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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.

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