ESQUIRE: So it's been a while. What have you been up to these past few years?
JOSEPH FIENNES: Working. In Europe, mostly, with independent filmmakers and producers. I decided a long time ago that I didn't want to chase big-box-office movies, so even when Shakespeare went through the roof, it didn't change anything. I still wanted to be a working actor, which is all I've ever known and all I've ever wanted.
ESQ: But you were the Next Big Thing.
JF: There's always going to be a Next Big Thing and a hottest this and the sexiest that. That's the nature of the beast, but I didn't want to be involved in it. It's too easy to get pigeonholed in the movie business, and I didn't want to be pigeonholed. I wanted to be a free agent, and if I wanted to go and work with strange European alternative filmmakers rather than big American studios, I could.
ESQ: Which brings us, of course, to your new show produced by a big American studio.
JF: Well, like all interesting characters, I contain contradictions. Forgive me. But I feel that American television is so much more exciting and engaging than movies. Its characters tend to be more well-rounded, and it doesn't adhere to the same formulaic structure that I read every time I pick up a film script.
ESQ: So TV is good?
JF: TV is more than good, and I don't quite know how this little adventure of mine is going to pan out. I could get a phone call saying the show's been canceled. I could get a call saying they're ordering another ten episodes. I'm just rolling with the punches.
ESQ: In case it does get canceled, can you clear up some of the show's mysteries?
JF: I only know what's happening in the next episode — that's all they tell me. I'm living with the character as one does in daily life: not knowing what's around the corner.
I just want him to bat those mile-long lashes at me. I think I'd get an instaboner.