For "Secret in Their Eyes," Chiwetel Ejiofor teams up with Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts — and takes on a unique acting challenge: playing the same character during two distinct periods of his life 13 years apart. And while a little gray in the temples helps, Ejiofor found some unique ways to distinguish the two versions of himself.
What was it about this character that really interested you?
I liked the idea of dealing with this character in two different time periods, thereby being able to reflect and engage with the obsessional qualities that he has. I'm sure it's a part of his character anyway, but these circumstances that he's in kind of highlight his propensity to become obsessed. It becomes a very interesting story about this guy's psychology, the demons at play within him. I was really excited about exploring all of those things.
That gap between the two periods is interesting. Did you do any work for yourself as far as what his life was like in between?
Yeah, I mean, building a sort of background for him and what his life was — his romantic life and his professional life — and just sort of filling in the gaps of that was really helpful. But the main event for him is that there's like a sound that he can't get rid of. I thought of it as almost literal, almost kind of something a ringing sound that he could never escape. He has the knowledge that the only way he'll ever get past or get through it is by finding the guy who did the thing. So the main thing for him in that time is that he cannot break free of this obsession, this need.
If you're imagining an actual ringing in your ears, does that drive you crazy by the end of the shoot?
(laughs) Yeah, I mean if it were to really manifest. But you know, yeah, it's obviously metaphorical but there's definitely a sense of that with him. And that's why I think when he starts to confront the guy, it just takes on its own quality.