SDCC ’08: A Brief Chat With ‘Underworld’ Star Bill Nighy

At last weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, B-D stringer BC caught up with Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans star Bill Nighy who chats about the difference between all three films and the application of make-up, which can be quite a task. Read on for the skinny. The prequel, which is directed by Patrick Tatopoulos, is set in the Dark Ages and traces the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires and their one-time werewolf slaves, the Lycans.
Being that Nighy has been around for all three UNDERWORLD films, he talks a bit about how the series has evolved and become so popular.

One of the most satisfying things that has ever happened to me was that I made a relatively small vampire movie, with a bunch of guys who never made a movie before and were true believers. They didn’t make a vampire movie because they were trying to get into movies and sort of forced into making one, they CHOSE to make a vampire/werewolf movie,” Nighy tells Bloody-Disgusting. com exclusively. “It’s their genre, they are true enthusiasts for the genre, and the script was a rocker! It was a serious, and yet kind of witty, take on the whole myth. And the fact that it went straight to Number 1 [at the box office] in America and now we’re on number 3, is deeply satisfying. I really like the guys, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride, Richard Wright… they’re great people, and we’ve had a lot of fun. And also, you know, it’s just funny, hissing at people and drinking blood – it’s funny! I like it when my work gets weird.

Bloody: Can you talk about the makeup a bit? Between this and Nighy also talks about the make-up job in the films – including his role in the PIRATES movies.

It’s not the likely career move! I don’t know how it happened, these things just happen. I don’t have my career mapped. I went into the vampire business because I was an enthusiast. I didn’t know what they were going to do to me on Underworld 1; I didn’t realize they were going to put me through a 6 hour makeup, which then took 2 hours to remove. They chip it off with stiff brushes and alcohol, like you’re peeling wallpaper or something. And your skin comes with it, so when you get into the shower you squeal. I didn’t know that was going to be the case, and had I known that I probably wouldn’t have even gone near it! It’s medieval and wrong. Fortunately, only in the first film was I supposed to have been dead for a thousand years and thus fleshless and without blood. That situation hasn’t been the same in 2 or 3. As for Pirates, the future it seems is computer generated, and thank GOD! That prosthetics hell is something I’ll never have to go through again. Pirates was a breeze compared to this, you walk around and look really stupid because you have white dots all over your face and wear gray computer pajamas with white fuzzy bubbles all over, which takes some wearing, gentlemen [gestures "below his belt"]. Especially when you’re standing next to Johnny Depp! So you know, you look stupid, but they run out of jokes after a couple weeks, and at least you don’t have to suffer the yards of latex.

One question is how UNDERWORLD 3 will be different from the other two films, being that this one is directed by Patrick Tatopoulos and not Len Wiseman.

Well, they both share similar traits. One is that they are endlessly courteous. Two is that they are incredibly good company. Three is that they are sharp on the story and the look, and perfectionists in all areas. Patrick has seamlessly slipped into the director’s role, and I’m not just saying this: if I had to work with Patrick for the rest of my life I would be very happy. I cannot say anything bad about him, he is exemplary. And he’s very sharp with the performances, working with the actors. I need a director; I’m not one of those actors who finds it problematic. I rely on the director telling me what the tone is and the tune of things. And he was brilliant at that. And Len was around, he produced the movie. He was on the set on occasion, and it was a good feeling. He passed it into a very safe pair of hands.

UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS arrives in theaters January 23, 2009.