Based on the hugely successful video game franchise, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D takes us back to the eponymous town, a place where nightmares are a terrifying reality. Bean plays the role of Harry, a vigilant father to Heather (Adelaide Clemens) who is drawn into the surreal, alternate reality that is Silent Hill.
Bean discusses what it’s like to get involved in the horror genre, and what it is about this particular franchise that allows for it to stand out from the crowd, while also telling us of his joy at working alongside director Michael J. Bassett.
So tell us about Silent Hill: Revelation – what’s different between this one and the first?
It’s some years on and my daughter has become 18 now and they’re just trying to keep their lives together after the horrific experiences of the last event which, including my wife, saw us all drawn to Silent Hill. They just have to keep moving along, moving home and changing their name and things like that, so they aren’t pursued by anyone. And my character is just trying to bring up his daughter as a young, teenager trying to go to school, and just being a very vigilant father. But she’s obviously growing up and she meets a guy and goes to a different school and everyone thinks she’s a bit weird, which she is. The guy she is with discovers some stuff about her and weird abstract drawings and symbols and writings in her bedroom and he obviously knows there’s something going on and that she has been drawn to a darker side and then it goes on from there really, and he tries to save her and bring her back.
Despite entering this quite disturbing fantasy world that is Silent Hill, at the heart of the film there are family elements, do you think that helps make this film relatable?
Yeah, you’re right it does, it’s not just people getting sliced up and this and that, it’s that fixed unit – the mother, father and daughter and you care for them having got to know them. It’s a father-daughter relationship and she falls for someone called Vincent and things change around, but that is the nucleus – the family.
You seem to have a more prominent role in this sequel than you did in the first. Were you always aware when making a first that there was to be a second lined up?
No, I wasn’t really, I wasn’t even very familiar with Silent Hill and the video games or anything, so it’s been a bit of an eye opener for me, but it’s still going strong and there are a lot of people out there who feel very passionately towards the game and I feel we have translated that into film quite well, and truthfully.
The Silent Hill franchise does have a big, established fan base, do you feel a sense of pressure knowing there is already an expectant fan base out there?
Not detrimentally so, in a positive way perhaps. I don’t think you can let that affect your performance or where you want to go with it, you’ve got to portray something as truthfully as possible, round the character out and make him a good, three-dimensional character and you know, that seemed to go down well the last time, the fans seemed to be quite excited about the film and I think it will be the same this time hopefully, but you’ve got just to go for it as you feel, as you should, rather than have any great weight of expectation on you.
This particular film is based on Silent Hill 3, in terms of the video games…
Is it really? I didn’t know that.
Yeah, Silent Hill 2 is a completely separate storyline, and 3 carries on from where the first one finishes. Anyway, have you played any of the games at all?
No I haven’t, but my kids did. A few years ago, they’re older now. But they showed me and it was great, I didn’t know there was all this behind it. But it kind of runs parallel with it and we’ve transported it onto screen and Michael Bassett the director has really captured every little moment, he’s tried to get everything into this, it’s very dense and full of images.
It’s something of an ensemble cast, as joining you on set are Malcolm McDowell and Carrie-Anne Moss, amongst others – and although this is a horror movie, it seems to be a higher standard of horror movie.
Oh yeah it is, I think it’s quite a classic piece. What’s been done with it is incredible – I was only on it for a few weeks – but to see what Michael’s got in there, he’s obviously very well versed in the history of Silent Hill and I think he’s a big fan, so that was great from the start as he knew exactly what he wanted to do and he loved the game so he is obviously going to make it work on screen, and he’s done that.
So did Michael’s passion for the project emanate off him to the cast?
Yeah it was infectious because he was very excited, and he was a nice guy but very level headed and he just got on with it and knew exactly what he wanted to do. That inspired us in some sense to have a real go at it.
As for the two younger members of the cast Adelaide Clemens and Kit Harington – as relative newcomers how bright a future do you see for them both?
Good, yeah. I worked with Kit on Game of Thrones where he played my son, so that was quite weird seeing him in this playing my daughter’s boyfriend [laughs]. And Adelaide is a charming young girl and incredibly talented, so I thought she was stunning.
Silent Hill isn’t really your typical horror…
It’s not all blood and guts and smashing, it’s more suspense and thriller. There is blood and gore, but there is more to it, it’s got everything that you’re afraid of I suppose. And you can’t quite put your finger on why it’s so scary and why it’s disturbing and upsetting, because it’s weird, surreal and you can’t figure it out.
And it has religious undertones to it as well…
Yeah it has, the Alessa character, and there are characters almost like nuns, wearing black masks, like satanic versions.
One of the most memorable aspects to Silent Hill is the score by Akira Yamaoka – and he mixes the music for the film as well, how helpful do you think it is to have the same man on board?
That’s great because he is really good. I didn’t actually know that either, but I saw the film last week with someone and we remarked on how good the music is and how it really enhanced the piece and plays an integral part of it.
The film has so many special effects in it – which of course are implemented in post-production – when you do see the finished product is it a surprise to you to see what has changed and been added?
Yeah because I didn’t see much of that, I spent most of my time in the house, so in an almost pedestrian way I didn’t see that side of the world – so I didn’t know what to expect and was very impressed by the CGI and effects, it’s really top class stuff.
The horror genre must be a very fun one to get involved in as an actor?
It’s good to watch it at the end when it’s finished and done, and you think, oh that’s it. Because it’s hard to picture it on set and it’s all CGI, you’re not actually seeing it, you know it’s going to be there at the end but you can’t see it.
So although being on set and behind-the-scenes of the film, are you still able to get scared by it when watching it back?
Yeah it makes me jump, out of my skin. Especially when find it’s in 3D – that’s great and works so well for this, it’s just perfect. It does make you jump out of your seat literally.
As an actor your career seems to have been formed between gritty realism like Cleanskin earlier this year, and then fantasy – such as this or the Lord of the Rings franchise – how differently to approach a role when based in a fantasy world or the real one?
I suppose the same way really, you just get as much information as you can and try and get familiar with it and feel part of it so that it’s not alien to you and feels natural. It’s the way I approach everything, whether it be Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones and then something like a gritty, contemporary drama, I think the approach is still the same. Just trying to get into the skin of the character and that’s what I always try to do. So the methods I use are not that different whatever I do.
Is there a type of genre you prefer?
I like historic films, I did a film called Black Death and I had to read all about it and the plague and that was interesting as it’s also educating at the same time. I read loads of books about it and although that wasn’t a fantasy it was real, the story was fictional. Yeah, that was good.
So my final question is the compulsory what are you doing next one… What can see you in coming soon?
I don’t think I have anything coming out after this. I’ll be working on a couple of things early next year but at the moment I’m not sure, this is it.. for now!
Silent Hill: Revelation is out tomorrow.