Welsh thriller The Li­brary Sui­cides: one ac­tor, two roles.

Welsh di­rec­tor Eu­ros Lyn has worked on some of the big­gest crime TV shows, in­clud­ing Sherlock, Happy Val­ley and Broad­church. Upon the re­lease of his de­but film, The Li­brary Sui­cides, he dis­cusses shoot­ing the re­venge thriller in his na­tive lan­guage…


How did you get in­volved with a film adap­ta­tion of Fflur Dafydd’s best­selling Welsh-lan­guage novel, Y Llyfrgell?

Fflur con­tacted me. She was think­ing about turn­ing it into a film, which I was re­ally ex­cited by be­cause she had writ­ten some­thing that was very cin­e­matic in the first place. So we were soon try­ing to work out how to con­dense her epic, sprawl­ing novel — with its many char­ac­ters, set across a long times­pan — into some­thing as suc­cinct as a movie.

In the film, Catrin Ste­wart plays the twins, Ana and Nan – tech­ni­cally, how dif­fi­cult was it to shoot that?

There’s the tech­ni­cal chal­lenge, es­pe­cially on a tight bud­get, of hav­ing the same ac­tor play­ing two char­ac­ters within a sin­gle shot. Es­sen­tially, you’re glu­ing to­gether two takes with an in­vis­i­ble seam down the mid­dle. But ac­tu­ally the hard­est thing is for the ac­tor. Catrin had to play these twin sis­ters who, though they’re ge­net­i­cally iden­ti­cal, are – in terms of char­ac­ter – pro­foundly dif­fer­ent to one an­other. So when you’re shoot­ing, you do three takes with her play­ing Ana, and then she has about two min­utes to put her­self into a very dif­fer­ent mind­set, to do a take as the other char­ac­ter.

How im­por­tant was it to se­cure the ac­tual lo­ca­tion of the story, the Na­tional Li­brary of Wales in Aberys­t­wyth?

Well, with­out it we wouldn’t have had a film. Fflur wrote the novel while she was study­ing for her PHD, sat at the desks in the Na­tional Li­brary of Wales. All the places she wrote about in the novel are real parts of the Li­brary.

Af­ter we fin­ished the script, we took it to the li­brary and said, “This is film we’d like to make. Can you let us in there? And by the way we have no money, what do you think?” They were ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. They gave us pretty much the run of the place. There are an in­cred­i­ble num­ber of pre­cious things in there, so to have a big, clumsy, oafish film crew stomp­ing about… bless them! In the film, we have cer­tain scenes of, shall we say, de­struc­tion, so that had to be ne­go­ti­ated very del­i­cately. No smoke!

Your TV work in­cludes Sherlock,

Doctor Who and Broad­church. Was your de­but film dif­fer­ent in scale?

Tele­vi­sion in Bri­tain is in­cred­i­bly well sup­ported. It has a fan­tas­tic in­fra­struc­ture and the scale of the tele­vi­sion we make is enor­mous. It sells to the whole world – we make stuff that ev­ery­one wants to watch. Shoot­ing a film like this, in just three weeks… even though the story is epic, and it con­tains great, grand drama, the re­sources that we had were rel­a­tively lim­ited. So there was a change but it was the op­po­site of what most peo­ple would have ex­pected.

Is it im­por­tant that films like this are made in the Welsh lan­guage?

Welsh is my first lan­guage – it’s the lan­guage I was brought up to speak, it’s the lan­guage I speak at home with my part­ner, it’s my cul­ture. If we hadn’t made this in Welsh, it would be a pro­foundly dif­fer­ent film. I think we say things in the film that could never, ever be said in an­other lan­guage. And that’s very im­por­tant.


Di­rec­tor Eu­ros Lyn ( far left) on-set.

“No smoke!” Catrin Ste­wart ( Doctor Who,

Mis­fits) plays the twins.

The Li­brary Sui­cides is now avail­able on DVD.

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