Fans of The Full Monty know what Scottish actor Robert Carlyle looks like, from head to toe and his features don't exactly remind us of Adolf Hitler. But for some reason, at least three directors have courted him to play Germany's dictator. CBS finally won him over to star in Hitler: The Rise of Evil (Part Two airs tomorrow at 9 pm/ET), though Carlyle seems disturbed by the Fuhrer connection.
"I don't think I have a resemblance to him," says Carlyle, who honed his maniac schtick as Begbie in Trainspotting. "Perhaps in terms of physical weight and height I'm the same, but you can be made to look that way."
The Hitler makeup team added a prosthetic nose and cheeks, a new hairline and blue contacts to complete the physical transformation. The results, he says, were chilling. "It was difficult not to look at that face and read something into it," he recalls. "My wife came over [to the Prague set] for just a week, which was probably good. It's not the most attractive costume to be in when you haven't seen your wife for a couple of months."
Recreating the personality of Hitler depicted here from childhood through 1934 proved tricky. "I don't think the movie humanizes him," Carlyle explains. "There was obviously nothing [about him] with which I could identify, so you have to look outside for more peripheral things. One of these things for me was his passion for opera, for Wagner... so I started to listen to the stuff. I could see the effect that these heroic German legends could have on him.
"It was very difficult to shake [the character] off at night," he adds. "I would go to the hotel, lie in the bath and listen to Wagner to keep me in the mindset. [But] there were a couple of times where I really wanted to let this guy go."