The Sydney Morning Herald - March 1, 2006
It's all Goode for Matthew
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Matthew Goode and Scarlett Johansson in Match Point.
Matthew Goode is making a habit of "not getting the girl".
Just in the movies, mind you. In Match Point, he's the one Scarlett Johansson cheats on.
"My character dumped Scarlett's character, I will have you know," he says. "Took up with another bird. She just wasn't as famous as Scarlett."
And in Imagine Me ... You, his missus is sorely tempted to cheat - with another woman.
In movie-buff circles, we have a name for that sort of fellow. We call him Ralph Bellamy, the guy who always lost the girl to Cary Grant (The Awful Truth, His Girl Friday).
"Hey, I get mine," says Goode, laughing. "Don't you worry about it. Very lucky man with the leading ladies, I must say - Mandy Moore, Scarlett, Piper [Perabo], Diane Kruger."
This tall, preternaturally deep-voiced Brit got his Hollywood start with Chasing Liberty, with Mandy Moore in 2004. We'll be able to see him with formidable Ed Harris as Beethoven and Kruger as his leading lady in Copying Beethoven later this year.
"Ed didn't scare me. You either feel intimidated by him, or you don't," Goode said.
And now, he's in two movies at once, two in which he's sort of "the other man".
He finds that funny. He's jokey, loose to the point of being loopy. So he apologises for being a bit hung over. Maybe he's just bragging. Goode has joked about how drunk he got when he was cast in Woody Allen's Match Point.
"I think I lost a shoe, which is really hard to do."
Because, well, there's always a reason to celebrate.
"Me, getting offered a job," he says. "That's all it takes."
Imagine Me ... You was higher profile, making Goode the object of flattering profiles and lusty "lists" on the internet - of both sexes.
"That's great, isn't it? Hoo-RAH! If the birds don't work out, I can switch over to the boys."
Imagine Me ... You has Goode as Hector, "Heck", a charming, sensitive, loving and ethical man who can't bear to lie for his job (he's some sort of development wheeler-dealer). And yet he may not be enough for his blushing bride (Perabo). She's blushing at the instant chemistry she feels for their florist (Lena Headey).
"That's what appealed to me, not making this possible relationship break easy for the writer," Goode says. "I worried, with Ollie [Parker, the director], if Heck wasn't too sympathetic. But if you make him any less, you just root for the girls to get together. That's too easy. Put the audience in our predicament. People do break up. It's painful. And messy."
Goode, 29, is a Birmingham University grad, the son of a nurse, a guy who owes his dulcet tones to nature and nicotine. Yes, alas, smoking helped darken his plummy baritone.
He's happy that he passed his first serious test as an actor - "Woody Allen doesn't direct you. He will fire you, if you're not working out, so you're scared, and on your toes. But he lets you figure out how to play your part."
Allen originally set Match Point in New York's Upper East Side, so "a lot of it was kind of clunky, in the colloquialisms, like, New York, transplanted into London", Goode says.
Imagine Me ... You, on the other hand, was more authentic, with British slang and attitudes.
"Of course, I haven't actually seen the film, without having my hand in my face going, 'Oh my God, what a wanker.' Never, never happy with the way I come off on camera."
The career is going great guns, if you don't mind being told you're "more impressive" than your co-stars in Match Point (London's The Independent) or being accused of "angling to become the new Hugh Grant" (The New York Times).
Goode's not there, yet. His leading ladies "are still choosing me, you see. I'm never cast first. Doesn't matter, really. As long as they're sweet, down to earth. Not 'movie stars'. Can't bear them".
Copyright © 2006. The Sydney Morning Herald.
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