But let’s be honest: Prince of Persia is based on a video game. It’s a mega-budget, effects-heavy tale about a street urchin-turned-prince, Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), who finds a mysterious dagger that can turn back time. Its producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, is a spectacle-meister whose films are not usually lauded for their delicate subtlety.
Sir Ben, from the minute (earlier in the article) that she calls his acting “scenery-chewing”, disagrees:
“I do the same job. The background alters, and where the camera is placed, and the effects around me. But I am doing the same job. I serve Nizam as if Nizam was written by Shakespeare and he was called Richard III.
“Why waste my time trivializing a character or a film?” he continued, now fully engaged, his voice smooth and mellifluous. “If I trivialize it, it’s going to spoil three, four, five months of my life. Instead, I consciously think to myself, ‘Aim high, aim very high with Nizam. If the kids are going to come and watch it, let them see Richard III from Shakespeare. That will make them go, ‘Wow.’ Don’t give them a Punch and Judy show villain.”
I see both points. I don’t think, even if all the planets aligned just right, that any kid is going to walk out of Prince of Persia with visions of Shakespeare dancing in their heads. But like he says, why waste your time trivializing the character? There are certainly actors out there in the biz that just phone it in for the paycheck. Sir Ben doesn’t appear to be one of them, regardless of what roles he takes.