Occasionally, the actor will kind of stumble upon a cinematic niche, whether it be play the judiciary or be a teacher all over again. It’s not something performers necessarily want to do, but if you’re a working character actor, sometimes that’s how it works out.
Rory Kinnear has found one of those niches, and it’s cool: The British actor has played multiple characters in the same production four times over the past six years. He took over John Clare and Creature for Penny Dreadfula pair of nautical twins for Our flag means deathand another set of twins for Inside No. 9.
Kinnear’s last multifaceted performance is perhaps the most impressive. In Alex Garland’s latest film MenKinnear inhabits “nine or 10” different characters, each of which he says he teased and developed. Each of Kinnear’s characters acts as an increasingly real threat to the sanity and livelihood of Harper Jessie Buckley, who has come to what she sees as an idyllic country town following the death of her ex-husband. If I said more, it would ruin the movie and do Garland a disservice. Men, which is buried in its layers of naturalism, gender politics and horror. But suffice to say, all of Kinnear’s characters are creepy as hell.
WIRED spoke to Kinnear about Menmakeup and is there Our flag means death there’s a trio. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
WIRED: What was the concept Men threw you?
Rory Kinnear: It was almost a complete script with the indication: “They would like you to play all the male roles except for one.” I think I didn’t even read “except for one” when I first read this, so I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t asked to play the boyfriend.
So anyone will be interested. Then after reading this and seeing that doing all these roles makes sense and not just some sort of pop act or trying to show off my acting ability or lack of… I wanted to make sure that it meant something or that there was a reason for it. I kind of felt like it was, and then when Alex and I discussed it, we seemed to get along really well, and I could tell that this multiplicity of me had a bigger purpose than leaving the audience screaming, “What for the many characters he has played.” That’s how I knew I was ready for it.
This is also the fourth time in six years that you’ve played multiple characters on the same project. Why do you think you got into this niche? It’s pretty specific.
I don’t know.
I mean the first one was Penny Dreadful. In this I played the Frankenstein creature, but in the episode I also played who the creature was before it died. Then he also turned into Satan and Lucifer, if I remember correctly. They were all in the same cloth-lined cell. It was the first time I did it though, and I know that John Logan actually wrote this episode for me and Eva Green, so there might have been something he wanted to see in me, I don’t I know.
I did this on a previous show called Inside No. 9where I played identical twin brothers separated at birth, who are different from the twin brothers I played in Our flag means death.
I’d like to say it’s because people are inspired by my elasticity, but maybe it’s just because I’m cheap.
How did you find your way in each of your Men characters? Were there some that were harder than others?
I knew they would have to be different, and Alex made it very clear that he didn’t want this to be some sort of prosthetic show. We wanted it to come from the game.
Obviously a lot of the characters don’t have much to say, so I knew the only way was to do what I do with whatever role I play and create a backstory. You create who that character is based on their life experiences and various influences on them to the point where; when you meet them as an audience, you know who they are.
As soon as I wrote these biographies, I sent them to Alex and then to Lisa. [Duncan] and Nicole [Stafford], the head of costumes and the head of hair and make-up, and we had it back and forth. I didn’t write “I think they look like this” because I knew it was their skill and not mine, but I said, “That’s who this person is. That’s where they came from. It’s their relationship with their parents,” stuff like that. They then returned with various moodboards and review boards of how they thought things were progressing.
The vicar wears contact lenses, and he’s the only one who does. There was something about those contact lenses that blocked me, Rory, from the screen a little darker.
It was kind of like “let’s throw this at the wall and see what sticks”, but I was always aware that I wanted to make sure I kept who they were on the inside and not worry too much about how they looked on the outside. .
It’s one thing to play a bunch of different grown men, but the movie also uses some CGI tricks to turn you into a child. Is there a difference in how a child’s face moves and how an adult’s face might react?
Well, there is an element of leaving everything to the people who will do the work after you. I don’t quite understand how this is done. I sort of walked through what I had to do and what would be done. So, the way I played the boy was like the way I played anyone else. You absorb who they are, their characteristics and their personality, and then you act with the other person in front of you.
I read story in Screenrant and they said that “as is almost always the case with Kinnear, he manages to create a person who is both very unpleasant, but from whom it is almost impossible to look away … “
What a headstone!
Well, you’ve played quite a few terrible guys in your career. What do you think makes casting directors and even viewers look at you and say, “This guy is terrible.”
I think with some of the rotten ones I’ve played, you needed or at least wanted to get an ambivalent reaction from the audience where their feelings are complicated, while I claim that I’m actually quite nice.
Basically, I don’t know why I was chosen, but quite often I think it’s more out of mercy than nastiness. The words make it really nasty, but maybe my cherubic soul makes it more difficult for the audience.
You will always prefer to work with a kind soul who can play badly rather than with a bad person who is just a terrible actor.
Of course, on the set it’s easier.
There’s a scene at the beginning of the movie that’s almost completely silent and we just see Harper exploring the natural world and then becoming afraid of his surroundings. Without going into details, I will say that you do appear in this scene, but you are also kind of present there. What did this scene mean to you?
We are very lucky to see Jessie playing this role because I think she could carry a whole movie of silence with her. Having those 12 minutes without lines, I think it allows us to really immerse ourselves in Harper, her history and who she is, and also see her against the elements.
The film is a kind of gradual fusion of event and interpretation. The way it gets more hallucinogenic and crazy towards the end is the sense of momentum that builds from these interactions that she has. Therefore, you should give her a chance to breathe and try to remember herself before you see provocations or how she is forced to react in order to protect herself.
As a woman watching the film – and I’ve seen it in reviews written by women – I felt Harper’s horror on a very concrete level, because I know what it means or what it’s like to be alone in a house or be forced to search behind you when you walk alone. I can understand why it would be inwardly terrifying to realize that you are the only woman for miles.
How did you try to understand this feeling, and how do you think Alex understood it?
It was in the script and we knew about the scoop that Alex was writing about, but we also had two weeks of mostly chatting before we started filming, most of which was just me, Alex and Jesse sitting in his father’s living room. . talking about our personal experience. A lot was learned from the script, what it provoked in us and what it inspired.
I think we always knew that this film was about Harper and her experience after the traumatic event at the end of what we consider to be the abusive phase of her relationship. All her interactions are viewed through the prism of this.
I don’t think the movie necessarily says, “Aren’t all men jerks?” but of course [an experience like that] may occur after a traumatic event. Is it how we are more sensitive to recurrence of trauma and therefore how can we protect ourselves after trauma? I think this is what we picked up and tried to bring to life.
Without going into details, I will say that the last scenes of the film are quite violent, and that you played the main role in these scenes. What was the process like for you, because I read that it took a week to shoot, which is quite a long time to go through all this.
It was an unseasonably cold April, and when the Green Man showed up, the make-up took seven and a half hours. So, you have already completed the working day before the working day began. But I think you can just sit down and close your eyes, that’s all right.
I realized that as the week went on, the treats that were offered to me got better and better, which meant that there was clearly a sense of guilt on the part of the producers for what they had put me through.
Last Question: People Really Loved Our flag means deaththat you were a part of. What do you think about the reaction to the show? I would say, “But your characters can’t come back for a second season,” but given what we’ve just been talking about, you never know for sure. You are a multifaceted person.
Exactly. They might have triplets, who knows?
I had a great time doing this. It was so incredibly strong and also a great cast. It was really, really fun to watch each character over time because I was doing one of those parts where you come in and out. You work one day a week or two days a week here and there, but everyone else seems to be working all the time, so I feel a little guilty. But I saw how they understand their characters and how the dynamics develop within the crew as the film progresses. So I thought it was great.
It’s so open and inclusive. I was very excited, especially for [creator David Jenkins], obviously, but also for the rest of the cast, simply because of how much it seemed to resonate with people. It hasn’t been shown here in the UK yet so it all reflects what I’m hearing but I’m delighted that it did so well and found a place in people’s hearts.
Credit: www.wired.com /