RISING STAR DOMHNALL GLEESON INTERVIEWED!
Young Irish star Domhnall Gleeson may not be a household name quite yet, but he’s certainly going about it the right way. The son of Brendan, an Irish screen luminary who’s been involved in more than his fair share of Hollywood efforts, Domhnall ( pronounced Doe- nal) is certainly well placed to make a career for himself, but he hasn’t been relying on his father’s sway to forge a path to the top. In his career to date, Gleeson can note turns in Harry potter, Anna Karenina, About Time, Dredd and Never Let Me Go, and then there’s the small matter of a new trilogy in a little franchise called Star Wars, in which he’s also appearing. Before any of that, though, he’s turning his hand to sci- fi once again, in the directorial debut of Alex Garland, the screenwriter behind movies including 28 Days Later and its sequel 28 Weeks Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd. Ex Machina launches in Canada on April 10th, but ahead of that, we had the opportunity to catch up with one of Hollywood’s fastest rising stars to chat about the project, as well as some of the other things he’s got on the go right now…
TSI: I really enjoyed my advance screening of the film. It’s nice to see a proper smart sci- fi film! DG: Thanks! Yeah, it’s exactly that really. Alex was saying recently that there’s not a lot of real adult drama. I know “real adult drama” sounds like something you watch in a hotel on your own late at night [ laughs], and drama sounds kinda boring, but… you know… dramatic stuff. In a way it feels like a 70s film or something like that, even though they wouldn’t have been able to make it the same way in the 70s. I was very, very happy to be a part of it from beginning to end. TSI: You’ve done a lot of sci- fi in your career so far, is that intentional? DG: It’s not a conscious thing, but I guess the scripts that make me forget about everything going on around me and focus on the page often have a sci- fi element to them. It definitely tends to be the kind of material I’m drawn to for sure. TSI: You’ve said in the past that Alex Garland may be the best scriptwriter working today. What is it about his script work that grabs you? DG: They’re so tight. There’s not a word wasted. Those dialogue scenes with Ava, you read 7 pages of them in 2 minutes. It’s easy to read because it’s so well written, but then you realize the depth behind the words and you keep digging and there’s more there to be discovered. He’s a master. Nobody writes a page- turner like him. The twists make sense - they’re not forced - and you get a movie with twists that work. He’s just brilliant with working an audience I think.
TSI: There’s something very visceral about it as well. It’s a softer way of doing this kind of film, but there’s never anything soft about his films... DG: I think that’s Alex’s personality as well. He’s a kind, generous, funny man, but he’s also straightforward and very direct. He knows what he likes and gets it quickly if he can. His films are the same; there’s no messing around. It’s in at the deep end and there’s no kindness offered along the way, it’s like “this is what’s happening now”, and I think it’s a very intelligent way to treat an audience. TSI: Did you do much research for your role as a programmer? DG: I did bits and pieces so I actually understood what I was talking about. If I said those lines not knowing what I was talking about I don’t think anyone would believe me. Alex had done a lot of the research already so talking to him, watching documentaries, doing a little reading and talking to some coders was really helpful for me. TSI: Did the concept art for something like Ava come with the script, or did that come later on? DG: I asked Alex for some images early on and he gave me a few bits and pieces that I glued into my script. They really did an incredible job with her. Alicia ( Vikander, the actress who plays Ava) was covered in the mesh you see in the promotional artwork all the way up around her head, and it really looked like her face had been recreated and planted on top of this mesh. They’d already done a lot of the work for us, and I’m really happy about that because it definitely helped when we were shooting. TSI: Does Alex’s move to the director’s chair make you want to make try directing a full feature yourself? DG: It’s not that this would make me want to do it; this would make me want to act in more great movies. But there’s that joke that says that every actor should have a t- shirt that says “What I really want to do is direct” you know [ laughs]. I do find directing fun though. I directed a music video last summer and I work on sketches and stuff to keep myself busy. I enjoy it. TSI: Alex has said that he sides with the bots in Ex Machina. What is your take on that? DG: Alex is very pro- technology. He isn’t scared of it in the same way some people are - the unknown and the lack of control aren’t things that terrify him in the way they do others. He thinks that if it’s evolution then it will happen, and he’s probably right. I’d be a little more conservative than him in that respect, though, I think. TSI: You’ve worked on some amazing projects, but what’s your dream job? DG: In a way, I’ve already done it. I worked on The Walworth Farce with my dad and brother. I may never do a job that perfect again. And then, of course, Ex Machina is coming out in cinemas soon, and this is the sort of movie I’ve always wanted to be in. I’ll keep on trying to work with brilliant directors and writers, and play different characters. Spreading out like that is what interests me now, but I’m so proud of the stuff I’ve done. Ex Machina is a really good film and it’d be greedy to ask for more than that. TSI: Finally, could you describe your Star Wars experience in one word?
DG: Secret! [ laughs] Sci- fi flick Ex Machina starring Domhnall Gleeson hits theatres across Canada on April 10th.