“It’s such a fascinating story, it’s a real odyssey,” Ifans told Jonathan Ross in 2009 during a stint on the Fright night chat show. “He’s an extraordinary man.”
Shooting in Wales and Spain, Mr. Nice added stellar support in the form of Chloë Sevigny as Marks’ wife Judy, while veteran actor David Thewlis took on the role of Jim McCann, the IRA man who helped Marks in his smuggling activities.
“It was very improvisational,” Chloë says, “the shooting, and the director is kind of a wild man; he didn't want to rehearse or block any scenes. Sometimes he wouldn't even let us see the room we were going to do the scene in until we walked in to shoot.
“It was very challenging, because I was also doing a British accent. I rehearsed on my own over and over again, but then Rhys of course improvised and I would have to try and respond in a British accent, with improvisation! But I really love Bernard, I think he's a great filmmaker and it was really fun to shoot that way.”
Rose returns the compliment, saying: “I was a huge admirer of her work, and I basically sent it to her, met with her in a kind of normal way. But she said yes. It is always nice when that happens.”
Ifans, meanwhile, remembers a particularly comical moment during shooting in Spain, when Marks caught the actor behind measured for his wizard outfit in preparation for his appearance in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.
“I’m in this room in the sleeves, the big pointy hat, and Howard wanders past the room with a little ‘fella’ on the go, and he says, ‘I never used to wear stuff like that!’” laughs Ifans. The actor also had to content with some rather colourful ‘60s garb for Mr. Nice.
“Yeah, I just would look in the mirror and think, ‘I look like my Dad,’” the actor says. “How did they cope with those colours? Initially it’s a difficult thing to embrace, but a third of the way into the film [you get used to it].
“It’s such a testament to Bernard’s skill as a director, the scene with the Concorde and the real Studio 54. Of course, it’s a filmic device, but if you embrace it and suspend your disbelief as you do in a film it works. And instead of spending fucking millions on dressing people up and it never works. It always looks too clean. I think that’s Bernard’s genius.”
Asked if he had given Ifans much help for the role, Marks says: “I didn't need to tell him anything. He knew it all. I was available. Occasionally he'd call me and ask me a few things.”
Next: Mr. Nice Guy