The Harsh Light of Day – Cast Interviews
I recently had the great delight of reviewing an excellent new little British movie, the horror/revenge thriller The Harsh Light of Day. And I was even more delighted to get the chance to ask the stars of this superb production, Dan Richardson and Giles Alderson a few questions...
What attracted you to this project?
Giles: It was a really easy project to like. I loved the script and the character of Infurnari was brilliant so after I talked with Ollie about his vision and how he he wanted to make it, it was a no-brainer.
Dan: I loved the script! Ollie created such a tight, intriguing story, I thought it was awesome and right from the start I was itching to play the character of Daniel Shergold. It was also the first time I had the opportunity to play a lead role in a feature film so it was a very exciting prospect!
In the world of low budget film making, shoots can often get a little difficult. How was the making of The Harsh Light of Day?
Giles: It was great. I never saw any problems. It was very professionally run. Emma Biggins who produced it really looked after me. All of the crew were great and for some it was their first movie but they really knuckled down and understood the process of film-making very quickly. I have to say they were all brilliant. I mainly had fun with the cast, enjoyed the peaceful surroundings of Dorset and came on and did my bit when required.
Dan: It had its challenges, but I think the key thing was that the whole team, cast and crew alike, were so committed to it that we just weren't going to let anything stand in our way. I guess from the perspective of the production, they'd have liked more money to do all they wanted to do, but from an actor's perspective it really made no difference. We all just had our characters to play and we were going to do that to the best of our ability regardless of anything else. All in all it was pretty fantastic on set all the time!
One of the things that impressed me with the movie is that Oliver's script is tremendously subtle - for example, we never once have the v-word spoken on screen. How challenging was it to convey so much of the story through pure (and brilliant may I say) physical performances?
Dan: Wow, thank you! You and my mum agree on that. That's two of you now! Very kind of you to say so. The way Ollie had written 'Daniel' to be so human throughout the story actually made it pretty easy for me. Even at the height of his inhuman behaviour, Daniel always stayed connected to his human side. I loved the way Ollie had taken the usual v-word clichés and turned them around. For my character, he'd even turned the whole dynamic around because at no point is Daniel fully bought-in to this whole alternative lifestyle. So really, thanks to great writing and directing, I just had to keep it as real and as human as possible.
Giles: That is very kind of you to say so. That is why, I believe, this stands up over other 'vampire' films. This is so much more than that. The fact that the v-word was never used is a huge bonus. It's about the possibilities of what that world could be, what it could bring and how different it is to everyday life. What the audience thinks that world is, vampires or otherwise. That is what is interesting and why this film has mass appeal. Daniel's transformation is truly brilliant and both Ollie and Dan deserve huge credit for making it work.
Like all good revenge stories, The Harsh Light of Day blurs moral boundaries and poses the audience with ethical questions. How would you describe your characters? Heroes, villains, anti-heroes?
Dan: Daniel is an anti-hero all the way. He just loves his wife and misses her desperately. All he wanted was a quiet, happy life with her. Everything he does is driven by that, even after she's gone. He's a good guy thrown into a bad situation.
Giles: Infurnari is a hero, no question! He saves Daniel from a life of misery. Whether you call what he does ethical or not, he's helping Daniel get revenge and giving him the choice to be able to do that or not. That's an amazing thing to be offered. How many of us would love to have had that opportunity in our past? But it's the consequences we have to face later that define us. If you had nothing left, nothing to live for, what would you choose? A hero is a good word but can be used in the wrong context. For Infurnari it's his way of life. He just is.
Both your characters are joining a huge pantheon of screen creatures of the nights. Were you particularly influenced by past portrayals of the undead?
Giles: There are some great films in this genre but I didn’t want Infurnari to be influenced by any other characters. He is so other-worldly, so hard to understand what is happening inside him that he needed to be a totally different entity. Ollie and I both agreed that Infurnari would not have feelings. Daniel's wheelchair bound depression would never happen in his world so there is no need for them. It was an amazing part to play in that respect.
Dan: Honestly, none! That might have only been due to my inexperience as an actor at the time, but actually I'm really glad it happened that way and now I'd do it that way every time. I was so wrapped up in what I was doing from the moment I was offered the role, I really didn't focus on anything external... including past portrayals. It sounds kind of extreme but it was so important to me to do the best job I possibly could for the film that I became pretty much obsessed with genuinely reaching the emotions my character was going through, so I never looked outside of that and never even considered past portrayals as any kind of influence.
Another aspect I really loved about the movie is the glimpse we get into Infurnari's world, a rather novel and somewhat beguiling description of the vampires' society. If an real life Infurnari approached you, would you tempted to join their ranks?
Giles: That’s a great question and I think it would have to depend on the circumstances. You would have to be a such a low ebb in your life to commit to Infurnari's world. I hope I'm never in that situation but if you had to do it... You'd be in good hands with him.
Dan: Yeah, definitely! It sounds amazing! I reckon once you got over the initial 'I need to feed on human blood' thing, it would be a riot. You could even do society a favour by feeding on bad people. I'd make it work. I'd use my vampire powers in ridiculous ways too.
For example, did you see how fast Infurnari could run? Well I'd enter the Olympics. Usain Bolt wouldn't even get off the starting blocks and I'd be doing my victory lap. They'd run drug tests but I'd pass them all and they wouldn't have a clue how I could run the 100m in 0.6 of a second, but it would happen, you'd see it all in the high-definition slow-motion replay. I'd be the first Vampire gold medallist. No doubt this would catch on and pretty soon you'd have vampires competing in all events, except the hurling because, well, it's hurling. The only thing you'd have to work out is avoiding the team nutritionist. I'd address the daylight issue with a simple full-body suit (which would also catch on) to protect me from sunlight and which I would explain as an aerodynamics thing. Don't think I haven't thought this through because I have, I assure you.
What other projects have you in the pipeline?
Giles:There's a few projects in the offering so we will see what happens first. My film company Gold Films are going into production with a couple of films this year, For Hire an action thriller and The Long Walk which is a drama so there is those to look forward to as well. Plus I'll speak to Ollie and see if I can get Harsh Light 2: Infurnari's World going. ;-) Maybe if I change that terrible title first eh?
Dan: A Canadian comedy feature film called Vamlet from writer/director Terry Miles, which is premièring later this year.
I'm about to shoot a short film opposite Hugh Quarshie of Star Wars Episode 1 and Holby City fame...
An amazing underwater film with the fabulous people at Realm Pictures. It's called The Underwater Realm and it's such a cool, ambitious project which I'm so proud to be part of it, and it means I get to go shoot a movie in the tropical sunshine!
A comedy TV pilot called Call Girls with Fab & Frantic Productions. So much fun to work on and such a great team! And in between filming I'm actually writing a comedy feature myself which I'm really excited about. More on that as it develops...
Thanks so much for taking the time to ask these questions. It's a real pleasure speaking with you!
If you would like to know more about The Harsh Light of Day, read Jim's review!