Irish actor Rupert Evans stars in a terrifying psychological thriller, “The Canal.” The stunning actor, along with the writer and director, Ivan Kavanagh, sat down with me in Chelsea, three blocks from my apartment. Of all the fantastic films I’ve seen during these past weeks of TFF preview press screenings, “The Canal” stands far above the rest.
Horrific thrillers are my favorite genre. I used to think that might be twisted, but the box office numbers show I am not alone in my love of the dark side. It is difficult, however, to find high-quality movies to petrify you. “The Silence of the Lambs” is at the top of my list. Number two is “The Exorcist.” And hats off to TV’s “True Detective” and “Hannibal.” Admittedly, there are at least a handful of additional top-notch creepers but it’s been a long time since I sat in a new, true nail-biter like this.
The movie was finished just in time to show at the festival and the actor and director flew in quick from Ireland. Then they hit the fabulous and exhausting TFF film circuit. Both were terribly jet-lagged when I spoke to them, but despite the lack of sleep they were clearly rocking out. The response to their film has been phenomenal, and they’re riding the wave. I’m hoping that a big studio picks it up for wide distribution, and fast. I want to see it again.
A: What are your favorite horror movies?
Rupert Evans: For me, “Jaws” and “Don’t Look Now.”
How did you view the ending of “The Canal” — psychological or supernatural?
Evans: As an actor you have a different view than your character, but I felt that David viewed his house with a supernatural element and that was what guided him down a twisted road that made him do certain things.
That was a very dark place you had to go to as an actor. Was it hard to shake off each day after filming?
Evans: To be honest with you it was the hardest movie. It was emotionally and physically draining. The way Ivan wrote the script, it demanded a constant level of intensity. So, every day we had to find that. If I dropped the level of intensity the film wouldn’t work. That was a real challenge and Ivan helped guide me. You know when you’re shooting the movie, the sound isn’t on, the noises and shadows aren’t there. Particularly in this sort of genre movie, the actor is really in the hands of the director who has an overview of what he’s trying to create. A lot of trust went into making this movie.
Ivan Kavanagh: There’s a scene where he’s filming something that is approaching him. One method we used was me talking behind the camera, saying, “It’s coming closer, closer, closer.” It’s like playing when you were a child. You have to use pure imagination. I would do it gradually and that really helped Rupert with the rhythm and that level of fear.
If a lesser actor played David, it could’ve collapsed into comedy watching David go mad. How did you decide on Rupert?
Kavanagh: I saw a lot of actors but none of them seemed right to me. I watched the film “Agora” that Rupert was in. There was one scene that really struck me. It was very unusual and a brilliant piece of acting. Then I talked to Rupert by Skype and saw he had the looks — the guy needed to be handsome — but he also needed to have a vulnerability and instant likability. Rupert had that. I knew the moment I spoke to him that it was right. I called my producer and said, “It’s Rupert.”
What’s next for you, Rupert?
Evans: I’m doing a second season of a BBC period drama, “The Secrets.” We’re filming right now and that’ll take me through June and July. I’m also reading scripts, so we’ll see what happens.
Are you well known where you live, as opposed to New York City, where I live?
Oh, I dunno. I’m very lucky I work.
C’mon, I mean do people recognize you and ask you for your autograph?
Yeah, from time to time.
You are so handsome. Have women thrown themselves at you?
[Laughs] No throwing of women. I’ve had a few odd letters, I cannot lie. But I suppose if I make people feel something, then that’s good.
Watch excerpts from this interview: