Is there something that drew you to play Brian in The Quiet Ones?
Yeah, I mean the character himself is very similar to my understanding, and a part of me wanted to experience and play someone quite close to home, if you know what I mean. The fact that he’s a non-believer at the beginning of the film and the supernatural, but as he kind of goes along this hellish journey, he gets more involved, more curious, to the point where there’s something about him that’s drawn to it more and more – be it the test subject, or the actual subject of the supernatural. I think it’s something that would happen to me if I would experience a little bit; I’d want to know more, and I think he gets drawn to that. So his journey itself was definitely something that was very attractive, but also the fact that I’d never shot a horror film before and I wanted that experience was something that drew me to the project. To work with Hammer was another one; Jared Harris was another. You know, there were many, many reasons for me to get involved.
You mentioned you hadn’t done a horror film before. Are you a horror fan at all?
I’d say I’m a big horror fan. I don’t scare easily, but I do love to be scared – do you know what I mean? It’s one of those things that occasionally something will get you, or there’s a film that’ll make you sit on the edge of your seat and when you finish watching it, you’ll still be thinking about it and it kind of emotionally, physically, mentally scars you. And most recently, like Paranormal Activity films and The Blair Witch Project, things like that are sort of shot through the first-person, really kind of… I don’t know, personally, they really make me feel that I’m a part of that experience as well, you know, as well as an audience member. I obviously knew this was going to be shot in a very similar manner; and also, the most, not the most recent Paranormal Activity but the one that was set in the past, was one that really plucked my heart strings. I was like, oh my God… because the technology’s lacking, you kind of believe it more, you know. And I think the moment you can have a mobile phone, and there’s going to be someone close to you, you kind of lose interest – I lose interest a little bit. But films that are like that, where the technology’s lacking and it’s very sort of simple and minimalistic, it takes you back to the old-school Hammer Horror movies which are, you know, in their prime then I think.
Do you have a favourite Hammer film?
If I’m honest, I’m not overly familiar with the old Hammer movies. But you know, what I really, really loved was Let Me In most recently, and also The Woman in the Black. But both of them changed everything. I feel with Let Me In, there was a cute little love story despite the fact that she was a vampire, and that whole nonsensical kind of world really interested me. It being two kids really made it more scary, I think, and then Woman in Black I think was amazing – not the best thing I’ve seen Daniel Radcliffe do – but very different to the whole Harry Potter franchise. I really enjoyed his performance in that, and what they did with that was some very jumpy, scary moments.
Going onto your career at the moment, which is seeing some big progress, you were nominated for Best Male Newcomer at the Empire Awards a few years ago, and in 2012 at the Teen Choice Awards you were nominated as well for Best Breakout Star. But Catching Fire last year has obviously been your biggest moment so far; do you get stopped in the street? Do you get recognised in places?
Well, it’s something that’s quite important to me and The Quiet Ones is the first sort of real difference in my physical appearance, if you know what I mean; what I try to do with each film is trying to go through as some sort of transformation, morph into somebody else, and I think that it’s important for every actor to really kind of find a new identity – not to completely change as a person, but I just mean physically to alter yourself in some way. ‘Cause not every character looks the same, you know, especially if someone’s… I think drama school’s the introduction to that. It’s like, I’m playing an eighty year-old today and I’m playing a sixteen year-old tomorrow. But there’s no way you should look the same, so physically you try to change yourself. And I think I’ve been lucky with wigs and all sorts of make-up that I’ve looked very different from part to part. I’d say at present, ’cause we’re currently filming Mockinjay, and I’m sort of physically very similar to how I was in Catching Fire. For the people that have seen Catching Fire, potentially might notice me – but I think I keep my head down (laughs) and try not to think about it. But nothing’s drastically changed, I’d say.
Is it mentally taxing at all to go from one, not one extreme, but one very different physical appearance to another?
Erm, again I don’t whether due to drama school I felt like I was constantly changing day-to-day; I personally find it quite easy to morph into something else. But you know, I imagine some people would struggle with that, but I enjoy finding the new physicality of a character – it’s something that I’ve sort of embraced. Ever since I was a kid, I used to do impressions and try to be someone else, and you do that from literally five second to five second periods. So yeah, I never really overly struggle, I don’t think.
Going back to your character Brian in The Quiet Ones, he is a very reserved character. Is he closer to you what you think you are in real life, or is there a character you’ve played in a movie so far that you feel you have an affinity with?
Yeah, I did a romantic comedy last year. The thing that I can never really relate to in a character that’s set in the past [The Quiet Ones is set in 1974], I’ve never lived that world. I wouldn’t know right from wrong back then, or I wouldn’t know how to use a camera. I literally had to spend weeks kind of learning how to use a camera set in the seventies, and how to edit film and stuff like that. So that was quite a stretch, in that sense, despite the fact that there were similarities between our personalities – at the same time, I think he’s made a few choices that I personally wouldn’t agree with. There was a romantic comedy that I did last year that was set in the here and now [Rosie], and it’s the first time I’ve ever done it and I definitely had a lot of fun doing it playing myself, quite literally; I had my own accent, my own haircut, my own hair colour for a change. I invested in that a lot, and found that very easy, you know, get lost in if you know what I mean.
You’re obviously still a very young actor; is there anything, or something in particular you’d like to achieve maybe before a certain age?
I mean, I think every actor would like to be recognised… with an Oscar (laughs). As someone who people are interested in working with. I think for me, what’s important is the world, especially people within the industry, recognise that I am not a one-trick pony, and I have a lot more to give. It’s been one of those things that I’ve found difficult to kind of get into, you know; it’s difficult because a lot of directors think that I’m just a romantic lead, you know. I don’t consider myself an attractive guy, and someone who should be playing that, you know; I think there’s a lot more to me that meets the eye. I’d like the opportunity to kind of prove that, and I definitely feel I’m getting to that point, having done not only The Quiet Ones which is very different to anything I’ve done before, and then a romantic comedy, to then doing a film called Posh which is like a sort of black comedy stroke drama. I mean it’s not funny, but I think as an outsider of that world that they live in is quite hilarious. I’ve had the opportunity to explore different elements of my character, my personal character, and I hope that the world relates to that and sees that. I’d like to just play more interesting, complex characters and challenge myself in different ways, basically. And I’d like to start tomorrow (laughs).
Going back again to The Quiet Ones, you mentioned you actually did operate the cameras…?
Well yeah, obviously I was carrying the camera, when you see through the camera’s eye sometimes. But what I found most interesting, there’s a scene right at the beginning of the film where I’m editing film and I had to learn how to edit films – where to cut the reel, where to add it on, stick it down, all that stuff. That was hugely interesting. But then they also allowed me to actually handle the modern cameras occasionally, because the cinematographer wanted to get an idea of how I – my character – would react to certain things. So he’d watch me do a couple of takes, so if something made me jump, [they’d see] how I’d move.
I hope you’re credited on this film for camera work.
(Laughs) I don’t think they’d use anything I shot, because I couldn’t tell, because there’s like a frame obviously, but beyond the frame you can still see what’s going on around that if that makes sense. So I think that most of the time, I thought that was still on camera – so I was cutting people’s heads off (laughs). I definitely didn’t think I would use any of that footage. But I thought it was interesting for me to get an understanding of how the modern camera works, and in fact being behind the camera a lot and seeing through the eyes of the director a lot of the time, occasionally the director would ask my opinion on things, saying, ‘in your opinion do you think this is more important or that more important’ – it was a huge learning curve for me, behind the camera. And long may it continue, and I hope I have the opportunity one day to kind of get behind the camera and actually direct something.
It could be the start of something beautiful.
Hopefully! Fingers crossed.
The Quiet Ones is released on April 10th.