Opening in theaters on December 23rd is the new drama ‘Living,’ which was directed by Oliver Hermanus (‘Beauty’) and is adapted from the 1952 Japanese film ‘Ikiru’ directed by Akira Kurosawa.

Set in 1950s London, ‘Living’ stars Bill Nighy ('Love Actually’) as Mr. Williams, an ordinary civil servant who after receiving a grim diagnosis decides to make the most of his final days with the help of a former colleague named Margaret Harris (Aimee Lou Wood).

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood about their work on ‘Living,’ their approach to their roles, and the sweet relationship between their characters.

Bill Nighy stars in director Oliver Hermanus' 'Living.'

Bill Nighy stars in director Oliver Hermanus' 'Living.'

You can read our full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interviews with Nighy, Wood, and director Oliver Hermanus.

Moviefone: To begin with, Bill, can you talk about your approach to playing Mr. Williams, and what were some of the aspects of the character that you were excited to explore with this film?

Bill Nighy: I was excited to explore that kind of character from my childhood because I was there. I was a small boy during the fifties. The atmosphere of that period and the way that people conducted themselves, I grew up into that. That post-war era and the kind of reticence that was required of people, the reluctance to express anything big and not to trouble one another with your innermost concerns.

It was a kind of religion, and it's probably very unhealthy. I understand in terms of repression and suppression, but it's also kind of heroic in its way. I was drawn to, as an acting thing, it's fun to try and express quite a lot with not very much. I'm interested in that. It's usually called Englishness, but I'm sure there's characters like Mr. Williams in every culture. But we take the blame for it.

I just think I'm just really fascinated by that formality, even under great stress, and also procrastination because he spent his life working in an institution designed to facilitate procrastination. I personally procrastinate at an Olympic level. There's nothing I can't put off, and I can put it off for as long as you want. When I die, there will be a long list of things I never quite got round to. I'm interested how that personal tendency is expressed in a society because we're all, my hope it's not just me, I think everyone has struggles with that tendency.

Aimee Lou Wood stars in director Oliver Hermanus' 'Living.'

Aimee Lou Wood stars in director Oliver Hermanus' 'Living.'

MF: Finally, Aimee, can you talk about Margaret’s reaction when she sees her former boss outside of the office and in the real world, and the friendship that they form together that really inspires him to live his life to the fullest?

Aimee Lou Wood: Well, you know when you were younger and you saw your teacher out, and you go, "What?" Because there are certain people that, in your head, they only exist within that specific space. I think Margaret has that with Mr. Williams because he's quite a closed book at the start of the film. So, they've been in each other's presence for, I think, 16 months, but they have not connected.

I think when she sees him out, it's shocking that he even exists beyond those walls. But then the fact that he has this new hat on, there's something different about him. That's how I knew who Margaret was. The minute that line that (screenwriter) Kazuo Ishiguro wrote about, "Oh, and your new hat," I was like, "Oh, okay. I get who she is." That she notices all these things, and she can see that there's something different about him, just by the fact that he has this new hat.

All of a sudden she can see him in this completely new way. That's also because he's seeing life in a completely new way. He's trying to see things and notice things again, after years of being an autopilot. I think she's quite taken aback by how seen she feels by him when they've been sat near each other for 16 months and she's never felt that until that day. I think it's just this really surprising, incredible connection that they have.

It's almost sad because you think, they could have had that 16 months ago. They could have had it from the moment that they met if they just had a different perspective. It's Mr. Williams' newfound desire to live that brings them together.

Bill Nighy stars in director Oliver Hermanus' 'Living.'

Bill Nighy stars in director Oliver Hermanus' 'Living.'


"It's never too late to start."
PG-131 hr 42 minNov 4th, 2022
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