Our ten favourite film interviews of 2014

A selection of our best interviews this year, which included Daniel Radcliffe in a gas mask, John Cusack calling Hollywood a ‘whorehouse’ and the re-emergence of forgotten indie star Thora Birch

Thora Birch
Thora Birch: ‘I wouldn’t wear the frilly bows. I just didn’t take advice.’ Photograph: Ann Johansson/Hlcarpenter.com

Thora Birch by Hadley Freeman

On the surface Thora Birch (American Beauty, Ghost World) was the indie star who simply burned out. In fact, she’s been working since her heydey, plugging on with TV movies and stage shows to critical indifference. She was too angry and too smart for Hollywood, she says. Hadley Freeman found her skittish, unpredictable company: a victim of “bad luck, bad timing and a bad reputation”.

“She has the dazed but anxious air of someone who has just emerged from a long sleep and is astonished at how much time has passed”

Bill Murray by Catherine Shoard

Bath time? ... Bill Murray
Bath time? ... Bill Murray Photograph: Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Inivision/AP

Behind the icon lies - unsurprisingly - a fairly normal man. Catherine Shoard waded through the rabid fandom of the Toronto film festival’s “Bill Murray Day” to meet Mr Caddyshack himself. He has strong feelings about Ralph Nader and seatbelts.

“We’re shown to a room and I help him read the Coke bottle label (he only drinks Mexican, on account of the corn syrup). We inspect the facilities. He suggests we take a bath or watch a DVD. Four hardboiled eggs and some fried potatoes are ushered in. He doesn’t touch them.”

Julianne Moore by Xan Brooks

Hollywood insider ... Julianne Moore
Hollywood insider ... Julianne Moore Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Where better to talk about phony old Hollywood then the Cannes film festival, the dream machine’s Riviera pop-up shop? Julianne Moore, star of David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, talked to Xan Brooks about fame, loneliness and the death of her regular co-star, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

“I do remember when I was starting acting, going from one set to the next, with not much else going on in my life,” she says. “And at the end of the day you get back to your hotel room and just feel this awful loneliness, because the cameras have stopped rolling. If you ever want to have an existential moment, that’s the time. You sit there and think, ‘Who am I?’.”

Christopher Doyle by Alex Godfrey

Cinematographer Christopher Doyle
Cinematography’s Keith Richards ... Christopher Doyle Photograph: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images Europe

“The Keith Richards of the film world” ranted, shouted, raved and hollered at Alex Godfrey for a full hour from Hong Kong via Skype. The legendary cinematographer who swore at Scorsese and called Life of Pi’s Oscar “a fucking insult” was forthright, entertaining and very, very rude. He was promoting Sebastian Silva’s Magic Magic. The plug got lost in the storm.

“I’m fucking pissed off that [Charles] Bukowski stopped drinking when he was 76,” he says. “If you’re gonna be a legend in your own Y-fronts, you better fill your Y-fronts with bottles of beer.”

Daniel Radcliffe by Tim Jonze

make some interesting choices and see where that takes you' … Daniel Radcliffe
‘I thought, you might as well be bold now, make some interesting choices and see where that takes you’ … Daniel Radcliffe. Photograph: QMI Agency/REX

A pretend interview preceded Tim Jonze’s real one. A TV crew following Daniel Radcliffe wanted Tim to “meet” him for the cameras. The meta-logic makes sense in the ex-Harry Potter’s world, where the cameras are always on and privacy is a problem. That’s why Radcliffe went to the Reading festival in a gas mask ...

“There seems something slightly sad about having to go to a music festival dressed as if you were heading to the western front. Does Radcliffe worry that he missed out on a normal teenagedom? He sighs. “I mean, maybe? I don’t know. I still got to go to Reading. I still had a great time. It’s one of those things that everyone wants to tell me I missed out on ... but I wouldn’t know, I’ve only lived my life this way.”

John Cusack by Henry Barnes

John Cusack …
‘Hollywood’s a whorehouse’ ... John Cusack Photograph: Karen Robinson

Maps to the Stars is David Cronenberg’s Hollywood body-slam. It rages against the industry’s obsession with youth, it’s treatment of women and our willingness to let this shabbiness continue. Henry Barnes asked it’s star, John Cusack, how much of it was real. All of it, he said.

“I have actress friends who are being put out to pasture at 29,” he says. “They just want to open up another can of hot 22. It’s becoming almost like kiddie porn. It’s fucking weird.”

John Sessions by Stephen Moss

John Sessions
Shaggy dog story ... John Sessions Photograph: Martin Godwin

The improv pioneer behind Stella Street was struck by stage fright after the death of his mother. He left the theatre behind and could be seen this year as the larger-than-life villian of Pudsey: The Movie. He told Stephen Moss about living with depression and finding his feet again, even if they’re next to a talking dog ...

“Far more distinguished actors than I have done children’s films and then returned to putting on the tights and crown,” he says. But playing second fiddle to a dog? “If that’s the worst that happens to me,” he says, “I’ll be very lucky.”

Keira Knightley by Xan Brooks

Keira Knightley shot for the Observer Magazine.
Behind the mask ... Keira Knightley Photograph: Nadav Kander for the Observer

People hate Keira Knightley and she’s not sure why. Xan Brooks found her forgetful, flustered fun as they attempted to explain the hostility she provokes. For his money she’s simply waiting for the right project to come along. Unfortunately, Begin Again - a soggy indie rom-com that sets her up as a folky singer-songwriter - wasn’t it.

“It’s terrible. I know nothing about music whatsoever,” she says. “I mean, I could probably bullshit you and come up with an album that I’ve heard is really cool, but you’d probably find me out.”

Abel Ferrara by Catherine Shoard

Abel Ferrara
‘I’m not passing judgment. The way I drank and did drugs? You gotta be ­kidding me’ … Abel Ferrara. Photograph: Yves Salmon/Eyevine

A sleepy Cannes competition left room for a noisemaker. Abel Ferrara - refused a spot on the official programme - rolled into town with tent and projector and decided to screen his film his own damn self. Welcome to New York was an outrageous romp “inspired” by the DSK scandal. It immediately caused a scandal. Catherine Shoard chased Ferrara up and down the Croissette to get his reaction to the hoo-hah.

“I’m the guy in front,” he says. “The bullets come; you get hit first. So what? I know the deal. It’s coming in the fucking window, you dig? It’s in my soul.”

Jonathan Glazer by Danny Leigh

Jonathan Glazer
Jonathan Glazer: ‘I must have that alien thing in me to start with. I do feel outside.’ Photograph: Camilla Morandi/Rex Features

The director of our film of the year took 10 years to make his adaptation of Michel Faber’s cult novel. Danny Leigh unpicked the elaborate making of a modern masterpiece with the film-maker, who still doesn’t seem sure if he’s happy with it.

“I’m a bit bereft without the film,” he says. “It’s like falling in love. You think, what do I love? I love this. Some people love it, some are repulsed. Fair enough.”