Category Archives: Interviews

From runners to cinema ushers, we interview the very best in the film industry!

Heathers – Lisanne Falk & Michael Lehmann Interview

To celebrate the re-release of Heathers, Christian Robshaw spoke with the director and one of the Heathers themselves. Read what they have to say about 30 years of this cult classic.

With the new Arrow Video 30th Anniversary rerelease of Heathers, what are your thoughts on the movie at 30?
Lisanne Falk: I’ve watched the movie at various points throughout the years, and at times I’ve felt that the fashion might have been dated or some things might not have worked as well today, but I rewatched it a couple of weeks ago ahead of all these interviews and I think I appreciated it more than I ever have – the beauty of the dialogue, the themes, the way the whole thing was put together.
Michael Lehmann: That’s good.
LF: Yeah.
ML: I’m really happy that people are still paying attention to the movie, I never would have expected that. It’s really fun just seeing that people still care to look at it. I’d always thought that it might hold up as one of those odd movies that you look at and say, wasn’t it fun that people dressed that way or talked that way, the way I’d look at Rebel Without a Cause or something like that. But the themes of the movie are still alive, and the arena of its discourse – high school – is still alive, and dark humour, if it holds up, is always fun to see. So I guess it holds up enough. I like to think that it does.

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Heathers has actually achieved something of a cult status. Is that something you ever imagined at the time?
LF: Well, you don’t set out to make a cult movie. A cult movie makes itself, right?

So why did it become a cult movie?
ML: Dan[iel Waters]’s script is pretty amazing, his use of language and, I think, his entire concept is worthy in itself of cult status. Nobody else has really written that way.
LF: I didn’t realise until later on that he really just invented that dialogue. That’s not 80s dialogue, which was like “Awesome!”, “That’s rad!”, that valley talk thing which would have dated the movie.
ML: Yeah, it is true that the language is fabricated, people never spoke that way. Part of what we worked on making the movie was to make it flow naturally.
LF: You mean I didn’t just know how to say it naturally?
ML: Oh, you did.
LF: Because I remember being so amazing that you didn’t even have to direct me!
ML: You were always perfect, yes.

It’s also quite a shocking film. It was shocking for its day, but how shocking do you think it is now?
ML: Well, this whole question of how the movie relates to teen violence is complicated. When Columbine happened, I immediately looked to see if there was any reason to believe that these people had ever watched Heathers, if it was a reference point for them at all. As far as I can tell, it was not on their radar. They were looking at Jim Carroll’s Basketball Diaries, is what they said at the time.
LF: Thank goodness.
ML: Right. I would never want to think that anybody would watch Heathers and be inspired to commit violence. And of course, I would say that the movie doesn’t endorse violence in high school at all. But there is a central character in there who looks to use violent means to get vengeance against the people that he thinks are bad, and that’s part of what happens with these things. So it is complicated.
LF: It’s a revenge fantasy, that’s what I think of it as anyway. You know, when you’re being bullied, in high school or at any point in your life, you have these fantasies that you might never vocalise. This is the vocalisation of the ultimate revenge fantasy, come to life. But it’s not reality.
ML: And our main character goes through a moral journey, where she identifies with this bad boy who takes her down a certain path until she says “Wait a minute, this isn’t right”. That’s not a very complicated moral journey, she should have known that that wasn’t the right thing to do from the start…
LF: Well, love is blind!
ML: …but it is a moral journey. So, it’s an interesting question, when people say, “Could you make the movie today?”, well, not exactly as it is, but, you know – Lisanne, you had a great answer for that.
LF: Well I said we wouldn’t remake it because it’s already been made! You’d have to come up with something new and more provocative.
People talk about Heathers as a film that couldn’t be made today, but with constant talk of a remake, plus the musical and the television series, Heathers actually has more cultural presence than ever.
ML: I think that’s partly because the behaviour that the movie depicts, and the issues that it addresses, haven’t gone away. The high school experience for kids has changed in many ways, but it’s also probably pretty much the same.
LF: Well I have a teenage daughter, and I’ve asked her and her friends how they view it. What they relate to the most is how it depicts the high school experience, the different cliques, the bullying and friendships and first loves, that’s what they seem to hang onto and find most engaging, not the suicides.

A few different endings to Heathers were talked about, what was that process like?
ML: Dan wrote an ending in the draft that we took to New World, in which they do blow up the high school, and it ended with prom in Heaven, where everybody is getting along because they were all in Heaven together. But the head of New World Pictures said, “I can’t support a movie in which people who are engaging in murder and faked suicides and then essentially kill themselves are in Heaven” – he felt that it would be irresponsible, were to inspire copycats or anything like that. He felt it was important that the movie reached a certain morally acceptable resolution. Dan and I were not so responsible.
LF: I would have thought, that if I’d seen that ending I would have just seen that as a beautiful visual, I wouldn’t have seen it as these people being dead or whatever else. I think it would have been interesting to me, but obviously the more literal, grown-up people have to take these things into account.
ML: Dan and I made that argument and many others to try to convince him, believe me.
LF: Well, if you don’t get the movie made then nobody will see it, so you do have to make those concessions.
ML: I like the ending that we have. I was relieved when we cut the movie together that it basically worked emotionally and was an acceptable ending. I never thought it was a copout but I don’t think it’s as good as what Dan originally wrote, and I think he feels the same way.

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When we were talking about the iconic fashions of the movie, I was wondering where that look came from.
ML: Rudy Dillon, who was the costume designer for the movie, created those costumes. Did you work really closely with Rudy, Lisanne?
LF: Yeah, we all went in and tried things on, and she had a bunch of clothes and ideas and sketches, from what I remember. It was an exaggerated version of what was the fashion at the time – shoulderpads were big, but ours were doubly big. And we had all those colours at various points of the film – shades of red, blue, green, yellow. That was something I thought was fun but that was all in the script.
ML: Yeah, that was all indicated in the script and was then elaborated on. Jon Hutman, who was the production designer, and Rudy Dillon who did the costumes, worked together really well in figuring out how to implement this colour-coding of the characters and make it work. But it is true that the kind of goofy 80s wardrobe – we knew we were making fun of it at the time. It’s funny now, because people look back and say, “Did people really dress like that?” Well, they did kind of – you know, those were off-the-shelf clothes, but they had been altered.

They are strangely timeless in a way that’s not true of Pretty in Pink or Ferris Bueller.
ML: It’s because we were going for a stylised look, we weren’t taking things that people wore and just having them wear it…
LF: You guys are brilliant. How’d you get so smart? How do you know all these things?

Heathers is showing at select cinemas now! 

“Each character feels so lived in” – Aardman studio director Merlin Crossingham talks Early Man and stop-motion

Deputy Editor Jo Johnstone caught a very special screening of Aardman’s Early Man last year followed by a special Q&A. Read all about her antics. 

Myself, our Editor in Chief Cookie, and my travelling toy Timmy (of Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time fame,) are all gathered in YouTube space near Kings Cross in London. We are here to view the latest feature animation from British studio Aardman Early Man. The studio has given us Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Creature Comforts and Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! and now head to prehistoric

Early Man is a prehistoric romp that asks the question, who invented football? When cave man Dug encounter the bronze age and its super football team, he must train his tribe to play the great game and win back their home from evil Lord Nooth.

Studio director and animator Merlin Crossingham, (yes, that’s his real name.) is talking abut Early Man, his history with Aardman, and everything stop-motion!

We have football playing cavemen set in the stone/bronze age, what was the inspiration to this idea?

‘Well I don’t want to give too much away. The film is a film by Nick Park and his ideas bubble up from, who knows where. It’s not going to spoil things, but football plays a large part in this movie. I think Nick was walking along one day and wondered, who invented football? Who invented it and where did it come from? He doesn’t even like football in particular, he doesn’t follow a team or anything. I think its just one of those ideas that just settled there for a while then just bubbled away and got a bit out of control and we ended up making a movie.’

At what pace were you able to animate? Is there kind of an average portion per day?

‘So for a movie like Early Man, we had a team, at its maximum, of thirty-nine animators. Each of those animators had a target to shoot three seconds per week. And that would be a really good week. That means we were shooting for about eighteen months. One and a half years for the actual animation. That doesn’t include writing it or preparing or post production, just the animation. With something like Morph, we animate much faster. Morph is about six seconds a day. So that’s quite fast, it is lighting fast.’

What causes such a big shift?

‘Well Morph, he’s just made of modelling clay. There’s nothing in him, he is just that. This clay Morph, I made this evening, we could shoot with him. We could make a series, like his YouTube series he has. We shoot faster just because he’s more simple. But feature films, there’s just so much more detail in everything, on every level. Things just slow you right down, the performances, the acting, and the sculpting.’

Do the mouths take up time in particular? Because that’s always the detail that I’m fascinated with, that looks I imagine very effortless but is probably anything but.

‘Well the puppets that are upstairs are actually puppets from the movie, so there not copies, they’re real ones from the film. I have one down here, so I can show you. Dug’s head for example, his hair comes off then his whole head comes out of his body from his neck. You can actually rip his mouth off, so your kind of left with this space here. Then the animators have a box of different mouth shapes. They start with about fifthteen. When people speak, there are some basic shapes that humans make. So there’s a, e, o, s and so on. They have those basic shapes in a box made out of modelling clay. The animators will have all the audio of the performances of the voice artists, and the sound editor will break it down into twenty-four frames a second. Every second of film you see here, there are twenty-four individual frames and the animator will know by this little chart what sound is being made. So if its an aa, they get the aa mouth and they’ll look at it. And if it’s a loud aa, they’ll open it up a bit like AA, and that’s the great thing about clay;  the animators can adjust it frame by frame to correspond with the subtlety of the performance.’

Its one of those charming things when you watched the film, that you can even forget that and just see it as its own thing. But at the same time sometimes it nice to focus in on things just for a second. Just to appreciate that there is so much detail happening.

‘And we don’t hide the fact that we’ve made them with our hands. There are going to be times in the movie where you can see hairs and bumps and thumb prints. You’ll see the jackets and things twitching, from where the animators have had to touch the puppets every frame. We don’t make that go away, we kind of embrace it.’

Am I right in thinking when Flushed Away was animated, even though it was CGI, thumb prints were actually added in so it looked like that same kind of style?

‘Yes that’s right. Actually when we made, going right back to when we made Chicken Run, it was our first feature film, and we thought, “no one wants to see thumb prints.” So we spent ages  – literally you had to lick your thumb and smooth them out. It took forever and it’s a great film. I love it, I worked on it, but there’s something kind of missing. So then when we came to make Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, it was like thumby and funny and we just embraced the thumb prints.’

Are you scared of identity theft?

‘You probably could scan the frame and get our prints so yes.’

With that in mind I guess I’m curious to know, without giving anything away, what were some of the bigger challenges you came across during this film? There are some big sets pieces in this.

‘There are massive set pieces. It’s a stop-motion film, so the stop-motion technique using modelling clay. We used a lot of set extensions, so this stadium is all digital, the only real bit is the grass and the fence. For the crowd, they’re digital doubles but scanned from our puppets. The skies are all painted and put in afterwards. Previously we would have tried to do that with the camera. But you’ve already got puppets that good, you don’t want to make a stadium that’s like…well, it wouldn’t fit in this room. You’re talking a massive arena, nobody could make thirty-five thousand puppets. But when you see close ups of the crowd, they are still our puppets. So when you see, I don’t know seventy of them, we could do seventy but we can’t do thirty-five thousand.’

That’s understandable. One thing I was curious about,as well, is the amazing cast. This film has a great selection of British actors, a real plethora of talent. I was asking earlier, whether you get the recordings first, then animate to their performance? Or whether you animate first, then get the actors to dub the performance?

‘It’s very important to us that we have the voice first. So we knew three years ago who our actors were. Just to recap we have Tom Hiddelston, Eddie Redmayne, Masie Williams, and Nick Park as the voice of Hognob. On top of that, we have Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Johnny Vegas, and loads of others. We’re really lucky that they all jumped on board. The reason for recording first is that actors can do things with their voice, which really allows us to embody the character afterwards. So the voice performance becomes a spring board to the physical performance that you see on screen. It is where the animators can listen and dial in, to either the emotion or the action of the moment.’

I think you really sense that with the performances, they really are so sort of, I was gonna use the word animated, but literally. Were the characters designed first so the actors have something to springboard off and think of, or were you not certain of the look?

By the time the actors actually come to record, we will have first sculpts. They might not be finished puppet’s but we have the first sculpts, so they see something. Some studios put a little bit of the actors features into their puppet but we kind of, well clearly we don’t. Often when you cast there’s a reason you cast them, because they feel like that kind of character. They can be the character you want them to be, so hopefully there’s a similarity there.’

The Johnny Vegas one in particular…

‘He’s brilliant.’

If you had to choose your Early Man name, what would you pick?

‘I think Merlin is a pretty good name already. I think maybe crusher, because I’m not like that at all.’

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As a company that started out in TV, there a major difference working from the big screen to the small?

‘One informs the other. So Morph is our studios oldest character. He’s 41 years old. (Wow… no wrinkles.) He’s still going strong, we still make Morph and we still make work for TV. I think our studio makes feature films, which are great, big and fancy. But having the ability to make stuff for TV, advertising, digital and online content really means that we can nature future talent. I think just focusing on one is a loss from the other areas of creation. I think it’s really important we do them all. There are things you can’t do on TV but you can do on film and vice versa.’

When things in the film are flying, such as the arrows and the football, how do they create that effect?

‘So the puppet Morph is real. He’s held on the floor by gravity. So anytime anything, puppet or a spear, has to fly through the air, we will use a rig. It might be just a bit of fishing wire or a bit of metal that kind of goes clear of the shot. You would still see a bit of metal, you’d still see that fishing wire but we would animate it. Once we’ve done the animation, we take the puppets away from the sets and we film a bit of the set empty. That means we can use, well its sort of like Photoshop, if you’ve ever used that at digital post production. We can get rid of those things holding up the spear and just leave the spear. That way, it looks like its flying through the air. It’s very clever.’

You’ve got a really interesting job, how did it all start?

‘Well I wanted to be a pilot but I’m colour blind, so I couldn’t be a pilot. I was like, I don’t know what to do, so I gate crashed a lecture that my friend was going to about animation. I was about eighteen and just though, oh my god, that’s amazing.

So I got myself into film school, studied animation I was lucky to get a job at Aardman as a runner, doing the odd jobs. Then Aardman saw my work and took me on. That was twenty-three years ago and I’ve been with the studio ever since.’

Does the colour blindness affect any of the animation?

‘No, not really. The only thing it can affect in the past was when I was an animator. (Sorry, I then became an animator and director later on.) In Creature Comforts the series, there’s several characters with green tongues, things like that. I just need to have an art director that I trust. The thing is I know when things aren’t right, I just often can’t articulate the specific colour why. I can say, its too warm, too cold, too this, too that. I just can’t say it’s too much orange.’

With you being colour blind, does your team sometimes play with you and try and sneak random colours in?

‘No. Probably for the best.’

In a day and age when technology is so amazing and its all about making money and getting things rolled out as quick as possible. What’s the rationale behind stop-motion animation verse CGI, where the regular punter wouldn’t see the difference?

‘CGI is about two thirds more expensive than stop-motion. If it were just on a money thing, stop-motion is actually cheaper to make. But the film industry is about making films successful and they are an investment for companies like StudioCanal and Aardman. Really the technique behind it, for us, is what will make the film work and be funny? The unique thing that Aardman brings is a physical sensibility, through its stop-motion. We’ve also made two CGI movies, so if the project is right for CGI, we’ll do CGI. Really just depends on the idea for us.’

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In your career as an animator director, what has been your all time favourite project to work on?

‘Well my first feature film Chicken Run was quite brilliant. I was the lead animator for Rocky, who was Mel Gibson’s character. But I think my favourite film to work on was actually Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I was lead on Wallace and Gromit and second unit director as well. It was the beginning of my directing career but also a wonderful film to work on.’

How do you go about the casting process for the actor?  The voices behind each characters, how do you choose them?

‘It’s a lot of listening with your eyes closed because they must be good voices. We’re not after their dashing looks, I mean its helps when it comes to press and PR but its actually the performances they can give. British actors are unique in as much as there’s a thriving radio play industry. Lots of British actors have performed on radio, and it really makes them thinks about how they vocalise and express themselves. Otherwise it’s the same as anything else. We know the character from the script, and we’ll listen. If we can’t get them in to read some lines, we’ll take lines from various movies they’ve done. Maybe animate to them with our character. Then the next stage is to ask them to read a line or two, animate it. It’s kind of a casting session. It’s a lot of time involved, and they do change. Early on scripts could still be evolving. If the character changes, the voice artist, no matter how talent they are, may not fit. But I think with this film, Nick had a very clear idea in his head who the characters were and who he wanted. He went for them and got them first time, so that’s the best way. And it works so well and each character feels so lived in.’

With that Merlin bids us farewell to watch Aardman’s latest offering Early Man

Early Man is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!
Read our review! 

“It’s a very good challenge” – Bill Irwin talks Legion

Legion has become one of our favourite shows. We’re so excited to see it come back, exploring a show filled with mutants through the guise of mental illness and manipulation. As we head back into the psyche of David Haller, a schizophrenic who has been plagued by another mutant, there are now so much strands to explore.

Legendary actor Bill Irwin stays in the series as Cary Loudemilk, a clever scientist who shares a body with Kerry Loudemilk. As we continue to celebrate Season 2, we’re excited to talk to Irwin about his role on the show.

What drew you to the character?

What I like about Cary is that he is a geeky scientist not confined to a chair. It’s a bit of a challenge and I’m thrilled to be playing someone who is accidentally living a double life – a bigger life. It’s a great acting performance. When I first met Noah Hawley, he didn’t mention Marvel or even the title Legion. Bit he did mention a character of a different age, who isn’t very brave, but has a fierce warrior woman of a much younger age inside of him. I really loved that. 

What makes Legion such a popular and different series?

I wish I was more knowledgeable about television in general. I’m not as literate. What I know about American television is that it is in a golden era and has expanded so much more. Legion experiments with complexity in a way that I don’t know any other show that does.  It has a great quality to it and keeps people in conversation with the high stakes and it isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen.

What do you say to people when they try to describe it?

It’s very challenging but essentially, it’s about the struggle of good verse evil and trying to define that. Everyone is trying to protect their own sense of worth and no one is a reliable narrator. Even the lead David Haller is so tricky and Dan Stevens really makes him a wonderful character in that sense.

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In the last season there was an issue between you and Kerry, with the latter feeling a sense of betrayal from Cary. How does this continue into the season season? 

Betrayal is such a charged word – and it is a betray with my character Cary trying to define it differently. It’s such a good question and shooting those scenes are definitely emotionally charged. They feel betrayed by one another and young Amber has gotten so close as a colleague that her feel betrayed is actually hurtful.  I found myself wishing there was more dialogue but I really love the overall texture of the relationship. It’s a conflict in my character who thought it was absolutely necessary to leave her but was he just following an adventure and was too geeky to turn it down? It’s a very complex arc and things do get worse.

There’s a lot of intense experiences and crazy visuals in the show, what’s it like filming those aspects? 

Because you want to conserve energy and you have time pressure, you have to shoot fast and how they want it. There’s a lot of emotion into the camera and it stays still. The camera is all on you and I have to prepare for every scene. It’s like I’m on stage and That’s the Legion sensibility. The eye of the camera has a certain intensity that is a lot like a comic book. it’s like your whole body has been flown into space and that’s just with the eyes. As an actor, you have to be ready to fly into space and that’s a very good challenge. 

How is it watching the show back?

It’s hugely surprising. We try to read the script very carefully and feel the whole tapestry to some level. While you’re filming, it is very “me me me” and you semi-forget that you are part of something bigger as you concentrate on your thing. When you see the finished episode – the way they fuse together – is a great surprise.

What’s it like working so closely with Dan Stevens? Especially as Cary is both friend but also has to treat him like a guinea pig?

Working with David means I have the benefit of working with Dan Stevens, who is one of the most wonderful men on Planet Earth. In Season 1, David arrives in this place with this character and is this new guy. There’s a lot of “can we trust him?” But we were on Team David. Now in Season 2, it’s my job to distrust David. It’s very exciting and disorientating because Dan is shooting with multiple David voices.

What’s it like working with different directors? 

It’s very hard to explain to people who don’t work in television that there is a different director. It’s centrally Noah Hawley and he is the ultimate story-teller and show-runner. But he hands over power to individual characters. This past season has had very young directors and women so there’s different sensibilities and that’s wonderful.

Legion continues Tuesdays at 9pm on FOX

Wonderstruck – Review

There are a lot of films coming out this week. Teen comedies such as Love, Simon, teen thrillers such as Thoroughbreds, historical dramas such as 120 BPM, and horrors such as A Quiet Place and Ghost Stories. There’s even a fantasy drama in the  form of I Kill Giants. 

It feels weird then that accomplished and ground-breaking director Todd Hayne’s work Wonderstruck would feel like the one film getting the biggest shaft with this week’s releases. Despite his acclaimed work, it’s odd that his latest movie would be one only whispered about online as opposed to other features.

That being said, if you do catch it, there’s a lot to enjoy from a film that, despite being a lesser outing for Haynes, bounds with a rambunctious spirit.

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Based on an illustrated children’s book by Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck revolves around two different stories set across decades that intertwine. In 1927, Rose runs away from her father to track down her mother, the actress Lillian Mayhe, whilst in 1977, Ben runs away in search of his father. Through their different yet similar journey’s, we follow their personal discoveries into who they are and who their parents were.

This succinct period drama across eras is still a showcase of Haynes’ gift in telling a story through visuals and character. There’s a lot of ambition locked inside this movie and it flows with imagination.  There is a richness of it’s cinema narrative is that, although it may be quaint and somewhat sickly, it still flows with a mystical and enchanting drum. Haynes weaves the two tales with an clear admiration for both the 20s and the 70s era as they are lovingly juxtaposed against one another.

The two young leads are fantastic and absorbing to watch as they dive deep into identity and who they are. Millicent Simmonds (who you can also find this week in A Quiet Place) is a deaf actress performing as a deaf child here. As Rose, her sequences are told entirely as a silent film as she hunts for her famed mother. Simmonds does an incredible job at conveying an earnestness to her character as she battles with her disjointed and angered parents. Oakes Fegley, who burst onto the screens with Pete’s Dragon, is superb as Ben, conveying the same arc as he also tackles the loss of his beloved mother. The two are equally matched in skill and are flanked by older actors such as Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, who make charming additions to the film.

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What Wonderstruck seems to struggle with is deviating away from it’s gimmicks. The overpowering score and it’s lack of complete depth cause the feature to falter. At times it can feel confusing or even dull, which dampens a lot of the fantastical sequences.

Still Wonderstruck is worth a viewing. This is a somewhat enchating children’s tale, told through Haynes vivid eye and dream-like approacch to the story. It may not be as fleshed out or as accomplished as his previous work, yet you’ll find small delights here.

Wonderstruck is out in cinemas now! 

“It’s a perfect story” – Actor Mark Jackson talks about The Orville!

This evening UK audiences get to go where no man has never gone before…

No no, we’re not talking Star Trek here. We’re talking The Orville. That’s right. Seth MacFarlane’s latest comedy series about an intrepid bunch of galaxy explores airs in the UK finally. To celebrate it’s release, we spoke with Norwegian born British actor Mark Jackson to speak about his role as Isaac, the ships android.

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How are you today?

I’m very well. LA is a little bit chilly and cold mornings part from that it is getting hotter.

Are you excited about bringing The Orville to UK audiences?

It’s really exciting. I’m part of the British cast and it is great that my lot, the Brits, actually get to see the show. The Americans are more than half-way through.

Are your family and friends having a viewing part?

I think I’ve convinced most of them to get whatever package it is on to see it!

Can you describe your character to us?

Isaac is an artificial lifeform who is completely constructed by an alien race so he is anatomically quite bizarre. It is a challenge in lots of ways and there has been nothing like it before. It is quite new to me. There is something quite charming about playing the creature and, as an actor, you don’t often get that opportunity. There’s a whole world out there with puppeteering and companies such as Andy Serkis’ Imaginarium that specialises in motion capture. It is wonderful to tap into that and the work that folk like Doug Jones and Guillermo Del Toro do and be inspired by them.

So was it interesting constructing a character from scratch? Did you have to breakdown your own humanity to do so?

I didn’t have to break down my own humanity, I’m not Daniel Day-Lewis. I think there are a few things that came into place. The first thing was the costume and the way that I moved. T hey always make you feel different, the outfits, whether it’s a button-up Edwardian three-piece-suit or a hip-hop outfit. It all makes you feel different. You just feed that into the way you work.

Isaac is an incredibly logical and curious form, that’s the basis of his personality and he finds himself in “curiosity killed the cat,” situations.

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What drew you to the project?

The audition came about and it was sci-fi, Seth MacFarlane, and living in LA. It was just wonderful and a no-brainer for me. It was a challenge and it was kinda cool to be creative. It’s like nothing I’d ever done before. But I’ve always been a fan of MacFarlane’s work. It’s a perfect story and I’m also a big sci-fi fan such as Star Trek Next Gen and Voyager. Me and Seth bonded over sci-fi, Eman Banks and Arthur C. Clark. There works and ingenuity were poured into The Orville. The scripts were great and I was pleasantly surprised by the script.

Did you draw inspiration from other comedy spoof sci-fi shows and films such as Galaxy Quest?

Absolutely. All the comedy and sci-fi like Space Balls. But I think it is important to say that it isn’t a spoof. It takes a look at the science fiction drama and turns the funny in on itself. Comedy comes from taking the situation seriously, believing in what’s happening, and the show is surprisingly dark in many places. I think it’s wonderful, ripping the rug from underneath you, and then throwing in comedy. It is a really weird mix and there is nothing like it on TV.

What was the best moment on set?

There were so many great moments. We had a great visitor when Elon Musk popped on set to say Hello. Here’s the man trying to send the human race to the stars and it was remarkable. We had so much fun filming. We went on some great locations and into the wilderness as part of the planets. There was some great fun, some crazy long hours and comradery that comes about 16 hours in a freezing huddle eating cheese sandwiches.

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How working in America differ from working in England?

They are very different places. I travelled on New Year’s Day and had a dramatic goodbye on a rooftop in Shoreditch. It was hard to say goodbye to friends. I got on a plane and arrived here. LA had not had rain for a long time but when I got there, for the next six weeks, it pissed it down. So I had to deal with that.

I was pretty much prepared to get on a plane and fly all the way back. But I wound up really liking this place. I do miss British things but LA is wonderful.

What kind of British things do you miss?

Friends and family. In a weird way, you miss the weather. It is really intense here and I ended up buying a sunhat. I got fed up with the sun and I am a sun worshipper. I miss a decent cup of tea and there’s no cordial! It’s just juice. No Robinsons or Vimto. I miss the winding little Europeon cities and just to walk around in London. That’s when stuff happens.

What’s next?

Season 2 has been confirmed which is exciting. I am splitting my time between LA and the UK, auditioning on both sides of the pond. There’s some great projects upcoming!

Thank you!

Thank you!

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“Explosive, young, and on the edge.” Mercedes Gower talks movie Brakes

Love in the city is hard. It’s a tricky beast, people weaving in and out of love under the London skyline. A lot of films have tried to capture this and portray it on the big screen. We end up with sickly awkward but genuinely sweet movies such as Love Actually or Man Up.

But Mercedes Gowers’ Brakes is a toe-curling and intimately emotional indie film about the pain of love. Bringing together our finest British actors, Brakes is a series of vignettes about couples breaking up before flitting forward to see how they got together.

We were lucky enough to talk to Mercedes about her new release!

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How are you? How dies it feel getting a big release? 

I’m quite nervous actually. Hopefully, there will be a time where I might enjoy it.

Must be quite nervous as a first feature. 

It’s unusual. I’m not sure how the non-linear aspects are going to go down. I haven’t even been thinking about enjoying it. Hopefully we’ll have a celebatory weekend. Steve Oram was like “It is going to be great.”

It’s like putting your child out there.

Where did you draw inspiration from?

I’ve done comedy and dark comedy. I’ve just been thinking about people breaking up for year. It is just so personal and we all go through it. It’s so intense and weird. Warped, funny, and emotional. You are with this personal for a long time. You’re in a bubble on either side and at both ends, the break up and getting together, it’s very heightened.

I definitely wanted to do it backwards and get into the real life . You can play on it and it turns into this figure of 8. The whole thing was a jigsaw puzzle. We shot it backwards too: Filming the break-ups first. but the meet-ups worked so well as the actors new what the characters had been through. It was funny to plunge into a first meet from these intense break-ups, you can trace back exactly what went wrong.

How did you come about the stories? Were there any based in truth? 

I was just thinking about making them as varied as possible and who’d work with each other. There loads of different ones like Julian (Barrett) being a stalker or Paul McGann and Kate Hardie having an affair. There’s also me and Noel (Fielding) having that innocent thing at the beginning. It’s interesting to see how dark it is going to go and making them as varied as possible.

Every break up is different.  I find it funny how everyone shows so much of yourself to another person. We varied it up a bit. I loved Kerry (Fox) and Roland (Gift), to have all those pauses – it’s very deep and adult with the weight of a long time relationship. Me and Noel are more explosive, young and on the edge.

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There’s a big character with London, how did this come into play? 

I think any city will make you fall in love faster. Whether you are falling in love or breaking up, it becomes intense. There’s so much going on in the trees, the buildings, and the rooftops. I wanted to include some places I’ve gone too. But I think it’s intense no matter where – like the country-side would become all ‘Heathcliffe’ like . I was using what I had – the romance of London.

How did you get so many  great British actors involved? 

I was very lucky. The comedy bunch, I’ve known for a long time. Julian,Steve, and Noel are old friends of mine and thought it was fascinating to do a film like this. Everyone I asked seemed excited to do so, especially with the improvising. It was quite a laugh! I think Kerry Fox is incredible so I was happy when she came on board. She’s an interesting and extraordinary actress.

How did they form as couples? 

It was more through timings and chemistry. I enjoyed Paul MccGann and Kate Hardie’s affair. Peter White and Julia Davies had to break up twice! Julia Davis is quite good at all that comedic darkness though.

How tricky was it filming your own scene? 

I was very lucky that Noel suggested he’d do mine with me, which I had been putting off.  We had quite a good shorthand together and I was glad it was him!  We bounced brilliantly off one another and we had that great snow. It was brilliant to do!

Brakes is out in cinemas now!