Whenever Tom Waits takes on an acting role, he can basically pick any famous director he wants. So it’s no wonder Waits has chosen films directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Jim Jarmusch, Terry Gilliam, and Robert Altman to show off his more than capable acting chops. This year, Waits has been getting rave reviews for his turn as Mr. Nick (aka Satan) in Terry Gilliam’s star-studded The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Heath Ledger’s final film). In a post on the film’s official site, Gilliam reveals how easy it was to get Waits to join the cast and Waits muses on how he got into character as the devil.
Gilliam says it all started when he passed a friend’s script on to Waits, adding, “He turned down my friend, but asked ‘have you got anything going for me?’ And I said ‘well, there is this interesting part in my new film…’ and that was it. Just like that. I said, ‘I’d got a part’ and he said ‘I’m in.’ Before he’d read the script.” Just like that, then.”
On how he got into character, Waits says he didn’t try to take on 2,000 years of history. “How do you play the devil?” Waits asks. “How do you play an archetype that large, that deep in history? I finally realized that I was just going to have to play it myself; it’s my devil. It’s the way I play the devil.”