[Interviews] The Time Traveler’s Wife Theo James & Rose Leslie Talks About Acting With Multiple Henrys and What Advice Would They Give To Their Younger Selves

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HBO’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, the second adaption of Audrey Niffenegger best-selling novel of the same name, explores the love story of Henry and Clare in the 6-episode first season. Henry and Clare are your standard couple except one catch, Henry times travels. I talked to Theo James and Rose Leslie about acting alongside multiple Henrys and what age would they travel back to give guidance to their younger selves.

Henry is in a lot of the scenes at the same time at different ages. Theo, how was it like to play that? Rose, how was it like to interact with different versions of him when physically there is only one of him?

Theo James (Henry): It was tricky. One of the first scenes we shot was this big dinner sequence where there are two Henrys of different ages and there are all the other characters in the room at the same time. It was a dance in a way. There was an element of choreography and making sure you remember exactly what you were doing. I found it tricky because normally with a scene, you do what you want and it evolves; you feel what’s right. But the problem was with filming you didn’t want to trap yourself in certain corners. So if one day I was playing the older Henry and we would be doing part of the scene and perhaps older Henry would react in a certain way, but that meant I didn’t want to prescribe what the younger Henry was saying on the other side of it the next day if that makes sense. So it was complicated, but it was also kind of a joy because that scene is a bit of a farce play, so it was a great scene to start with. 

Rose Leslie (Clare): I would say being in the scene and having an easy time with it because I was sitting at a table and having a line here and there, it was a joy and kind of fascinating to watch Theo do his thing and know that when he’s playing the older version, there is a different aura about him, a different stance, and a different way of delivering the lines. And seeing that, not mimicked, but mirrored in the younger version but it is far more, throw-away and careless. It was the first time it ever happened to me, and I feel like I got away easy with being able to just observe, and it was very cool to see.

Henry can travel through time and talk to himself and give his younger self some advice and guidance. What age would you love to go back to give yourself some advice and guidance?

Rose: I would probably go to my teenage years. I was kind of riddled with self-doubt and insecurity and just thinking that this was going to be the way. I think I would go back then and kind of stroke her hair and let her know it’s all going to be okay.

Theo: I would love to back to university in a way. You know, when you’re young and dumb and you think it’s a chore to be learning every day. And now that I’m a bit older, I would love to do another degree in a way that I can. I probably never will. I would love to go back to that guy and say “enjoy this time. That’s all you have to do every day is just read and accrue knowledge. You’ll have that ever again, so enjoy it.”

Read my interview with show creator Steven Moffat and Director David Nutter here.

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