In-FearFollowing on from our interview with In Fear’s director Jeremy Lovering, HeyUGuys were privileged to have the opportunity to speak with the films leading man Iain De Caestecker. From reminiscing about shooting short films with his brother, the conversation quickly spiralled into a discussion of confronting the unconventional, acting on instinct, creating a study in fear and collaborating with an audience and watching himself In Fear.

Why a career in acting? Was there that one inspirational moment?

I don’t know if there was one specific moment, but I suppose it was when I was younger. My brother and I would watch movies and then make our own short films. They were pretty bad in hindsight but they were the kind of moments when we would watch them back and feel proud and excited. Those are the moments that made me want to act.

With no script In Fear goes against convention. Hitchcock believed the script was the blueprint for the movie and is where the film starts. Could you talk about confronting In Fear’s unconventional approach?

I suppose I was the same when I came into it. I knew it was going to be improvised because Jeremy improvised a few scenes in the audition process, and I’ve always found that quite exciting. Alice, Jeremy and I went into rehearsals and more than anything else we rehearsed the back story for our characters. Then once we started filming, day by day we figured out new things. There were moments where Alice and I would go back to our hotel at the end of the night and talk about what we thought was happening. We really didn’t know, and we were excited to find out every day as we got the new pages out or new thoughts for the scenes that we were going to be filming that day. It was an interesting way to shoot a thriller because in moments we were genuinely surprised, and in that sense there are times when you get a genuine reaction, which is sometimes the scariest part of the scares in these kinds of films.

Do you find there to be something special in the creative process when you are able to act on instinct; to act in the moment and cut out all of the preparation?

That’s definitely a big part of it. Jeremy was also very mindful about making Alice and I feel included in the story process by giving us a say, and making sure that we didn’t do things that we felt we wouldn’t do. He would also let us try anything, and even if we had an idea that he didn’t think was right he’d still let us try it out. So we always felt like there was nothing we couldn’t do, and that was a huge bonus for us when we were filming.

Speaking with Jon S. Baird recently he spoke of advice he received from Walter Hill about the need to let the actors make some choices of their own. Within the creative process you have to give the actors the freedom to shape things for themselves.

There has to be limitations I’m sure, but I suppose it is about being collaborative. Also if Jeremy had come to me and told me to do things a certain way then I would have done it because I trusted him that much. But as it turned out we were very lucky in the fact that Jeremy was open to trying anything. It was the same with Jon S. Baird when I worked with him. We had a rehearsal process before and there was a certain part of my character which was changed in the rehearsal process. It was great to have an amazing script, and to be able to give that up quickly is a really modest and incredible asset to have when you’re on set.

Film as an art form that incorporates a copious number of individuals, all of whom will channel their personal experiences into the role they are playing, regardless of whether director, writer or actor. Do you consider the auteur theory to be one undermined by the collaborative process, or one that retains its validity?

Some of the most amazing experiences I have had have been on film sets. It’s strange because when you are filming you are so detached from the outside world and from the life that you normally have. So it kind of becomes your world, and you end up forming a family. These are people who you get up with every morning and you see when you go back to your hotel. You have a drink with them at night, and they are kind of everything to you. You learn very quickly on set that no one person is more invaluable than another. It doesn’t matter what position you are holding, but you need everyone there, and everyone plays such a huge part.

The crew definitely work much longer hours than us actors, especially the director who always has to be on the ball and needs to know everything about the movie. In that respect you realise very quickly that you need to come in prepared, to give it your all, but to also come in with ideas and energy. Having ideas from everyone bouncing around is one of the best points. When we were extremely rigid and it didn’t feel right but you went along with it anyway, you discover that it doesn’t work as well. Sometimes the moments of brilliance in cinema or those moments for me personally are those moments of magic that no one can prepare for. It doesn’t always happen but when it does happen it’s brilliant.

What makes film so collaborative is that once completed you send it out there to discover an audience. You could make it thinking this is what we are saying; this is what it means and it offers this experience, but then the audience can potentially flip that on its head.

It’s true. I suppose when you approach something you try and say I’m doing this or I’m just trying to make the best thing that I can, because that’s all you can concentrate on. But of course there’s a side to you whenever you do something where you think I want people to see this, I want people to identify with it and I want people to enjoy it. Sometimes that can be over analysed and it can restrict you to do certain things or hold you back from trying anything new. In the later stages when you actually see the movie, there is a side to it where the experience you have was so thrilling that the movie in a sense no matter how much you love it, it is never going to live up to that experience. But the audience sees something completely different. They don’t know of all the things that went on, and it is difficult to be objective whenever you watch something back that you were involved in. No matter if you don’t like yourself in something; I’ve never watched a film I was in and walked away being satisfied, and not wanting to change something. I remember seeing In Fear and having this feeling where if I watched this movie and I didn’t know anything about it, but I just came in and watched it one day, I would have loved it. That was a nice feeling.

But at that point I don’t worry as much about what’s going to happen when the movie comes out. Maybe not everyone’s going to see this movie, but someone who will pick it up in a few years and is really going to enjoy it.

Having spoken with Jeremy he has an interest in fear, and by taking away the script it took away a certainty for you and Alice as well as the audience. By taking away the safety net he was able to create a realistic study of fear.

That’s it. Sometimes it’s scarier to hold the camera on someone’s reaction and see the fear in someone’s eyes rather than actually see the source of their terror. As long as you can believe that is sometimes genuine, then that makes it scarier. There were a lot of times where we would do a take and we would genuinely freak out because something would happen. Sometimes when we would have to do the take again afterwards it wouldn’t feel exactly the same for us, but we could use that technique for other takes and of course we filmed it chronologically which was amazing.

We would come in every day and start where we had left off, and once we got into the middle of filming everything started to happen. I suppose Alice and I were in a constant state of suspense. We were always looking over our shoulder and sometimes the scariest things would be when nothing happened but we thought something was coming. So we became suspicious of everything around us, and Jeremy created that atmosphere; he created that tension. We just didn’t know what was going to happen next, and whilst within that we were allowed to do anything we wanted, I suppose it just made everything a bit more genuine.

In Fear occupies a grey area wherein it is not a pure horror nor is it a pure thriller, but it is psychological. It seems to border the horror and thriller genres manifesting as a psychological horror or psychological thriller. Is it a good thing that you can’t say it’s one or the other?

Oh definitely; I’d call it psychological. One of the big things is Tom and Lucy’s relationship. They come into it at the early stages of the relationship, and it comes with all the baggage. They are both putting up fronts and putting on masks. Tom especially has quite a lot of bravado, but he’s a bit more hardened to the reality of the world, whilst Lucy is a bit more of a free soul, more spiritual. As the situation starts to get more intense they start to question each other. They are the only two people they have around, and there’s nothing else around them, and so they start to realise how much they don’t know each other. Also their real personalities start bleeding out into the forefront subconsciously, and it becomes claustrophobic, because after all it’s two people in a car. At the start almost trivial things are happening to them which they can’t explain, but they only have each other to go to for either security or as a means to accuse. Those were the scenes I most enjoyed, where we were sitting in a car for a couple of hours and we were having a conversation about where we were at that point. So I would definitely call it a psychological thriller.

In Fear is out on DVD and Blu-ray now. Read our review of the film here.