He’s about to play Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s new film, but has an intrepid mind of his own.
I learned to read in Spanish and English as we moved to Argentina when I was young. I had a leather-bound copy of Martín Fierro, a classic verse account of the life of a gaucho. For A Dangerous Method, I read everything I could: Freud’s writings, but also satellite works. Stefan Zweig wrote a great book about the period in which Freud grew up in Vienna called The World of Yesterday.
Right now, I’m doing this play in Spanish by Ariel Dorfman called Purgatorio. The characters are initially based on Jason and Medea
— who killed her children in revenge for him leaving her for another woman — so I re-read some of the Greek tragedies. The last time I did a play was 24 years ago. So there’s extra terror.
When I was 11 my parents split up and I moved to where my mother was from, the United States. I was shocked that the cartoons I’d seen on television were actually American: hearing them dubbed I’d had no idea. TV is different now, there’s a different quality to The Wire, Deadwood or In Treatment. More so than in the Seventies.
I’ve had a publishing company, Perceval Press, for about 10 years now. We have a new collection by a Russian poet called Georgy Ivanov. He’s little-known among English readers but he is a pretty key figure in 20th-century Russian-language poetry — a controversial figure, too, in a lot of ways, and an unhappy person.
As a teenager, I was upfront about the fact I liked David
Bowie. The first records I got were Diamond Dogs and Ziggy Stardust and then I started finding some of the old 45s. I was a closet fan of The Carpenters. I loved the way Karen Carpenter sang. Her songs are so sappy, but she had an amazing voice — and a tormented life, as it turns out.
I like to go and see silly movies sometimes. I’ve seen Happy Gilmore 20-something times. I see Elf every Christmas. Some of my earliest recollections are from going to movies with my mother: Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ben-Hur. She loved them. I did a movie called Hidalgo in 2004, which Omar Sharif was also in. I invited my mother to the premiere and she got to meet him. He kissed her hand and she was done.
A Dangerous Method is out on 10 February