We met Mark Williams, AKA Mr Weasley, at the preview of Platform 9 3/4 at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
How does it feel to be back at 9 ¾ after wrapping up a few years ago?
Well, of course this isn’t actually 9 ¾, but this is a brilliant recreation. And the train itself is just as we used it. This is the locomotive and carriages you would have seen going over the viaduct in Scotland, and on one side of the platform you can see a mockup of the compartments, so you can go and sit in and really do the bit of travelling. So, I think it’s brilliantly done and it’s a great addition to the Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter Tour.
What’s the most important thing that you learned throughout your time working on Harry Potter?
Patience. Why patience?
*Laughter* It was a very long process. The instinct often when you’re an actor is to want to get on with it. There’s a lot adrenaline going on. Theatre’s about that, you know. And also filming can be like that; it can be a bit like “ACTION.” That was counterproductive really because we had to work on lots of things. We learnt to chill out… and then not chill out.
Was it a bit of a challenge when the kids were younger?
Do you remember at school, after lunch, when you used to get giggly and stuff, and then get tired? They used to do that. It was hilarious. Dan and Rupert after lunch everyday, the director would be there going *in an American accent* “Okay, come on, Dan, come on, let’s go, here we go, come on. That’s ACTION.” *bursts into laughter* “Come on, guys. Go again.”
Did you ever get the giggles with them?
No, I didn’t, actually. I mean, I have, I’m not immune to the giggles, I have to say. I mean, every now and again I like to be a bit 'dad'. Especially when we were filming during the World Cup, when they were all in their prime, and we were doing night shoots. And I said, “Come on, come on, guys. Everybody wants to go to bed.” And they’d go, "Oh, okay". I didn’t overdo it, but you know.
You’re on the television show Father Brown, where you get to know your character like you would in a franchise. I’m wondering if one is more high-pressure than the other, if you enjoy doing one more than the other…
Well, if you get a character right, it’s like a balloon; if it’s air tight, you can blow it up as big as you like. It’s not something you do differently, or I don’t anyway. They’re two fundamentally different ways of filming. One is a long and detailed process and one is much more like the theatre, although with cameras.
The pressure to do a big feature film is that you have got to keep focused and remember what you did what you did four months ago, sometimes literally a year ago on this. We’d split scenes for a year. And then on the other side, when you’re doing a daily turnover of about twelve pages, you have to be on top of the script. And so those are the two filming experiences, but they both involve long hours, so that’s the similarity.
I read that you were a bit of Harry Potter fan before you were cast?
I read two books and I increasingly thought that I knew what I’d do with Mr. Weasley.
I also read that you said that Arthur Weasley was, at least towards the end, the only functional father figure...
It wasn’t any kind of great breakthrough, we just realised that he was. The rest of them all died! Sirius was dead and Dumbledore was dead… He was the only one left.
Do you need any sort of preparation to be sort of the more, for lack of a better term, straight character…
Acting’s not really like that. That’s a sort of 'Hollywood' image of actors. It’s much more about being in the right frame of mind to perform what’s written, not inventing something separate. So it’s all there already. It was in the books, it’s in the script. If you’re trying to do something different, you’re doing the wrong job, really. It's all about connecting with your fellow cast members, with the crew, and therefore with the audience. So it’s much more like being in an orchestra, than being a hundred-league sprinter.
You are a train enthusiast, correct?
I mean, it’s engineering, really. I’m not a trainspotter, if you get what I mean. I’ve done documentary series about the industrial revolution and inevitably trains become part of that Venn Diagram.
Can you tell us a little bit about the steam train?
Well, this is a steam locomotive, which means that the coal heats the boiler which has got tubes running through it and that steam is superheated and drives a piston, or four in this case. And it goes forward and pulls carriages. *laughter* See, locomotive means it’s a pulling thing, which trains almost invariably have got motors underneath the wheels. It’s 65 tons, and the trailer weighs 43 tons. So it’s a great big piece of equipment and it was built in 1937, so it’s getting on a bit now. It’s having a bit of a rest. It would probably work again, but at the moment it’s here, which is a good place for it to be.
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