'Skin' star Jamie Bell on playing a white supremacist skinhead originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
Jamie Bell is nearly unrecognizable as a neo-Nazi for his new film "Skin." He talked about preparing for the role in a recent appearance on "Popcorn with Peter Travers."
"I knew nothing about the story when I read the script for the first time," Bell, 33, told Travers. "It's a movie that, with everything else going on in the news, it was quite incendiary. It was a movie that felt very urgent, and I felt like it shed a light on something we could ordinarily choose to ignore."
Bell plays a real-life person, a neo-Nazi skinhead named Bryon Widner, who decides the path he took as a white supremacist is not the way he should go. As Widner transformed mentally, he also went through an extensive process to remove numerous racist facial tattoos.
"He realizes the choices he has made are bad ones," Bell said. "He meets a woman who changes his life forever. She has three beautiful girls that he becomes obsessed with, and he tries to get himself out, which for a lot of people who do that has a lot of grave consequences."
Bell said he initially had reservations about taking on the role.
"It was kind of a moral seesaw for me," Bell said. "The first time I talked to the real Bryon was near Charlottesville, and I remember ending that conversation with him and calling the director immediately after and thinking, 'I don't think this is a good idea. I think this feels like the wrong time to tell this story.'"
But he realized there was an important message to be shared.
"When I would walk around the small town of Kingston, where we shot this film, I would be covered obviously in the tattoos," Bell said. "Human nature is to usually ignore the kind of monster next to them. They don't want to look at things that are challenging in any way or scary. They look away. And I feel like if we do that as a culture, that's dangerous, because we can radically normalize these kinds of people, and I think that's very dangerous. So hopefully this film, if nothing else, is an urgent, kind of wake up call."
Watch the full interview with Peter Travers Jamie Bell in the video above.