Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Sun, 9 October 2022 at 9:29 pm
Bill Nighy said the message of his latest film is to resist the urge to procrastinate and treat every day as though it is your last.
The Hollywood star, 72, plays a veteran civil servant in Living, which was written by novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro and adapted from the 1952 Japanese film Ikiru.
In the film, Nighy’s character Mr Williams receives a medical diagnosis that inspires him to move to the coast and make the most of his final days.
Arriving at the film’s UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, Nighy told the PA news agency: “Kazuo Ishiguro the incredibly famed novelist, it was his idea.
“I only met him at a dinner party and he said I know what your next film should be. I said when you’re ready let me know and it turned out to be this. Everything about it was attractive.
“He wrote the script, he is a wonderful writer and it was with Stephen Woolley who I’ve worked with three times now. He’s the great English film producer.
“It was a great part and a great script.
“I suppose the message is, resist the powerful tendency to procrastinate and grab every single day as if it’s your last.”
Nighy described working opposite Sex Education actress Aimee Lou Wood, who plays sunny colleague Margaret in the film, as “dreamy”.
“It was great working with Aimee Lou, she’s a laugh and she’s brilliant and she was absolutely exemplary in every way and fun,” he said.
Nighy said what appealed to him about the character Mr Williams was the fact he’s a “decent man trying to do the right thing” and enjoyed the “heroism” with getting on with things.
He added: “He’s institutionalised in grief, having lost his wife, and he’s put in an extreme situation where he has to kind of decide how to react.
“I’m very interested in what they always call Englishness, but actually I’m sure that they have characters like that in every culture.
“That sort of extreme restraint, whereby there’s a code of conduct which doesn’t allow you really to express anything in terms of deep emotion.
“And I find it funny and I find it very touching. It’s also completely bonkers and very bad for your psychology, but there’s something about the acting of it, it is quite fascinating because you have to sort of express quite a lot with not very much.”
English actress Wood, 27, described her experience working alongside Love Actually star Nighy.
“It was pretty amazing, especially the scene in the pub, we spent the whole day on it and it was basically a five-page monologue,” she said.
“It was just the most exceptional acting I’ve seen up close and it was a real ‘wow’ moment because I’ve always loved Bill from afar.
“He’s just the kindest man, but really that scene, I mean I did not get over it. I didn’t recover for a few days, I was just crying the whole time. It was amazing.”
Wood added that it was the underlying message of the story that drew her to become involved in the project.
She added: “Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and noticing the small things, and being present and actually seeing people rather than just looking at them, and letting people see you as well.
“I’m such an overthinker and I can spend a lot of time in my head.
“I operate from that place a lot, I can always be kind of one step ahead, but Margaret isn’t like that, she’s here, she’s in the moment, she’s just in her body and in her life, and takes it one day at a time and to be honest, that had such an impact on me.
“I really did start to feel a bit like her and I was noticing things and just being present more, rather than always in my head.”
Sir Kazuo said the remake of the Japanese film was one he “wanted to exist” and producer Woolley “persuaded” him to write the screenplay.
He told PA: “It’s exceeded my expectations and I’m really pleased to have a chance to be part of it.
“I think it’s quite an unusual message in a way because so many movies we see basically say you can turn your life around, even if it’s a fairly miserable or small life, by doing something fantastic, will cheer you and you’re going to become a huge star and you can do it, you can do it.
“This film has a rather interesting message to accept who you are, accept the small life you’ve got but within you can make it something that really matters to you.
“Even if nobody else gives you any credit it will mean a huge amount to you, and that’s what living is.
It’s quite an unusual message and that’s what really appealed to me about the original Japanese film.”
Living will be released on November 4.