A & E
circa 1997

A&E - Jane Eyre interview (long)

QUESTION: Uh, how did you feel about being offered the role? Rochester was one of the most romantic men of all fiction. How did you feel about being offered the role?

CIARAN HINDS: Well, I don't know if I was delighted or not... because when you're offered one of these parts and because they are very well-known from literature, then you have the responsibility of doing it. And, I thought, because I'm Irish, I wondered why they were offering an Irishman a job to play a quintessential sort of arrogant, chauvinistic Englishman. But obviously, I have some of that quality in me. (Laughs) No, because he's quite a complex character as well apart from that and somewhere inside his psyche his soul has been deeply hurt, but it manifests itself in different ways, like moodiness and different mood swings. Well, I thought, "Yeah, I'll give it a lash."

QUESTION: How difficult is it to bring this character to life?

CIARAN HINDS: Well, it's great when you're working with somebody like Sam Morton because she's full of life. So when you're actually working with somebody very closely, you work a lot off what they're offering up to you, especially as you're working very closely. And a lot of the things we have are quite wordy as well, and you're picking up anything that she's offering. And also because the character of Jane, which is often played quite reserved in the formal manner of a 19th Century governess, but ... behind it, she's got eyes of intelligence and fire, but it's couched in this veneer of what her job, her position is in the house.

QUESTION: In one of the scenes in the film, when you first meet her and you're on your horse, do you think that there's an instant love? There's sort of an attraction there, at least in the script. Tell me about that first encounter, first meeting.

CIARAN HINDS: Oh, yeah. His dramatic meeting where she actually comes out. In the book it's along a road, a lane, and it's icy and the horse slips in the book. But she comes out of the dark suddenly. That's what sort of scares the horse. But in this, we've done it across the river and there's a low-lying mist when suddenly she's there and the horse suddenly sees her and rears up and throws Rochester. And from that ... I mean, actually the idea of being thrown off your horse ... I mean, he's quite an accomplished horseman ... the idea of this young slip of a girl being responsible for it. He's never set on eyes on her before and she offers the information that she could get help from Thornfield, which is his, which he owns, so the instant he hears Thornfield, he wonders what she's doing there. And in fact by the end of the scene ... it's not that long a scene, but we cut a line that was going to say, "Give my regards to Mr. Rochester." We cut that rather than playing a game with her, but he knows that he's going to see her later basically and he will have the upper hand because she doesn't know that she's just met the master of the house. There's a scene later on when he says, "From the very first time I saw you, I knew you'd do me good," which is very hard to convey in just an instant meeting, but there's something about her quality immediately, that she stands up to him after that first meeting.

QUESTION: So you think there's kind of an instant love almost?

CIARAN HINDS: I don't know if it's love. It's an interest. It's a fascination, an instant fascination with her because he can see how strong and independent-minded she is rather than an acquiescent kind of traditional-playing person.

QUESTION: You play this ... the character is this gruff, robust person that is kind of soul searching, restless. What do you think he's looking for?

CIARAN HINDS: I don't think he quite knows himself because this marriage that he had, that he was tricked into without being told by the family that the woman that he married had a history of insanity, and indeed the family did, and he hasn't abandoned her, but he's taken her and he's hired doctors for her and all kinds of alternative methods of trying to ... and he brings her all the way from Jamaica back to England and keeps her in the room with somebody to look after her, but he's hurt and very, very angry, very, very angry that he's been tricked like this. But he also then traveled to Europe and had affairs, and then he'd fallen in love again and that's been thwarted. That's where Adele, the ward that he looks after, comes into the story. But the reason that he's prepared to commit bigamy, as he says, he's prepared to go to jail, only for the fact that he is suddenly deeply involved and in love with Jane, is to make her happy.

QUESTION: Why do you think this story is enduring? It's a classic love story. What are the elements in it, do you think, that keep coming back to the story, can be told again and again through time and space?

CIARAN HINDS: Well, I'll tell you, I think it's from Jane's point of view. The story is from Jane's point of view. It's her life. And her position of a governess, not expecting anything but to live, and she does that. She's been through a bad childhood herself, but she's very open and strong and intelligent to teach a child. And she hasn't any particular ambition herself. We don't know this from the story. She just suddenly found herself in the position that she's fascinated by this man, who indeed, she finds him also very bad-mannered, real arrogant, chauvinistic, and yet she's still fascinated by him and enjoys the spark and wit and banter that they have together.

QUESTION: Why do you think that is? You are a kind of borderline loon to her and you're arrogant. And yet she finds some qualities in you .

CIARAN HINDS: It's funny. People say to you, "What do people see in Mr. Rochester?" I wonder that, too. I genuinely wonder what people would see in a man like that, who's in that position and is not a charmer. He's by no means a charming, smooth-talking man. He's quite rough, really.

QUESTION: Yet in the end, he comes around and does the right thing. He tries to save Bertha, you know, from the fire.

CIARAN HINDS: Fire, yeah.

QUESTION: It's a redemption.

CIARAN HINDS: Yeah. That's exactly ... I mean, the idea of when she's gone. It's really when she leaves that they have that huge ... it doesn't matter about what people say or what we have is stronger than anything that is around us in this whole planet, this whole life around. What we have is the most important thing that could be in our lives. And while Jane may well believe that, she cannot return and believe that she could be in a position like that. She finds it hard to believe, and that's why the difference of age between them, like he's early 40s and she's 18-19, that he knows what real love is because he's been through it.

QUESTION: Do you think she can be a role model today?

CIARAN HINDS: That's a hard one. Given the confines that she's in and her position, I don't know. I mean, people find different role models. She has individuality, which is fantastic, and that she's not prepared to kowtow to anybody's idea of how she should behave, but she's not rude about it and she's not up front about it. She just quiet and is in command ... she's not in command of her heart, but nobody can be, which is quite interesting, but all the rest about her life, she is quite happily, it seems to me, in control of it when she's working at Thornfield.

QUESTION: When you finally decide to ask her to marry you ... it's raining. It's dark, it's raining, it's a thunderstorm.

CIARAN HINDS: Yeah.

QUESTION: Have you filmed that yet?

CIARAN HINDS: Yeah. That was by day two.

QUESTION: You kind of toyed with her for quite a bit. You were testing her out, seeing if she would, in fact, marry you. And you're not straight with her right away, but what do you think it finally took, you know, Rochester to get up and say, "You know what? I don't care what anyone thinks anymore. I'm going to do this because I've fallen completely in love with you." What do you think it took him to decide to do that?

CIARAN HINDS: I think it's because he's unsure of her feelings for him. He doesn't know what her feelings for him are and he has opened himself up a few times in his life. So he keeps on pushing a bit to see if he can get ... by dropping hints and using Blanche as a kind of jealousy pull to see would that make her come out of herself. He prompts her several times by playing games with her and he just can't get her to say what she feels for him so he's never sure where he stands with her and she with him. Though, really, you sort of know how they feel, but the one won't open up to the other. And I think ... she goes away. She has to go back to where she was brought up as a child, and I think at that stage, he plays a game with her about saying that he's found her another position in Ireland and that's fine, and it's from there that he says, "It's strange because we have this thing." He feels that they have this thing about like the story about the rope that's attached to him in here that seems to be attached to something in there, and he says to her. "Do you think that'll stretch all that way or will it just snap?" And she suddenly opens up and says, "I don't want to go. My heart is here." And when he sees ... I think that's about the first time he sees her ... how much she loves being (Inaudible), that from that, he gleans something, that she has a much richer and deeper feeling as in possibly (Inaudible). He says, "Well, the truth is I'm not talking about anybody else. I'm actually talking about you." I mean, it happens very quick in this story. It's because of the (Inaudible), but if you take the book, it would take a long time to read before you go, "What?" like that.

QUESTION: That was great. I'd like you to just continue on that thought and just ... I know the scene's not that long in the film, but if you could just say something, that it's a very romantic scene and it's a touching moment. You were ... it was right on. That was really great. I just want to capitalize on the film. And I know the book is longer, so talking about that scene and the romance of it and the love and you can almost feel the love all around. It leaps from the script. Both hearts are pounding and there probably won't be a dry eye on television. So let's talk a little bit about that scene a little longer. Both hearts are racing and you finally ask her to marry you. Can you just go in there a little bit about that?

CIARAN HINDS: It's interesting to me, because in the story there's a big chestnut tree ... you remember they're walking, they end up at this tree. When that moment finally breaks, when he talks about going to Ireland. He suddenly says, what I actually feel for you is beyond wit and banter and fun. It's located right here under the ribs, when she's talking about the heart. And this really touches it in a very descriptive, lyrical way. I mean, she picks up on that. And what's fantastic is that ... she sees it, but she still doesn't believe it because as far as she's concerned Blanche was the girl that he thought he was going to be married. And he says it's nothing to do with that. It is you. And once he gets into that, it's unstoppable. Because you say, I'm asking you now, will you be my wife? And she doesn't quite understand it because all the time she thought he was talking about this other ... Blanche his wife. And it happens very, very quickly. He just says just don't hesitate to say this. Don't even think about it. Tell me what you feel. Now. Will you tell me now that you'll be my wife? And there's this kiss actually that just is done with a kiss and in the scene it's sort of ... she doesn't answer to it. When he says will you, and it ends in an embrace and a kiss. And then I think, this shot we used after that is her asleep in bed. And it's just her sitting quietly alone in her room. But it's moments like that why people play around, that become huge when they involve the heart and the passion that sometimes leaps out of the script. And sometimes trying to keep a lid on it, sometimes as well.

QUESTION: Has it been physically demanding for you as an actor? The riding the horse, riding the carriages?

CIARAN HINDS: The carriages aren't a problem. Somebody else is driving them and you just sit in them. The horse is great fun. Because I only learned to ride just recently for another thing I did. I have a smaller horse, a Spanish style horse. And then suddenly, they brought on this big, huge English hunter, which is really ... you need help to get on it, it's so big. But we had fun using the river. And then galloping up hill. Which I've never done before. There's a method where you have to put your whole body weight forward because of the weight of the horse. So that was quite thrilling, actually. You think, like, oh here we go. And then it's quite thrilling. The other thing was the fire, which I hadn't really worked with at all when Bertha comes down and sets the bed alight, when he's asleep in it. And you think, oh that will look great. Then you realize you have to lie in the bed while they set fire to it around you. And pretend to be sleeping. (Laughs) And it's getting hot. And then pulling down all the drapes and stuff like that. But I mean, it seemed for a day, it was suddenly an action adventure picture, but it's not at all.

QUESTION: It takes place a lot inside during Thornfield and between the two characters.

CIARAN HINDS: Yeah.

QUESTION: Your character seems to be tormented constantly, you know, toying with Jane. There are scenes when they're very passionate. He wants to tell her. And then he stops short a little bit. And then he's kind of aloof and he's off. And he takes his weeks away. Do you think he's looking for love? Or what do you think he's looking for there?

CIARAN HINDS: Well, I think he thinks he's found it. Well, indeed, he has. Because the story resolves itself. Her commitment to him, suddenly she realizes it's beyond the mere fact of bigamy. It's beyond anything that he talked about. But real love is the inevitable pull that two people were at some stage made for each other to live their lives together. No matter how different they are. And she finally feels this pull back to him for no reason. He was going to propose the question, he does in fact ask her, if you had been in trouble some time before and you were still unable to resolve that, would you take that chance? And she doesn't answer it. And I think that's the reason why he doesn't tell her the true history of his life. That in fact he has been married to a woman who is very ill. And is being looked after. And he will not have her confined to an institution. And, I don't think there was divorce. But he will not just deny her existence. But is it possible that they could start a life together? He can't say that to her because of an answer she's given, he realizes that she won't somehow accept that. So he's afraid to push that further. For the fear of losing her completely. And I think that's why he begins to tell the white lie of, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter. This is what's the value and worth of my life. And somehow her life. Because he knows somehow he can make her happy. Because he can see in her when she's fiery, when she's alive.

QUESTION: What's it like working with Sam?

CIARAN HINDS: It's great. It's great. We're very different people. And, uh ... we have a laugh as well. Because it's something that is very intense. And sometimes you catch yourself in a ridiculous amount of furiousness and commitment. And a moment is broken. And it's great to have a release of mass hysteria.

QUESTION: When you're in the character, you kind of play that character. Do you think that you kind of fall in love, you have to fall in love with the person on set for a time to get really in the character?

CIARAN HINDS: I don't know. But I think you've got to be extraordinarily fond of them. I mean, I couldn't imagine trying to play scenes the way we have to do with somebody that you have a grudge against or resented or in some way disliked. Because somehow that comes through even though you believe you can act it.

QUESTION: Do you think that American audiences will identify with it? Do you think that it's going to be a good show?

CIARAN HINDS: In the end, it's like anything when you start with the intention of making something really terrific. And the finished product ... the fluidity and the editing and the story line through it ... when they have to stitch it very carefully all together and make the choices of cutting ... that's a hell of a job.

QUESTION: One more question. Why do you think women identify so much with Jane, the character of Jane?

CIARAN HINDS: I think her ... for want of a better word ... her quiet strength and her dignity. But it's not because she's plain, she's quite complex. But she doesn't allow herself to show off. She's not a show off. She just has a knowledge and education. And I think she has a freedom inside that. But it's not to worry about where exactly she is in the world comparatively to other things. She's just ... she is herself. And she's young yet and she's got a journey to go on. She just recognizes who she is. And how her feelings were. And she's not manipulative. I like her intelligence. And also these extraordinary feelings that she has that she can't quite grab a hold of or define. She just feels them. Because they're quite fresh to her.

QUESTION: Right. Yet she's known pretty much hate and greed and ... and all these terrible things throughout her life. And yet she's pure love. Where do you think that comes from? I mean, all around her, from birth on she's an orphan, and she goes to a terrible school and she knows really pretty much ... as opposed to love.

CIARAN HINDS: I suppose I mean the idea of her arriving ... her first job, when she comes out of the education system that she went to teach in that little school which she's brought up in. I mean, there was a Miss Temple who was quite a nice teacher to her. And then there was Brocklehurst. And it was a very oppressive kind of upbringing. But the idea of her going to Thornfield and for the first time going out into the world, not very far maybe but out, and within to feel the greeting from Mrs. Fairfax, the warmth, and just a feeling at peace suddenly in a big house. She didn't know, there could have been ogres and monsters there. But they just didn't happen to be there. There were secrets in the house, which she didn't know about. But she was just, I think, simply made to be felt warm and loved. And from that, she grew to love the place and the things that it held in store for her.

QUESTION: Do you think opposites attract?

CIARAN HINDS: Oh, they can. Yeah. But how long the battle goes on, I don't know. But yeah, I think, the different point of views is always very healthy.

QUESTION: I asked you if opposites attract. Do you think they attract? I mean, you two are kind of complete opposites, yet you have this ...

CIARAN HINDS: (Overlap) Yeah.

QUESTION: ... unbound love that comes out of nowhere. That's the beauty of love, I suppose.

CIARAN HINDS: Well, the difference between their ages is quite large. I mean, he's actually old enough, more than old enough, to be her father. And his values would be very different from Jane's values. They are very opposite. I mean, she has no arrogance about her. He has extraordinary arrogance. And what they have together though, there has to be a common factor somewhere in their polarity. Because they are very opposites, very male dominant running an entire outfit, doing what he pleases, disappearing off to Europe whenever he likes. Her rather quiet, getting on with life. But the thing that they have together is a ... oh, it's a wit and they simply have a sense of fun once they knew who they are, except the fun is not diluted, but it sort of gets transcended by suddenly the huge emotional pull they start feeling. So, whatever the opposites ... indeed, Jane feels at the beginning for him. Why did I like this man? He was arrogant, chauvinistic, bullying, rude. Why did I still like him? And that's what opposites are, aren't they? They're just the reason for it, you don't know. But the tickings of the heart, I don't know.