t.)

She puts the cup back down without having taken a sip. “I’m never horrible about women in the industry.”

“You were horrible about Liz Hurley.”

“I wasn’t.”

“You said, ‘She’s not an actress. I wouldn’t think she’d do street theatre in Poland, would you? Do you really think she loves her craft? No.’”

“I was misquoted. I like Liz Hurley. I’d like to see a little more camaraderie in the film industry actually, especially in Britain.”

Clearly, Sanghera did himself no favors when she misquoted Morton on Keira Knightley. It is in that moment that Sanghera loses Morton’s respect for the rest of the interview. And the “horrible” quote about Liz Hurley is attributed to an old article in The Daily Mail. ‘Nuff said. The next section is a little trickier for Morton to wiggle her way out of:

“What about Tim Robbins? You had a right go at him.”

“I would never have a go at Tim Robbins.”

“But you did.”

“Where?”

“You were in that Michael Winterbottom film together. Code 46.”

“That’s right. Is this something he said, that I had a go at him?”

“No, you were quoted saying?”

“Quoted saying what?”

“Something along the lines of him not putting enough into his part.” The actual reported remark was: “My relationship with Tim was pretty bad. I don’t think he’d done his research into how Michael shoots and so he was unhappy creatively.”

“That’s completely untrue.”

Well, not completely untrue. Morton allegedly made these comments in an interview with The Independent back in 2003:

When I inquire if Code 46 was everything she wanted it to be, she struggles to say only nice things (she adores Winterbottom), then blurts out, “My relationship with Tim Robbins was pretty bad.”

It was more that the way we both act didn’t click. What that’s created is an amazing tension on screen. But um,” she says stiffly, “on set, sometimes there’s just a wrong cog. Tim’s so different from the way we all are. I don’t think he’d done his research into how Michael shoots and so he was unhappy creatively.

She can’t hold herself in any longer. “When I’ve gone into environments that I don’t personally find as suited to me as others, I’ve adapted. But I think Tim’s quite set in his ways.” She giggles. “It’s like putting Helena Bonham Carter in a Harmony Korine film.”

I wouldn’t exactly characterize this as “having a go.” When she says, “My relationship with Tim Robbins was pretty bad,” she goes on to clarify that comment by claiming that they simply didn’t click. It happens. People have different temperaments and ways of working. Of course, Sanghera omits those comments.

By the way, I found an interview with Tim Robbins that helps to illuminate what really happened with Michael Winterbottom on the set of Code 46.

TIM: …This is the only movie that I have ever been on that I have been close to death. Once that happened, my attitude changed a little bit.

Q: What happened?

TIM: We were filming in a car, and I was driving and there was no trail car or no lead car. I was driving at the speed that the filmmaker wanted me to drive at and a bus pulled across 6 lanes of traffic and I swerved to avoid it and I almost got into a serious car accident. So there is a lot to be said for chaos and there is a lot to be said for guerilla filmmaking but when you cross the lines into safety issues…I won’t go there.

Ah, Tim Robbins…such a big girl’s blouse for not wanting to die on a film set.

OK, so obviously, Samantha Morton can be difficult. I accept that. However, somehow she has continued to work steadily in spite of “her reputation.” Why? Because the lady always delivers the goods. May she remain in good health and continue to wow us for years to come.

Also: Morton will direct a film loosely based on her childhood in foster care. So says The Daily Mail.

In other news:

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (Othello) upset Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart to take the Best Actor prize at the Oliviers last night. Kristin Scott Thomas won Best Actress for The Seagull. (The Times)
  • Emma Watson is dating a “nobody” named Jay. Jay’s kinda hot. (The Sun)
  • Simon Cowell has purchased a $1.2 million Bugatti Veyron, which will be familiar to fans of Top Gear. (Daily Mail)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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