November 7, 2019:
The cast of Betrayal Broadway made a previously unannounced appearance at AOL Build.
Here are some of the highlights: (PS: I feel like what they talk about here is exactly the same way I interpreted the play in my Betrayal Broadway review.)
(7:45) Tom is asked about the minimal production. "There's a profundity and a simplicity to Pinter's writing which we feel we have to meet. That's - for me - when acting's most exciting. The play deals with some very deep pain. The experience of human pain. And Pinter's able to make you feel that pain - to feel it's sadness, to feel the loss, to feel the grief, to feel the cruelty but also in moments to find it absurd and funny. There's humor in it too. And he's so economical with language. It seems naturalistic, it seems every day but it's almost poetry. And so the challenge for us as actors is to match with the same level of simplicity. Trying to excavate something deep and something profound about the experience of being alive. And to do it in a very clean, economical way. We've loved it. It's been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."
(9:15) Charlie is asked about the meaning behind Pause and piece of writing. "You have make decisions about what the Pauses and Silences mean in the same way you have to make decisions about what you mean when you say the actual words. That's also very exciting. We had lots of conversations about about the differences between Pauses and Silences... The boring answer is the Silence is longer. One thing I read in Michael Billington's biography of Harold Pinter was that Harold had told him once that 'when you Pause it's either because you were going to say something and you decided not to or you thought the other character was going to say something and they didn't. The difference between a Silence is at the end of the Silence one or both of you are changed forever.' I guess there's a death to a Silence or there's an underlying revelation or pain to a Silence that a Pause doesn't quite have."
(15:53) Tom talking about Pinter's portrayal of women. "It's a curious thing I think Pinter is genuinely interested in is how power is negotiated between men and women. And who survives. Of course on the surface it seems like my character Robert and Charlie's character Jerry are competing for power but actually it's Emma who I think survives. He has a rift in the middle of the play about the vulnerability of boy babies versus girl babies, and Robert and Jerry are debating boy babies cry more than girl babies. Don't they? And why do they? In fact it's a theme through many of Pinter's plays that there is a hidden fragility and vulnerability in men which is unique to them. A woman will prevail and succeed where a man will invariably fail... Emma has got some strength that Robert and Jerry don't possess... There is a kind of tension between the external and the internal. Robert is a successful publisher, he presents himself as charismatic and confident and in control. He's shattered by the loss of his marriage. Shattered by the loss of his friendship with his oldest friend. You see the cost of having to shut all that pain away. I think he becomes kind of cynical and shut down. He seems alright on the surface but I don't think he is ultimately. That's one of the many betrayals is the betrayal of himself. I think having to keep a lid on his vulnerability only renders him more alone in the end."
(19:11) Charlie on how Betrayal is a play about an affair that's not really about an affair. "I think it's about the end of an affair. I think it's also about the end of a friendship as well. What I've personally enjoyed the most about the dynamic that we found, us three, is that we feel like the end of the friendship is as painful as the end of the affair. And that these three characters kind of love each other equally. Tom, in rehearsals, would talk a lot about the co-dependencies of these relationships. Meaning that the marriage can really only survive when the friendship is in place and equally the affair can only survive when the marriage is in place etc etc. The first week and a half we rehearsed the play chronologically, in time order... it was revealing' to see how you transition from each moment and think about how much time has passed between scenes."
(21:25) Tom added: "...The plot is revealed within the first ten minutes. There's very little that's revealed in terms of story so he lines up the dominoes for the audience very quickly. It's not knowing that they're going to fall - the audience knows that as the clock goes backwards - the excitement or the interest is watching how they fall... The situation is almost unthinkable in terms of it's painfulness. A man and a woman are married, and she has been having an affair with his best friend, who was best man at their wedding, for seven years. The man he most trusted, the man who carries the rings at the wedding, is the man who has betrayed him."
(24:02) Tom on why Robert allows the affair to continue. "It's a way of managing his pain... The reason people don't speak in some of these scenes is because the next thing they say might save or destroy the relationship. And these relationships really matter because there are children involved, there are homes involved, and there are careers involved. Robert and Jerry are in the same business. They're both in publishing. Robert's a publisher. Jerry's a literary agent. And they have the same client. The same very, very successful novelist and writers that they represent. Who pay the bills. So if Robert and Jerry have a huge falling out then it means a lot for their lives, it means a lot for their homes, it means a lot for their ability to pay for their families. I think that their whole lives are intertwined in a very complex way. So Robert not revealing that he knows about the affair is somehow able to swallow it. I think it's difficult. But then knows he can punish Jerry with it later."
(27:25) Talking about the Waiter scene. Charlie: "It's funny because it's painful. That's what I think is brilliant about (Pinter) is that he recognizes that in great tragedy is comes great humor." Tom: "It comes from his construction which is that the audience at that point know that Robert knows about the affair. So the expectations of the audience are they're having that and that Robert will confront Jerry. 'I know that you've been having an affair with my wife'. And he doesn't. So he has to sublimate all that anger and all that sense of retaliatory vengeance. And he doesn't say it. So it takes it out on the poor waiter who's just trying to serve them lunch. He gets angry at the waiter for being slow, for not bringing the wine the right way, for not bringing lunch fast enough. He gets angry with food itself... but doesn't name the elephant in the room. So, the dramatic irony of the audience knowing this truth is not being spoken and it's being redirected at other targets I think is what makes it funny.
(34:45) Charlie talking about the lack of set or props. "Paradoxically the lack of furniture feels very claustrophobic. I think it's because if you're in an uncomfortable conversation, if you're feeling uncomfortable feelings it's very human to enter avoidance of them by moving insignificantly. By moving from a couch to a coffee table, by picking up a magazine, pour yourself a drink. There's many things you can do to display or avoid really uncomfortable feelings and appear to be fine about it. We don't have that. So when these moments rise in our play, these avoidance that we have is so transparent and that's what I think makes the production so uncomfortable at times for people is because it's so evident."
This is Tom Hiddleston's fourth appearance on AOL Build. He previously was on the web series in 2015 with the cast of Crimson Peak, in 2016 with the cast of High-Rise and in 2017 with the cast of Kong: Skull Island.
After the Build Series, the cast sat down with Alex Berg on Buzzfeed's AM2DM. I will post more from this interview when it is available.
White at SiriusXM, Tom caught up with his old friend DJ Whoo Kid.
DJ Whoo Kid