Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer - is exactly the movie that I was dreaming of. Nobody influenced us in the direction we took, or forced us to go somewhere we didn't want to go. Obviously, it is a movie that goes some ways that aren't conventional.— Tom Tykwer
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I saw Ben Whishaw playing Hamlet at the Old Vic and straight away had a very strong sense that he might be the end of a very, very long road of searching for the right guy. He did an amazing audition, where it all came across this, instinctive feeling that he obviously had for the character in the Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer.
Alan Rickman has a huge presence in the Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer and takes an enormous amount of space with no effort. I wanted somebody to leave behind a strong impact and be a threat for Grenouille. When Alan takes to the screen, we immediately know there's an intelligent, instinctive and powerful force, so if he's pursuing our main guy then our main guy is in trouble.
I actually met a producer of Stanley Kubrick's who told me that Kubrick had never even thought about doing Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer. He just read it and didn't want to do it - that's it. There's a myth around that he said it's not filmable. But he never wanted to film it.
If you then cast a somebody, playing a nobody is always an additional effort.
But that was not the reason we cast him. It was because Ben Whishaw delivered exactly what I was hoping for.
I think ultimately one would say that the most difficult part of the Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer is the balancing of the main character. To get him being so ambivalent in his whole conception.
I was lucky I guess. My main job was done when I finally found Ben Whishaw and knew that there was someone who could portray a character who was so ambiguous and multi-faceted. Ben is equally dark and innocent; potentially violent and yet at the same time kind of a boy. He got all that across and still makes audiences root for the guy even though they might be kind of disturbed by that fact.
I love that contradiction between the ugly and the nice.
It's shot in a very gourmet way in the Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer. But then Grenouille doesn't differentiate between what's commonly considered to be good smells and bad. He just takes it all, like a true collector does.
With Dustin Hoffman, I just enjoyed the fact he was this flamboyent and very ironic person that still followed my desire to make Baldini in the Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer not simply a joke, or the funny guy, but also a personality and a character.