Truman Capote, take two

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Let's just get this out of the way: Toby Jones, who plays famed author Truman Capote in "Infamous," has not seen the 2005 film "Capote." But potential "Infamous" audiences likely have.

"A lot of people meet me [and say], 'You know, I went in to this movie expecting to really hate it,'" Jones ("Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Finding Neverland") told us over the phone from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. "Why would you expect to hate a film you haven't seen?"

Well, it's because fans and critics raved about "Capote," which was shot at the same time as "Infamous" and landed a Best Picture nomination and a Best Actor trophy for Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role. The two movies are about nearly the same thing: Capote's researching of the brutal 1959 murders of a Kansas family that served as the foundation for his novel, "In Cold Blood," his relationship with convicted killer Perry Smith (played by Daniel Craig in "Infamous") and his friendship with Nellie Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock).

Jones knew that "Capote" was being made before "Infamous" started shooting, but at the time he didn't give it much thought.

"To be honest, I said, 'Right, right,' not really taking it in because of the scale of the job I had,'" he says. "There was very little that could distract me."

Jones previously knew very little about Capote--writer-director Douglas McGrath chose Jones partly because of his striking resemblance to the legendary author--and total focus was necessary for the England-born Jones to research the Louisiana-born, New York-raised Capote and adopt his extremely distinctive voice.

The voice, Jones says "was clearly the major shock when I first saw footage of him." That moment occurred when Jones saw an appearance of Capote's on "The Dick Cavett Show."

"I heard this man speak, [and] I thought, 'Oh, no! Oh please, no!'" Jones says. "It was absolutely inexplicable how someone could speak like that."

Jones worked with a voice coach to not only capture Capote's voice but to work it into the rest of the performance as well.

"We devised a [90-minute] warm-up that we would do in the beginning of the day … so I felt that I was in control of the voice rather than vice-versa," he says. "I sort of wandered around and tried to make sure that the voice came from the body rather than from an idea."

Still, Jones says it wasn't difficult to get out of character when he needed to; thing is, while shooting, technically he didn't need to.

"There isn't an actual need to come out of being Capote at the end of the day because you're not talking to anyone when you go back to your hotel room," he says. "It was exhausting to play him, I know that."

One of the most difficult scenes for Jones was an emotional exchange between Capote and Smith, but it is simply an intensely intimate scene between friends--not the characters' kiss that has attracted so much attention from the press, since Craig is the new James Bond and, therefore, Jones now knows what it's like to kiss 007.

"A kiss is a kiss," Jones says, "and as an actor you do that anytime, whether you're auditioning to be a Bond girl or not. Kissing is not a problem."

The two actors had also previously worked together in the film, "Hotel Splendide," so they had a past relationship from which to work.

Jones says he still can't believe that production of "Infamous" and "Capote" began around the same time. He chalks it up to the author simply being a ripe character for a movie, particularly when focusing on the pre-"In Cold Blood" part of his life.

"Capote's fascinating because he's from this world of glamour and we're fascinated by glamour out of water," Jones says. "He's completely uprooted and put in the middle of nowhere. We see a character exposed by where he is."

But he reiterates that "Infamous" exposes different elements about the similar story found in "Capote," while worrying that people will take the latter film as facts to carry with them into the former.

"I think that people who don't know anything about Capote will somehow see ["Capote"] as giving them the knowledge that they need to assess ["Infamous"]," he says.

Jones plans to watch "Capote" after "Infamous" opens, and says he is not anxious to see Hoffman's performance. "Everyone I've met tells me what a great performance it is," he says. "It's not going to be a surprise if it is."

But does Jones think awards shows will hesitate to show love to "Infamous" after heaping nominations and awards on "Capote"?

"Well, I really hope not!"

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