Why tell the story of Churchill again?
When people question, "Why Churchill?", I have to say that was never an issue for me. He was an interesting character and became more interesting as we went along. I didn't know very much about him except from a narrative point of view. Everybody has their own idea of Churchill, usually based on some particular period that they're interested in. They know him through the First World War or through the years when he was in the doldrums, the '30s. Or they know about him in the '40s during the Second World War or some specific incident in his life. Here's a man who's had something like three thousand books written about him and countless films made. With Into the Storm, I was drawn to Hugh Whitemore's script which wasn't general in its approach, but very specific and, in that sense, very fresh.
It seems like the relationship between Winston and Clemmie is at the center of this film, with the world events happening almost off screen. Is that true?
Clemmie is certainly at the center of Winston's emotional life, if not his political life. While her importance to Winston is undeniable, the world stage was equally as important to him and his ego is a huge element in trying to understand and appreciate him. In trying to balance those different elements, you arrive at something that's at the center of it, and that's what makes the film unique.
Brendan Gleeson said that if you're Irish, as you and he are, you have a notion of Churchill which is very different than, say, an English person. Did you have to cast aside prejudgments about him?
Growing up in Ireland, I had a different view of Churchill, so it was necessary for me to stand back and reevaluate my thoughts. I'd already had to cast aside most things I learned through an Irish view of Irish history. The more I looked into the man, the more interesting the project became for me.