Oliver Parker - Johnny English Reborn Interview
Oliver Parker - Johnny English Reborn Interview
Oliver Parker is an English director known for his work on The Importance of Being Earnest, Dorian Gray and the St. Trinian’s films. In a promotional visit to Australia for his new film Johnny English Reborn, starring Rowan Atkinson, Parker spoke to View New Zealand’s Tenani French to discuss working with Rowan Atkinson, the experience of shooting overseas and how to keep comedy genuine.
Where did the idea for the Johnny English sequel actually come from?

Oliver Parker

The idea arose before I came to the project, so I couldn’t tell you the answer to that. I think they were working on it for some time, as you know there are eight years between the two films, but the story didn’t really start to take this final shape until about two or three years ago. They went around the houses trying to nail it and I know Rowan was driving it quite hard too, to make sure it was moving forward and had a more international feel. Now we are having the benefit of more recent espionage stories like the Bourne movies and the reinvented Bond with Daniel Craig so in a way we were trying to reflect how times have changed.
Had you seen the first film before signing on to this one?

Oliver Parker

Yes I had but to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure where it was going to go because I had heard about it before I read this script. Then when I read (screenwriter) Hamish McColl’s work I thought he had done a really good job of taking it to another level. I suppose there was a degree of authenticity in the thiller, which I enjoyed, as a backbone to the comedy.
What was it like working with Rowan Atkinson?

Oliver Parker

It’s a great experience, the man is an absolute perfectionist in his approach and he has a very clear idea of what he wants to do. The three of us (Hamish, Rowan and I) worked on the script together for some months, we would rehearse it and then get down to shooting it. It would all be quite specifically discussed and arranged before you meet the camera. Then we would be trying to achieve not only what had been quite closely worked on but then we would be looking for alternatives to add to the pot. I don’t know if you’ve come across him but he’s the most polite of Englishman and an incredible gent to work with. It’s about creating a great environment where he feels confident to do his stuff.
Now we are having the benefit of more recent espionage stories like the Bourne movies and the reinvented Bond with Daniel Craig so in a way we were trying to reflect how times have changed.
Was there a lot of improvisation or was it mostly scripted?

Oliver Parker

Tends not to be improvising with Rowan, as I said there’s that process of quite specific polishing through script, rehearsal and shooting stages where I think he feels more comfortable when there’s absolute clarity in the intention. There were certainly a few times where I’d let the camera run instead of saying cut where you get some great little moments but as an approach to the work he’s much more comfortable, I think, nailing it.
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Content updated: 22/09/2019 04:18

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