What drew you to the material, especially given that the novel already had been brought to the screen in an acclaimed miniseries?
It was the book itself, of course. And also I remember the miniseries, when I must have been 10, 11-years old, seeing it. I didn’t understand
much of it, but it was a very intriguing and interesting world to watch. It was also the people that wanted to do it with me, the production company
and Mr. le Carré himself.
What about the draw of making a quiet, subtle spy thriller?
I don’t consider this a spy thriller, really. It’s much more about the victims of the Cold War and the sacrifices they made. That was what
interested me the most — to actually try to understand what they suffered, these people. For instance, there was a very gripping detail John le
Carré described for me: Some of the spies were decorated by the Queen. She would put a medal on their chests and ten minutes afterwards someone
would take it away and hide it in a cupboard. I thought that was so, so touching and cruel, and really interesting, what they had to carry.
There is a lot of interesting stuff to explore in silence. If I would, for instance, ask you a question and you don’t answer me, that is also an
answer. Silence between people is a very useful cinematic element.
What would you say to the possibility that some audience members might expect something more conventional and leave the film feeling perplexed?
A lot of people involved in the making of films are obsessed with clarity. I think it’s much more interesting to invite the audience to be an
active partner in creating the experience. I really love the idea of trusting the audience to look upon them as adults that can have ideas themselves
of what’s happening.
It is a demanding film. I want it to be demanding.
And it’s quite true to the book as well. If you compare, there are so many films that decide for you what to feel and what to think and what you
see. Film can be very decisive for you, but I believe that the more open you get the more the viewer can participate. But it’s not an easy film
to watch. We haven’t promised anything else.
Smiley is a tough part to cast for a lot of reasons. What led you to Gary Oldman?
It was very hard to come up with the right idea of who to play Smiley. We struggled with it for six months or something. We almost said,
“Let’s not do this. We can’t find the right one to do it.” And Jina Jay, the casting director, came up with this idea and I
thought it was a brilliant one, to ask Gary for it.
He is like a chameleon. He has done so many and so different kinds of portraits in his career. It would take a lot of courage to stand in front of the
camera and have so much screen time without saying so much. And he really knows how to express himself with subtle moves and using his body language to