Hugh Dancy Talks Adam - RT Interview

by | August 6, 2009 | Comments

RT Interview: Hugh Dancy on Adam

Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shooting Dogs, Ella Enchanted… If Hugh Dancy was in danger of being cast as the posh English heartthrob, his latest role has put paid to that.

In the offbeat comedy-drama Adam, the 34-year-old Brit plays a lonely New Yorker with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. Adam’s lack of social skills make his courtship of neighbour Beth (Rose Byrne) comically awkward, and their resulting relationship a testing one.

We caught up with Dancy at the film’s Edinburgh premiere – where fiancé Claire Danes was on his arm — to talk about playing the new Forrest Gump.



Did you know about Asperger Syndrome before you read the script for Adam?

Hugh Dancy: You know what, I don’t even know if I had. The most I could possibly have said is, “I think I have heard of that,” like most people. The script landed on my lap without any basic description. I read my way a third of the way in, to the point where Adam the character announces that he has this condition. At that point my interest was really piqued: the decision to hold off on that diagnosis in the movie was very unusual and much more interesting. So what I got out of the script was close to the enjoyment I hope people get out of it when they sit and watch it. People who know nothing about Asperger’s – they don’t feel like they’re watching a movie of the week. You’re not having an Asperger’s information video forced down your throat.

Did you immediately feel up to the job portraying someone so unusual?

HD: I realised it would be quite a challenge for me. When I went to meet Max Mayer, the writer and director, we talked through it all and he offered me a little bit of his knowledge of Asperger’s. I think if he’d really thrown the door wide open I would have totally freaked out and run a mile, but he gave me just enough, like a good director would, to make me hungry. I didn’t even occur to me as a glory project or something.

You mean like the old Oscars cliché about actors playing disabled characters in an attempt to win?

HD: [laughs] I realise it’s very easy to see this kind of movie in that light – I’ve now answered enough questions about the movie to know that! But fortunately, I think that the movie offers more than that.


Dancy with Rose Byrne in Adam.

What was the biggest challenge for you during filming?

HD: Because of the nature of Adam’s condition, it specifically denied me most of the things you rely on as an actor; communication, empathy and reaction. That quick, spontaneous reaction to somebody else in a room usually gets captured on camera, and that makes it feel real. But you can over-rely on those things to cover a slight lack of understanding of the scene that you’re playing, thinking, “It doesn’t matter because I can act it up, I’ll be really present if I haven’t really considered the ramifications.” Well I literally did not have that vocabulary available to me. I couldn’t really look into Rose’s eyes.

That really intrigued me because it’s the polar opposite of what you’re supposed to do as an actor, which is to emote wildly and be a human sponge.

How did you decide how to play the character? Did you meet people with Asperger’s, did you plan it with the director?

HD: Or did I just turn up on day one and hope for the best? [laughs]. Actually, all of the above. There was a lot of information that I had to absorb. I read a lot of different stories, talked to a lot of different people. But there is also a truth to the idea that you still turn up on day one and think, “What the hell’s going to happen here?” We only had 20 odd days to film this so the truth is I was in a state of constant shock from start to finish. It’s not like I spent hours in a rehearsal room with Max going, “Should I walk like this? Should I walk like that?”. The first scene we shot was the first scene of the movie and I remember turning round and walking from the grave of my father’s funeral and thinking, “Oh, it’s gonna be like this!”.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?

HD: I don’t hope, I know that they will take away a sense that it has spoken to them, even if they have never met anyone with Asperger’s. They will recognise the very human story of one individual, any of us, trying to properly make contact with another one. That’s what I think is at the heart of this film.

Adam is out in the UK on August 7th.

Tag Cloud

TBS ABC Family Christmas Star Trek TV Land Pirates Oscars Cartoon Network science fiction Podcast boxoffice Thanksgiving period drama First Look Reality Competition Certified Fresh Sundance Photos 21st Century Fox Calendar TIFF GoT Freeform ITV Marvel Logo Starz Marathons President Box Office Musicals Super Bowl The CW Netflix Universal Extras war harry potter PBS Schedule WGN 24 frames biography Opinion Food Network SundanceTV Rock 2017 Animation based on movie GLAAD CMT LGBTQ zombie Year in Review binge dc DC Comics APB Star Wars TV TLC adventure Teen Comedy Lifetime Showtime Ellie Kemper Red Carpet Reality Grammys Comedy Central TNT Valentine's Day NYCC GIFs PaleyFest Spring TV Set visit dramedy 2015 Kids & Family 45 vampires RT History transformers AMC USA Network politics CBS talk show Ghostbusters Pop FOX Fox News HBO crime Biopics Premiere Dates TCA romance DC Universe Tumblr Nickelodeon Toys social media cops TruTV police drama Country supernatural American Society of Cinematographers diversity BBC America Watching Series 2016 ABC Disney Channel Rocky Esquire Winners Fall TV technology The Arrangement A&E Nat Geo VICE Nominations historical drama Emmys sports Mindy Kaling ratings El Rey crime thriller Summer Tomatazos YA Musical Amazon aliens Superheroes Western MTV Winter TV CBS All Access Horror Fantasy BET Lionsgate cinemax Drama X-Men History BBC FXX Adult Swim Infographic thriller what to watch Cosplay FX Polls and Games political drama Interview Warner Bros. See It Skip It Syfy NBC Trivia Writers Guild of America Martial Arts Mystery Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Music Comic Book discovery serial killer TCM sitcom Crackle justice league IFC Disney dceu Creative Arts Emmys MSNBC Awards USA docudrama Best and Worst CNN Election Countdown 007 Spike composers golden globes Video Games Sci-Fi Hulu Mary Tyler Moore Rom-Com Paramount DirecTV VH1 E! comiccon Character Guide spy thriller Action Trailer cooking Masterpiece SDCC cats ESPN crime drama E3 psycho TCA 2017 Sneak Peek Bravo Dark Horse Comics singing competition Holidays travel OWN medical drama