we still kill the old way 2“They don’t write them like this any more, they really don’t” says a grinning Ian Ogilvy, sitting back casually in his dressing room on the set of Sacha Bennett’s dark crime thriller We Still Kill the Old Way. The actor, now in his 70s, once starred alongside the likes of Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis in Death Becomes Her, and Christopher Plummer and Orson Welles in Waterloo – yet the talented performer admits that work tends to dry up, in what can be a shrewd and unforgiving business.

“Men and women of my age don’t work that much any more, and in Hollywood, we work even less,” he said. “So I’ve done other things – I’ve been writing books, plays, I teach, I direct – I’ve found alternative ways of making a living. Which was lucky, because the business dries up for you. If you rely on acting at my age, you’re fucked, frankly. So when something like this comes along it’s so refreshing and incredibly rare. Being number one on the call-sheet is nice, too. I haven’t been number one on the call-sheet since 1978.”

Ogilvy plays the lead role of Richie in the forthcoming production – which wrapped within the past two weeks. Producer Jonathan Sothcott described the narrative to us, in this somewhat unique feature film – that allows more seasoned, experienced actors the chance to take centre stage once again.

“We Still Kill the Old Way is about a gangster called Charlie Archer, he’s out one night and he’s left the pub and he hears a girl screaming down an alley,” Sothcott continued. “He goes down to investigate and he finds her being attacked by a horrible, feral gang. He interferes, they challenge him and he challenges them back and they rip him to pieces and kill him. His brother Richie, played by Ian Ogilvy, has retired to the Costa Del Crime and he hears about and so comes back to London to put his old firm together, and they set out to the streets and dispense their own kind of old school justice.”

Given the cinematic stomping ground of this revenge plot thriller – it’s somewhat inevitable that the cast – which also boasts the likes of James Cosmo, Alison Doody and Steven Berkoff, were able to return to a, let’s say, more hands-on approach to performing. However Ogilvy admits that it can be rather dangerous when handling real-life weapons.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve beaten to death somebody hanging upside down with a pair of brass knuckles,” he said. “I shot another chap in the chest with a double barrelled sawn-off shotgun, and was quite rude to a third person. It’s been many years since I’ve done any of that – so that was good. The gun is loaded with blanks, but massive blanks which you have to wear earplugs for. Also, the blank itself can kill you – people on Hollywood movies have been killed with blanks. They’re very dangerous things. “

Ogilvy wasn’t the only actor to feel somewhat apprehensive when dealing with guns – as upcoming star Red Madrell – who plays one of the film’s leading antagonists in DK, also explains her own experience handling weapons.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever handled a gun. I play a lot of XBOX so I felt this would be like second nature to me, but it wasn’t anything like that. My heart was racing. I didn’t know they were real at first!”

Interestingly, DK was initially written as a male character, yet in spite of Madrell taking on the role, little changed about the role – and it’s one she revelled in. “The lines haven’t changed, everything was exactly the same, but the sex had changed. So as you can imagine, she’s a girl who can easily blend in with boys. She’s abrupt, very aggressive. She’s cold, she’s callous, for a woman to be in a gang, she has to be harder than the boys, and unaffected. So you just see her go through different variations of nasty throughout the whole film without any redeeming features at all. It’s been great fun to play. I’ve always played the nice girl next door. I’m always the moral compass of every story that gets told around me.”

When tackling a role of this ilk, you imagine it may be something of a challenge for an actor to get their head around the role, and embody somebody so callous – yet Madrell tells us that she took inspiration from a set of circumstances that took place in her own life.

“I’m basing this character on two girls I got jumped by. I was just going to go and watch Hot Fuzz for the second time in a row, and these two girls just hit my friend for no reason, and carried on walking. I knew instantly they were unhinged and there was something off about them. I really remember the faces of these girls – silent, very still, not giving anything away. Almost grinning, and enjoying watching me trying to talk my way out of a confrontation. At least now light does come out of a bad situation because I can draw on that in a good experience. So if they’re out there, then thank you!”

“It’s been one of the easiest characters to play, which is quite scary! But that’s because I have based her whole life on one thing – that she will do what is best for herself. In every situation. If it doesn’t benefit her, she won’t do it.”

we still kill the old way 1Though you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the production sounds rather bleak and unrelentingly so – director Bennett explained to us that he had made a conscious decision to try and lighten up the screenplay.

“Before my draft came into play, the script was very bleak all the way through, and what happens there, if you watch a film that’s consistently bleak, the audience become desensitised and start switching off,” he said. “You need a rise and fall throughout. The audience need a release and an escape, and then you can hit them with something dark and bleak again. Even the most hardcore horror fans need those moments of comedy and relief, to prepare themselves for the next wave of whatever onslaught you’re giving them.”

Though Bennett was certainly at ease on set, with an evident camaraderie amongst the filmmakers, through to the crew and actors – as with any film, there are always challenges.

“The two biggest challenges, which face any filmmaker, are always the same, regardless of what film you’re working on – which is that there is never enough time, and there is never enough money. You could be making a 200 million dollar movie and have a year to film it, and you’d still get to two days before you’re supposed to wrap, and think, bollocks, I need another 50 million to blow the sun up or whatever. They are always the two hurdles that you face.”

He must have done a pretty good job however, as Sothcott was quick to praise his director too, while also offering some kind words to the cast he had managed to collate. “Although this is dark, it’s a little more like a caper, Sacha has brought a wonderful light touch to it,” he said. “But it’s helped by a dream cast. Every day it’s a pleasure to come to work on this movie. Listening to the amount of anecdotes. You’ve got James Cosmo in one room, Ian Ogilvy in another, Alison Doody, Christopher Ellison, Steven Berkoff… Literally, it’s like going through all of my favourite movies and picking my best characters and putting them in one film.”

It seems that the aforementioned movies were an inspiration to this producer, who feels at home in the revenge genre – particularly given a previous endeavour of his was the Danny Dyer starring Vendetta. “Revenge is my favourite genre to be in,” he claims. “I grew up in the 80s watching stuff like Death Wish, Above the Law, Out for Justice – those intense, urban revenge movies. They still work. We all love Harry Brown, we all love Taken – we love that idea. We all watch and think, what would I do? Of course we can’t do it in real life, so we have to watch it in movies.”

Talking of Danny Dyer – the regular collaborator of Sothcott’s was always unlikely to be cast in this production, given he falls in between the demographics of our conflicting gangs. So, Sothcott came up with a plan b… “When he started on Eastenders, I thought, how am I going to keep making Danny Dyer movies? So I thought I’d get his daughter Dani Dyer in instead – perfect!”

Though Dani Dyer is one of the more younger members of cast, director Bennett admitted that it was the chance to direct a more experienced crowd which initially drew him in to the project. “It was the selling point for me – that there were four older statesmen, shall we say, versus the youth. I knew with it came to casting that it would be really interesting. I knew we’d have to find some interesting people. Ian was one of the names that was suggested, and we thought, we’ll never get him, he lives in California, he’s enjoying a lovely life over there and we thought it would be impossible. But thankfully, he liked the script and he enjoyed the way I wanted to take the character.”

Such a sentiment was echoed by Sothcott also. “For a gentleman of a certain age, Ian is incredibly handsome! All the girls heart’s skip a beat when he walks past. He’s got this wonderful deep voice like Roger Moore which is brilliant, and he just looks the absolute dog’s bollocks. He also has this authority, and it can be difficult to find actors with that gravity.”

Well, we’re now looking terribly forward to seeing what Mr. Ogilvy has in store for us, and, as the man says himself, who knows where it may lead.

“It might revive one’s flagging career, you never know,” he finished.

We Still Kill the Old Way will be released through Anchor Bay in late 2014.