Rebecca Hall: Exploring the gray areas in Closed Circuit
In the new thriller Closed Circuit, Rebecca Hall plays Claudia Simmons-Hall, a “Special Advocate” assigned a particularly sensitive case regarding a terrorist suspect. The actress recently spoke to a roundtable of reporters about the challenges of the role.
Do you ever worry that you’ll never have another role as expansive and as complicated as this one?
I worry about it! And I take it as a given that I probably won’t because that character was a rare combination of a great piece of fictional writing and the dramatic mind of Tom Stoppard. I mean, that’s not gonna happen again, so I take it as a given that I probably won’t find another gem like that. But there will be other gems that will be different.
What did you find unique in doing this film that made you so passionate?
I read the script and I thought, first off, this is a great story. I loved the flavor that it had of those conspiracy films that were made here in the ‘70s and I thought, “No one’s ever done that in London. No one’s made a paranoia thriller set in London and it’s a very right place for it.” And then, lastly and principally, was how relevant I thought it was. It’s dealing with closed courts proceedings which are going on and a complicated notion that people don’t really understand. If we believe in something such as fair justice and the rule of law—which in Britain we do and we’re meant to—then, how do we tie that up with the notion that somebody could be accused of something and not know what they’re accused of? It’s not a fair trial and there’s a double standard there that’s complicated and needs to be discussed. And then, of course, there’s the notion of government spying and closed-circuit cameras and is it all okay that we think it’s enough to say, “I haven’t got anything to hide so it’s fine for the government to look at everything in my life!”
Did it help that director John Crowley was also a theater director? Were there insights you shared?
Yeah, it did. I don’t think that you suddenly have magic insights because you’ve done theater but . . . I think that a good director tests the text in that way and finds solutions that aren’t obvious. Often film directors don’t have that discipline and will reach for a rewrite that makes it obvious and accessible rather than look for the solutions that the text might throw up if you work with it and bend it and forced it. I think that’s something that [Crowley] did with this. He got us all together in a room for two weeks and forced us to look at the texts. Instead of saying, “Well, that doesn’t work so let’s chuck it out and get something new.” He was about, “How can we make this work?” And that’s how you come up with original solutions.
What drew you to the film?
It’s good fun to play someone who is morally righteous and compromised at the same time. There’s an interesting tension there. And frankly, there’s something really appealing about playing characters who are quite defined by what they do in the sense that barrister tend to be.
How as it making a movie when nobody’s clearly a good guy?
Brilliant. I love that. I love films where there are so many gray areas and there’s no redemption; that’s fabulous to me.