Torture for the ER doc
August 2001
Daily Mail

Goran Visnjic is taking a four-day break next week from shooting a thriller called Doctor Sleep so he can steel himself for haunting scenes of torture.

Mr Visnjic, star of TV's ER, has been working on director Nick Willing's terrifying film with leading lady Shirley Henderson (Shazzer in Bridget Jones). He plays a hypnotist, she plays the police detective who pushes him to become involved in a chilling murder and kidnapping investigation.

"My character doesn't want to accept this mission but there's a girl involved and he doesn't want her hurt," he says. As we speak, Goran is on location in London, reading a copy of Hamlet. "It's a good exercise for a foreigner to learn English," he says of his brush with the bard.

"I've four days off before we film the torture scenes, and they're going to be emotionally intense and I need to be fully rested before I face them."

One sequence involves an attempt to insert a large needle into Goran's eye. Director Willing included many of his own fears in his screenplay, based on a novel by Madison Smartt Bell.

"I included all the things that scare me the most - needles, rats and 16th century alchemy," he said.

Willing's imagination owes much to his parents, painter Paula Rego and the late Victor Willing. "You grow up with images flooding your head. The way something looks can give you a language all its own." He likens Goran to a young Alain Delon, while he believes Shirley has the charm of a Holly Hunter.

"They have tremendous fire and energy on screen." I agree with Michele Camarda, the picture's producer, when she says it has none of the "little Brit pic" feel about it. "It has a big commercial movie feel about it."