Ben Whishaw is so thoughtful and soft-spoken that you don't dare interject when he pauses – and he pauses a lot. For a journalist with a relatively short time limit with the British actor, it is equal parts frustrating and refreshing. Frustrating because you wish you could peer into Whishaw's head to see exactly what he means (prior to the thoughts getting caught up in everyday verbiage) and refreshing because so few film stars dare to offer reporters answers that are not canned or watered down.

Whishaw was in Toronto last week to attend the Toronto film festival premiere of Jane Campion's 'Bright Star,' in which he plays poet John Keats. The film takes place in the last few years of Keats' life when he forged a relationship with his neighbour, Fanny Brawne (Australian actress Abbie Cornish). The duo embarked on a passionate love affair only to have it cut off abruptly by Keats' death, at age 25, from tuberculosis.

Ben Whishaw is so thoughtful and soft-spoken that you don't dare interject when he pauses – and he pauses a lot. For a journalist with a relatively short time limit with the British actor, it is equal parts frustrating and refreshing. Frustrating because you wish you could peer into Whishaw's head to see exactly what he means (prior to the thoughts getting caught up in everyday verbiage) and refreshing because so few film stars dare to offer reporters answers that are not canned or watered down.

Whishaw was in Toronto last week to attend the Toronto film festival premiere of Jane Campion's 'Bright Star,' in which he plays poet John Keats. The film takes place in the last few years of Keats' life when he forged a relationship with his neighbour, Fanny Brawne (Australian actress Abbie Cornish). The duo embarked on a passionate love affair only to have it cut off abruptly by Keats' death, at age 25, from tuberculosis.

"There was a resilience and robustness in spite of his fragility and sensitivity," Whishaw says of his alter ego. And like John Keats, Whishaw is both delicate and tough as well. The 29-year-old theatre star may appear cachectic and dishevelled in person but his strong stage presence has caused critics to brand Whishaw as the next Olivier. He is most recognisable to film goers for his starring role in 'Perfume' and his turn as Rimbaud-Dylan in 'I'm Not There.' It is Whishaw's performance as John Keats, however, that is his most high profile on screen gig to date.

In 'Bright Star,' Campion focuses both on the 19th century poet's devotion and his guardedness toward his relationship with Brawne. "He's wary, I think, at first and he's frightened of what those feelings might be," Whishaw explains. He says that Keats was so immersed in what he considered his purpose on earth – poetry – that for him love was a source of distraction. "I think [Fanny] may have felt that way also," Wishaw says of the woman who was as engaged in her progressive clothing designs as Keats was in his poetry.

However, in the end, both of them give in to love. Though Whishaw has never divulged to the press anything about his private life (the press often questions his sexuality), he can understand the obsession Keats felt for Brawne. "At the time I got really carried away," Whishaw says of his own infatuation with Keats himself. "I was reading everything I could get my hands on about him. More than I could get into the film, really. What we see in the film is only an angle – there was so much more to him."