Working with a legendary filmmaker like Woody Allen has gotten attention for many hard-working actors who may have previously gone unrecognized, but when Allen’s latest film Midnight in Paris debuted in May, one of the questions on many lips was “Who is that guy playing Ernest Hemingway?” “That guy” is a veteran theater actor named Corey Stoll, a New York native who has spent most of the last seven years taking odd roles on television shows and small roles in movies, but who had been getting more attention for his work on stage in a number of well-received plays.
Although Allen’s film mainly takes place in modern-day Paris, it involves a time travel element that has the film’s protagonist, a screenwriter named Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson, traveling back to what he considers the city’s heyday in the ’20s where he meets the likes of Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and other luminaries from the literary and art world. Despite having another great ensemble cast that’s become Allen’s trademark, Stoll’s portrayal of Hemingway is what has instantly grabbed people’s attention as the movie quickly became a summer sleeper hit, as well Allen’s most successful film at the box office.
ComingSoon.net sat down with Stoll earlier this week and had an interesting extended conversation about his seemingly sudden rise to attention. Less than 24 hours after we spoke, Stoll was announced as one of the nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards in the supporting actor category, but even before that, he had scored a number of exciting projects including an undisclosed role in Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy, which is likely to be one of the biggest movies of next summer.
Before we get into the interview, here’s what Stoll had to say about his work in the “Bourne” reboot, which he finished shooting. He told us he has no scenes with the new “Bourne” Jeremy Renner, even though they appeared together before, first in Niki Caro’s North Country and then Stoll appeared on Renner’s short-lived television show “The Unusuals.”
“I haven’t seen anything but when I heard about it and when I heard the way they’re going to do it–and I can’t really go into it–but I think he’s going to be awesome,” he said about the film’s star. “I think it’s going to be a really good movie.”
He also told us about how it allowed him to tap into his theater background:
“In fact, the part of the movie I’m in, there’s this ensemble where he got these great theater actors–people who’ve done a lot of movies, too–but it was shot here and it felt like old home week. He really loves his actors and the level of acting chops that he’s got even in the tiniest roles in this movie is pretty impressive,” he said.
In the video interview below, we talk with the actor about:
* How he was approached about the role
* Keeping the time travel aspect of the film a secret
* Shooting in Paris
* How Woody Allen works
* Getting into the head to play Hemingway
* Whether he considers himself a character actor
* Talking about working with Tony Gilroy on the new “Bourne” (he has no scenes with Jeremy Renner apparently)
* A little about the indie “Decoding Annie Parker”
* We share our love for David Cronenberg (Stoll presented a tribute to the filmmaker at the Gotham Awards later that night)
* Why he thinks “Midnight in Paris” has connected so well with moviegoers
And Lots More!
Midnight in Paris is out on DVD and Blu-ray on December 20, but before that, it’s just been announced that Stoll will be participating in a forum called “Hemingway’s Letters: From Childhood to Paris” at Boston’s John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on December 11.