Bruce Campbell on Maurice Wilkins
After reading the script, what was your first reaction towards Maurice Wilkins, has that first impression changed at all after taking on his character?
Well, if you read him casually, he can come across as a bit of an oaf. After reading his autobiography in preparing for the role, that impression went right out the window. Turns out he's a pretty complicated guy--his background is much wider ranging than the play details, but I've been finding it there inside the lines.
What are the most important attributes about your character that you want to come across on stage?
I almost don't want to say--I want the performance to say that! But I guess it would somewhere in the vicinity of knowing what he most valued in being a scientist. That's key to understanding him. On another level, I've really been drawing on the particular physicality of some research scientists I've known personally, especially one NASA scientist who is an amazing guy. The relationship between scientists and their own bodies can be . . . complex.
Which do you think Wilkins regrets more, failing to be the first to discover the genetic structure or breeding a negative relationship with Rosalind?
Oh, man, you're gonna make me give away the ending!
In what ways are you able to connect/relate to your character? What are the greatest challenges in doing so?
I think Maurice Wilkins was a strong scientist and also someone who was helpless to be anything but himself, and a man of his time. I think all of us end up on the wrong side of history, if we live long enough and stumble through enough difficult situations--and I know all of us can feel the pain of perfect hindsight. It's been pretty easy torelate to this guy.
Do you think Wilkins changed after working with Rosalind, or did he revert back to his normal behavior as a standard male scientist in the 1950's?
I'm cheating a little, because I read his book, but without question he was changed. Not necessarily the way the play describes, but he did brood a lot about what could have gone right. For the sake of the play, that makes him almost a tragic figure. That's what made me most excited to do the part after reading the script: that this was a fully embodied character who was not just a foil for Rosalind, and the arc of his dashed hopes leaves the audience feeling like they have a deep sympathy with his situation.