Spall Hailed At Cannes For JMW Turner Role
Timothy Spall was the star of the second day of the Cannes Film Festival where his new film Mr Turner received rave reviews.
Spall brings the great British painter of stormy seas and fiery skies to life in the film directed by Mike Leigh.
"What made us the perfect match, apart from anything, is he was a funny-looking, fat little man, and so am I," said Spall. "But as far as his soul was concerned, that took a lot more research."
Mr Turner is in the running for Cannes' top award, the Palme d'Or, alongside 17 other films.
Leigh won the award in 1996 for Secrets & Lies, which co-starred Spall.
Both The Guardian and Time Out London gave the period drama a maximum five stars, calling it "extraordinary" and "a dazzling feat of confidence".
The director wanted to make a movie about JMW Turner for years, and focused his meticulously researched film on the last 25 years of Turner's life. The painter died in 1851.
Leigh said he was fascinated by "this very mortal and in some ways flawed" individual who was creating such epic works.
"He sees beyond the sea and the sky," the director said. "He makes us see an experience that goes beyond the surface."
Two years before beginning rehearsals, Leigh urged Spall to train his painting skills in preparation for the role.
For Spall, Turner was "a painter of the sublime" who instinctively saw "the beauty and the horror of nature," even if he appeared to be a humble working-class man.
More often than not in the film, Spall's Turner expresses himself with nothing more than a grunt.
"The grunting grew organically out of this incredibly instinctive, emotional, autodidactic, intellectual man who had a billion - a zillion - things to say but never said it," said Spall.
"People who sneeze and can redecorate the room have a wonderful time. People do that (grunting sound) are repressing something."
The Cannes Film Festival runs until May 25.
Related Stories Controversial Nicole Kidman Film Opens Cannes