EIFF 2016: Dougray Scott interview
Predominantly known for his roles in action thrillers like Mission Impossible 2, Hitman and Taken 3, Dougray Scott’s impressive CV spans film and television both in the UK and in America. From Enigma to My Week with Marilyn, and Day of the Triffids to Desperate Housewives, Dougray Scott has been one of Scotland’s most successful actors of the past twenty years.
Most recently seen on screen in Fear the Walking Dead, he is currently in Edinburgh as part of the jury for the Best Documentary Feature Film prize at this year’s festival. He has also has a film at the festival – The ReZort – a modern and political take on the zombie survival thriller. We caught up with to talk about the film.
How are you enjoying the festival so far? Have you managed to see any films?
I’ve been watching movies all day. I’ve been watching documentaries because I’m on the jury for that prize. That’s why I’m here in Edinburgh really.
I think I saw you at the Odeon this morning
Yeah I was watching the Gary Numan documentary (Gary Numan: Android in La La Land) it was very good.
I really enjoyed The ReZort. That post-post apocalypse theme is not something we have seen before in the zombie genre. Very Michael Crichton-esque
Yeah that’s what it reminded me of, Westworld and Jurassic Park. And I felt the parallels were there with what’s going on in the world you know. The writer was obviously thinking about the refugee crisis and how we deal with that issue in our society, and how human life just becomes fodder. And you know it’s on the news, but it’s so unreal and not part of our lives and we distance ourselves from it.
Tell me a little about the character you play in the film
I play Archer, and the interesting thing about him is that in the script you actually understand why he’s there, but in the film he (director Steve Barker) has cut it out, so I don’t know why he did that. But what you do get from him – and what attracted me to him – is that incredible enigmatic quality, because he doesn’t actually say very much. I’ve only got ten lines in the whole movie. And I’m in it a lot. What I love about playing someone like that is it’s all about looks and behaviour and history and where he comes from, and he’s invariably someone people want to follow. He’s kind of heroic without wanting to be heroic because he’s got his own survival instinct. I really liked that sort of not quite understanding who this guy was, and that makes people incredibly attractive, a lot more enigmatic than I am that’s for sure. So when you get to play someone like that it’s quite good fun.
He’s a very mysterious character. Did you and Steve (Barker – the director) ever discuss what Archer’s backstory might be?
Well it was in the script, but then it wasn’t in the movie, so that was his choice to take it out. I don’t know why. But you kind of understood it was to do with his wife and his kids and what had happened. He’s quite obviously not shooting zombies because he enjoys it, he’s doing it because of some insatiable need, a sort of addiction. He’s like an addict trying to work through his addiction and it’s something that he feels he’s got to do and he’s not really enjoying it. So yeah it was there and it was taken out. What did Steve say?
He mentioned that the film was edited very tightly to keep the pace up, and to serve the genre elements
Well yeah it does lick along doesn’t it? And it’s an entertaining film, and the action stuff is done really well. But I also like that one zombie character, the girl who’s kind of humanised by her actions, cause she remembers the person who created the rezort. She’s got a humanity and a memory, and we may try to zombify them but they are still people with a soul.
How did you first get involved in the project?
They sent me the script and said “do you want to do it”, and offered me a massive amount of money and I said yes! (Laughs). You know I liked the script, I genuinely liked the story. I thought the script was really good and liked the character, and you know they were filming in Mallorca, and I thought okay I’ll go there again, it’s a very nice island! So yeah, that’s kind of why. The day I read it, I thought yeah, why not?
How was the shoot?
It was good yeah. Mallorca’s a beautiful island. The weather was really good and we had a nice time
Was there any major preparation you had to do for the role? You looked very capable with that sniper rifle
I’ve done a lot of stuff like that before, so I kind of know my way around weapons. The guys who were doing the rifles were terrific, so we trained with them, familiarising yourself with the rifle, lots of practicing again and again, loading the rifle and clearing it if it becomes jammed. You just have to do your normal weapons training. I enjoy it, I mean I’m not an advocate for weapons at all, especially not after recent events, but yeah from a filming point of view it’s quite fun.
What will we be seeing you in next?
I’ve got a film coming out called London Town that was at Cannes – a film about a kid and his dad growing up in London in the late 70s. I’m divorced and my wife has gone off to live on a commune. She keeps sending the son stuff, and she sends him a tape of The Clash, and it changes his life. The dad has given up his aspirations to become a rock star so he tunes pianos in his little music shop and drives a taxi. The son tries to help the dad because they’ve got no money and they’ve got all these bills, so he drives the taxi for him, and when he’s driving it he meets Joe Strummer, and he agrees to come and play a benefit gig for his dad’s shop. It’s a sweet story about a kid coming of age and discovering The Clash, and the effect of music on people’s lives. So yeah, I’m in it, Natascha McElhone plays my wife, Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Joe Strummer.