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You know to an extent Method acting feels occasionally lazy. That’s the difference, and that was the thing with the waterboarding.I was in a stress position today before we worked, which enabled me to play the scene [we were doing] without having to do any acting. I wanted to experience it for a millisecond so that I could know exactly what it felt like.” For all its physical extremities, though, it’s a very different role to the tough guys that Armitage has expressed a desire to escape from.“It has lines that feel relevant in 1692, relevant in the Fifties, relevant today and relevant tomorrow, in 10 years, in 20 years, while we’re still destroying each other in the way that we do, in that insidious human way.” He promises that acclaimed director Yael Farber’s production will be a full-blooded affair.“You can’t play this story without addressing sexuality in this particular society in this time, the masculinity of the men, the femininity of the women, the vulnerability of prepubescent girls.“It fills me with dismay sometimes when you look at the scripts that do come to you, that are primarily focused on violence.There are so many other things to play around with.” His career, he says, has been “a slow climb. He joined a circus in Budapest straight out of his school in Coventry – he grew up in the Midlands - to get his equity card.“Having a box office figure next to your name is unbelievably important when it comes to certain castings.But I don’t think it would have made a difference coming to the Crucible.” And after 13 years of concentrating on film and television, returning to the stage is a very big deal for him.
The Crucible is an unfolding nightmare of accusatory spite that is seen as an allegory of the anti-Communist witch trials in Hollywood in the 1950s.
“It’s a big mountain to climb every night,” he says.
“There’s a shattering of the character, and almost a reassembling of him towards the end.
Can it escape that allegory and find another, I ask him.
“It’s ultimately a timeless play, I think,” says Armitage.