We Have Always Lived In The Castle is Stacie Passon’s second feature and it is a gorgeous, haunting vision of the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. It centers on the Blackwood family, an eccentric group of extremely wealthy people who live in a veritable castle on the edge of a small town.
A tragedy has befallen the family, which has named them outcasts in the community. The only Blackwoods left in the family are Constance (Alexandra Daddario), Merricat (Taissa Farmiga) and their uncle Julien (Crispin Glover). Or so they thought. After a while, their cousin Charles (Sebastian Stan) comes to visit and throws off the balance in the wonderful world that the sisters have built for themselves.
It’s hauntingly beautiful and a powerful statement about the bonds of sisterhood. I was incredibly fortunate to interview both Taissa Farmiga and Crispin Glover, both of whom I find to be brilliant actors, for the film.
First, my conversation with Taissa, and obviously I had to ask about American Horror Story.
“I understood that everything she did, she did for a reason and she believes she was doing the right thing…”
First of all, how did you become involved with We Have Always Lived in the Castle?
Taissa Farmiga: I just finished doing this off-Broadway play. The director of that play, said, “Oh, by the way, a producer friend of mine would love to have you in their movie,” and I hadn’t even heard of the movie yet.
Then the offer came in a couple of days later and they set up a Skype with the director Stacey. So I read the script. I immediately was captivated and I fell in love with the tone of the story. This contradiction of something that’s so dark and twisted and foreboding. There’s something that feels off, but yet everything has this fairy tale wash over it. I love that. I love the character of Merricat. I didn’t understand her, but I wanted to. I had a wonderful conversation with Stacy and then I just wanted to be a part of it. Luckily they gave me the opportunity.
There’s a lot of ways you can perceive Merricat. You could see her as kind of a protector but also as sort of “wicked” or what have you.
Sure. I think she’s actually a combination of everything you said and so much more. You know, she is a protector at the end of the day. She’s also a child. She’s also fragile. She’s also scared, but these feelings and emotions come out in different ways for different people. For her, she wants to protect Constance. That’s her number one priority.
So was that how you formed the character to make it more sympathetic to yourself?
To be honest, I felt a draw to her immediately. I always felt like I was on Merricat’s side from the time I read the script, especially (while) reading the book. I read the book so many times before we filmed and you get a little bit more insight into Merricat’s mind, thought processes, and feelings when you’re reading the book. Because obviously, the inner monologues are so much easier to portray that in the book.
So I understood that everything she did, she did for a reason and she believes she was doing the right thing. At the end of the day, the only person that she truly cares about and loves is Constance because she shows her warmth and kindness and doesn’t judge her for her more…odd outlook on life. She believes in what she believes. She has these feelings, her spells and incantations. That’s the way her anger and fear manifests. And Constance just accepts her. She’s the only person that accepts her.
Yeah. I, I loved that because you know, especially with cousin Charles (Sebastian Stan), he was very much of the opinion of “This girl is crazy.”
Yeah, and by the way, that’s everybody. That’s everybody in the town. You know, the Blackwoods are not liked by the townspeople. They’re shunned and judged by everybody else in their lives. Even their family members, even their parents, even cousin Charles, you know, nobody really appreciates these two women for who they are except for each other.
“…every so often after I had this huge emotional scene on the set and I cry it all out, I feel so much better in general.”
What was it like working with everybody? Because I love all of your work individually but the work you guys did together was just great.
It’s incredible. It’s so funny when this question comes up cause I feel like it sounds so fake all the time. I’m like, “Yeah, everybody was great!” Sincerely though, everybody was so passionate about this story and the book and everybody had such a clear, distinct take on their character. And it’s four very different personalities, four very distinct different people and the chemistry of that. Plus you put in the chemistry that we all loved each other and the chemistry of the characters, where some of it’s antagonistic and there’s no comfort there, but there’s the comfort between the actors.
It just works when everybody cares. Everybody wants to do their best. Everybody wants to stay as true as possible to the original story, to the book. We’re all on the same page, we’re all playing the same game. We’re all trying to help each other. So it was just fun to create–to try and bring the essence and create that in a movie.
What about the shoot? Were you guys actually in this huge house or were those just exteriors and you shot on set?
No! So we filmed in Ireland. The first week of it we were on location filming all this stuff in town and then for the rest of it, we were in the castle. So, there’s the scene where a couple of times you’ll see we walk up and out of the woods the whole manor’s there and that’s the actual house. There were so many rooms we didn’t use, but the main, the kitchen and this and that. We just used the house for the house, it wasn’t like there were stages built or anything.
Yeah, I was wondering about that because a lot of the times that does happen where you can’t film inside a place for one reason or another.
Because you can’t film in this room or this is too fragile or it doesn’t look exactly like what you want. Even though the trailers they had for the cast for our downtime, it was a good five-minute walk away. So when they say we’re gonna roll again soon we were all just hanging out in one room. We’re all just hanging out buddy-buddy, just living in a house together, essentially.
From what I’ve noticed about a decent percentage of the roles you play are kind of dark. And I’m wondering if you use that as kind of like a therapeutic outlet for yourself.
As you were asking the question, that word outlet came to my mind.
I’m a very happy person. I’m very joyful. I like to smile, like to laugh. I am a very light-hearted person usually, but my roles are usually the opposite. Yeah. Don’t know why. I’m assuming it’s because I like to get that out there. And then in my normal life, I can just be who I am. I know every so often after I had this huge emotional scene on the set and I cry it all out, I feel so much better in general. So it’s almost like an excuse to get out some of these emotions. It’s just what I’m drawn to. It’s not what I like to watch. I love to watch comedies. I like to watch the lighter things, stoner comedies, anything. But when I play things I’ve always been drawn to something with a little bit more weight to it. Uh, but yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts.
That’s something that I’ve talked to a bunch of people about and I find that the people who play the darkest roles are the most emotionally healthy and perky.
Well, some people like to get a little bit more method and they really drawn to the characters and I find if I do my prep work and I do it enough that I’m able to fall out of character, fall in and out of it easily. So, like when I’m filming a harder or a darker scene, I don’t have to sit in it all day. I can go joke around with the crew and then when they give the two-minute warning, I’m like, okay, let’s get back into it.
“…through acting as you push yourself (when you get a new role) to draw out this part of you to be able to play the character…”
That’s good to be able to like kind of turn that on and off. It’s a really good skill in my opinion. It’s funny because you and Crispin are both here and you guys both kind of came from families that were involved in acting and the arts and stuff like that. Did you always want to be an actor or how did that happen?
I never wanted to be an actor, well it’s not that I actively didn’t want to, it just never crossed my mind. It was never something that really interested me. My sister Vera has been an actress for over 20 years and it was always her thing. I thought like, oh, cool. She makes movies. I’ve always loved math and numbers and logic.
I was looking at classes at the community college for accounting because that’s how much I love numbers. Then Vera directed her first film and asked me to star in it. This was nine years ago. She threw me in it to play the younger version of her character. That was my first acting experience. I said yes because she’s my older sister and I literally didn’t have a choice. She’s like, “you’re going to do this”. I’m like, “Cool. I get to not be home with my parents for two months in the summer. Sounds great.”
I loved being on set and the atmosphere of that set, I love the energy of the crew. I love being somebody else. I was a very super shy teenager. So being able to step into someone else’s shoes, it was like, oh, it’s not me, so I’m not the one that has to be embarrassed.
I went back to my normal life for six months and then Vera invited me–That’s when I looked at those accounting classes–but Vera invited me to go to Sundance. We premiered the movie, people were super interested in and talking about it and agents and producers were showing an interest in me and my performance, which is not something I ever expected. I thought, “Oh, this is a great experience. Done and done. I learned a lot, but I’m going to go over here.” Then Vera said, “Well, just try it. You enjoyed it. You’re getting good attention from it. Why don’t you see what happens?”
So I said, okay, I was 16 or 17 at the time. So I’m like, well, whatever, I don’t know what I’m doing. And then I booked a job and I fell in love with it more. I booked another job, fell in love with it more and all of a sudden it’s eight years later and now I feel like I can’t breathe if I didn’t have this. So I’m very lucky that the opportunity presented itself when it did. It’s been a lot of hard work in between, but that first door that was open really showed me what I needed for myself and I didn’t even know that I needed this creative outlet.
And how old were you when you did that first film?
When I, when I did Vera’s film, Higher Ground, I was 15.
Okay. So do you think if you wouldn’t have been acting through most of your teen years and didn’t have that creative outlet that those darker parts would have came out in other ways?
I mean not entirely ‘cause my characters have done a lot of stuff. They’ve slit their own throat, they’ve killed…
You know, it’s interesting cause I was a very shy teenager, wasn’t great at communicating, wasn’t good at talking about feelings. Acting really helped me learn how to express myself and I always had a level of maturity to me. So I had awareness about things, but it didn’t make it easier to talk about how I was feeling and how to express that. So I don’t know where I’d be. I’d probably be really–I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know. If I didn’t have acting to be able to learn who I was and discover parts of my personality. Cause that’s how I figured out who I was. I was a young adult in my twenties and through acting as you push yourself (when you get a new role) to draw out this part of you to be able to play the character, and all of a sudden I’ve got a full-fledged personality now. I don’t know. I don’t know who I would be, probably wouldn’t be as comfortable with myself.
Yeah. I think that’s a blessing that you were able to have acted because that’s such a hard period for anybody.
Yeah. Just learning, figuring out who you are, acting definitely helped. Playing different characters because with every character you play, there has to be, has to be rooted in something true. And that’s usually you,some part of your life and whether that’s, you know, a majority of your personality or just a small bit. So I was able to take that and run with it. And Gosh, sometimes I think about it and I am generally fearful of who I could have been if I wasn’t granted this incredible opportunity and worked my butt off to be here eight years later.
Well, I mean, I’m glad that you are. Thanks for the work that you do. And just forgive me because I’m a nerd, but I have to ask you, I know you probably can’t answer, but are you going to be in the next season of American Horror Story?
As of right now, no, but the show, the way it works is sometimes you don’t know until a week before you’re filming. So genuinely, I don’t know. And usually, whenever I’m on a carpet and people ask me, they’re like, “Oh, you’re keeping secrets.” I never knew anything with this show.
So with that is Ryan Murphy like the kind of person that you will basically always say yes to?
In the sense of with the show, yeah. Listen, I grew up on that show. I grew up with those people. I’ve learned so much from them. It feels like home every time I go back and feels like home in the summer I was dealing with a bunch of health stuff and digestive issues and everything. There was a thing where they ended up finding a parasite in my blood and that’s why for two years I felt like I was going crazy and I just wanted to take a break cause that fall was just crazy for me. But I love them enough. And I said yes and I wanted to go back. And the fact that they called me back as always, such a, such a wonderful feeling. So I’m part of the family is definitely.
I feel like people, once they work with him, they’re just like, oh, I definitely want to work with him again.
His mind is so vast and crazy, so it’s like you never know what you’re gonna get. So as an actor it’s incredible. Opportunities usually are given a character where you get to sink your teeth into and it’s like, Whoa, I’m a part of something that’s crazy and wild. Yeah. And that’s exciting. So there’s always a draw of being like, “Ooh, what’s going to happen now?”
I know you said you never really expected to be an actor, but while you were getting to that point, did you see a movie or a TV show or anything like that kind of made you think like, okay, I think I really do want to do this?
Growing up, I didn’t watch a lot of movies and TV. It wasn’t a huge movie buff. I guess for some people they watch a movie and say, “oh my gosh”, and this sticks with them forever and they want to tell stories like that. For me, I got to experience it because my sister gave me the opportunity.
So my first, my first experience with the movie world and acting really wasn’t from like an outside desire to be in. It was from a place of being in already and the desire to do my best and fit in. So what drew me into acting was the empathy of all of it, of taking a character and having to fully understand why they act. And as I said, I’m a very logical person. So for me, even though emotions aren’t logical, there’s a way that this plus this plus this adds to this. If you subtract this and you have this, there’s your character that’s sort of like weird artistic slash logical take on it. So that’s why I like it, it’s understanding the puzzle of human emotions.
Oh God, that’s such an interesting way of looking at things because I’m the opposite.
The thing is I’m super empathetic. Like I’ll just be watching American Idol and they show something. I’m just bawling my eyes out because it’s a sense of feeling, but then I want to break down what that feeling is and understand it. Yeah, that’s the mathematical side of my brain.
I just have one more question… is there anything that you’re working on now that you want to talk about?
I just filmed an episode of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone that they’re remaking. That’s the next thing I have coming out. Otherwise just looking for the next thing. I had a big fall, I had like four movies come out. It’s funny when everything you had in your back pocket is out there now. You know what I mean? This (We Have Always Lived In The Castle) and Twilight Zone are the last things I’ve done. So it’s interesting because the next couple of years it’s going to be making movies and then you go back to promoting it and then making it. So it’s like a fun juggling game.
Are you wanting to take a little bit of a break or are you just ready to dive back in?
I’m actually really excited to keep going. As I briefly mentioned, I just was dealing with some health stuff and personal stuff. So I worked through it, not just emotionally and physically but also did jobs through it. I finally feel like myself again and everything feels right and aligned. So I want to experience working again without having something off kilter if that makes sense.
Yes, I completely understand and we’re all looking forward to see what you do next.
Next, I talked to the one and only Crispin Glover. The iconoclastic actor/writer/director is one of my all-time favorites and we talked about seemingly everything under the sun including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the positive and negative connotations of propaganda and the fact that no, Crispin Glover does not collect antique medical supplies. Oh yeah, we also talked about We Have Always Lived Inside The Castle, in which he plays Uncle Julien. I must admit I was somewhat intimidated to talk to Crispin Glover because I think of him as a living testament to all things countercultural. He seems to be able to do whatever he wants career wise. It was interesting to have his mythos kind of fade away as we were talking yet simultaneously enthralled by the conversation. Without further ado, here is our conversation:
“The book that I’m writing, it is different things, but the main theme is about how propaganda functions in the entertainment industry…”
So you probably read the book (We Have Always Lived In The Castle) a long time ago before you did the movie, right?
Crispin Glover: No, I read it while we were shooting.
Oh Wow. Yeah. Because from what I know of you, I expect you to have read every book ever. But obviously, that’s a grandiose expectation.
You mean literally? No, definitely not. I would like to be a better read than I am. I mean, I’m somewhat well read, but yes, certainly I’ve never read every book.
I mean, yes, of course I feel the same way but now with technology and stuff, it’s hard to kind of read as much as I used to because I feel like I have to focus so much on that kind of stuff.
So yeah, your time gets pulled in two different ways. I’m editing a film that I’ve made and I’m writing a book right now, so it’s hard for me to read a lot, particularly right now.
Yeah. Because you have to devote your time to your work
I don’t know, it pulls me out of that.
So what’s the book about?
The book that I’m writing, it is different things, but the main theme is about how propaganda functions in the entertainment industry. But I almost hesitate to say it that way because I think people when they say that, get this idea that it’s going to be this negative indictment or something, which it isn’t really. Propaganda is a funny word because it didn’t originally have a negative connotation. It can have a negative connotation when there are corporate interests that have negative leanings, but the functionality of it, why it functions is because humans have a way of getting information kind of in nuggets that’s important information to be passed from one generation to the next. So it’s ultimately a positive thing. It can be very positive. It can be varied, destructive, just depends on what the intent is.
Oh yeah, of course. And like I think with movies and especially kind of during the McCarthy era that propaganda and also maybe with Nazi-ism that was when the word kind of gained its negative association
The time that it actually got a negative connotation was after WWI specifically. There was a book written by Edward Bernays in 1926 that he wrote because he was trained to rehabilitate the word. Bernays is fascinating. His uncle was Sigmund Freud and the reason Sigmund Freud became well known in the US was that Bernays brought him over and Bernays is the literal father of the public relations industry. He came up with the word combination, public relations to replace the word propaganda because the book didn’t work in order to rehabilitate the word. So he replaced the word propaganda with public relations. Public Relations is a synonym to propaganda. Propaganda is public relations. Public Relations is propaganda.
Do you have any idea of when the book is going to come out?
I need to finish it sooner than later. We’ve been working on it for a long time. I was up over 500 pages and just in this last year, I started editing its notes. I took about a hundred pages out. I’m kind of going through it. We’ll see. It takes time. I’m editing my film feature as well.
I wanted to ask you about that because your father is in the film, correct?
This is the first time my father and I’ve ever acted together before.
That’s really great. Are you going to follow your usual methodology of touring it around yourself?
The first two films are part of a trilogy that is extremely anti-corporate. It was designed to be uncomfortable for both the audience and — particularly my first film– for corporations. It’s an attack on the corporate thought process, so to speak. So, the new film isn’t part of the trilogy. It’s still is a high art film, I suppose you might call it, but it is not designed to have the discomfort level that the trilogy is designed to have. So, I don’t know. it’s hard to know what gets distributed and…I’ve put money into this film. This is a much more expensive film than my first two films combined. So, I have to bring a certain amount of money and I don’t know, I know the touring has kind of been a safety net even though that’s a difficult thing to do as well. But, if I were to sell it to a corporation, which is possible because again, it wasn’t designed to be anti-corporate, I’ve put a certain amount of money in that I’d have to get back, whether I would get that amount from a corporation to distribute in this climate. It’s hard to know. So, it’s possible that a little tour with it, it’s possible I’ll sell it. Anything’s possible. The first two films I knew I would tour with…this one, I don’t know.
And it’s currently untitled, correct?
Well, there is a title but I call it untitled because what I discovered is that if people have a title with things like the IMDB and the internet, they pretend they know all kinds of stuff about something and they don’t. So I keep it relatively quiet. And so if you, people don’t have a title, they can’t pretend that they know stuff.
Even though I wait until the film is released like there are stuff people put or have written about it that they think is true and there’s stuff on IMDB that is sort of accurate, but sort of inaccurate, I’ll fix it when the film is ready to release on some level. I don’t mind that the information is inaccurate on IMDB because I’ve been working, I’ve been shooting a production segment every year since 2013 until this year. This is the first year, so five years I’ve been shooting at least one production segment. And the nature of the film has changed a bit since I started. There was a script which is still a main part of the film, but there are other things that have happened within it. So if I worried about the IMDB, I would still have to go back and change things. I’ve never put something on the IMDB about the film.
“…I call it untitled because what I discovered is that if people have a title with things like the IMDB and the internet, they pretend they know all kinds of stuff…”
I want to get back to the movie (We Have Always Lived In The Castle) since that’s theoretically what we’re here for. I bought the book and I had started it because I didn’t know that this interview was even going to happen, but I wanted to read it before I saw the movie, but I didn’t get far enough.
Oh, so it was a mystery!
Yeah. So, was Uncle Julian, do you think that his memory loss, was that from the arsenic poisoning?
I believe it is, yes.
Yeah, I was watching it with my boyfriend and he said, he seems like he might have…
Dementia? Yeah, I mean, it’s possible the person would have had to have that anyhow, but it seems pretty apparent that something severely wrong is happening from the poison there.
I love how Uncle Julien has this kind of obsession that even when he forgets something that he goes right back to it. I really appreciate that. My grandfather had dementia and so it sort of reminded me of that…like when a really intelligent person gets dementia, the intelligence is still there.
Right. Yeah, Shirley Jackson really is a great writer.
From what I’ve gathered and you have kind of an affinity for antiques and, and stuff like that….
To a certain extent, some of what’s been written are incorrect. Years ago it was written that I have like an antique medical collection, which is not true.
That’s not true. Oh my God. I always assumed it was, I’m sorry.
That’s never been true. I have one case of eyes that I bought in the 1980s which is something that was made in the 1800’s, I bought it in London. That’s the only thing and it’s been turned into this idea that I collect all kinds of stuff. I know, I know some people that have genuine collections. I mean I have antiques but they’re not medical.
The reason I asked is because of the set and the design was just so incredible. I wondered if you were able to take anything from the set.
No, the place that we shot in was a private home and, no, I mean that would have been taking from them, although I’m sure they bought stuff in from there for the period. But no, generally, that stuff is rented to taking things from the set to usually doesn’t happen.
I guess the people that have told me that they have taken stuff from the set are different creatures, haha.
Yeah. I mean, if there really is something you want, you can work something out. But it’s actually been pretty rare that I’ve taken something from a set, there was a film I did in the 80s, a John Boorman film called Where The Heart Is and they had a canopy of a bed that was made out of silk saris. I purchased some materials from them. Oh. And I ended up making a bed similar at which I’ve replicated. I have a number of residences and I have one in Los Angeles and one in the Czech Republic, so I have a frame that I made out of copper, copper piping, a canopy with silk.
That’s awesome. My family is, my father is a Slovakian. He’s the first generation American of the family. My last name’s Kikta, so it’s pretty obviously Slavic . This is kind of a random question, and forgive me if I’m wrong but I read that (Rainer Werner) Fassbinder is a big influence of yours. Is that true?
Well, to a certain extent, I started watching Fassbinder at the end of editing What Is It? which was 98-99. So in a certain way, it’s not like an early initial influence but I do admire his work. He’s fantastic.
He’s one of my top five directors. Do you have a favorite film of his?
I have a number of favorites of his, the first film that I saw where I realized what a great director he was, was at the L.A. County Art Museum. I saw a projection of Ali: Fear Eats The Soul which I would say that was probably his first truly great film that he made, although he made interesting films even before that. But that one is just really perfect structurally, emotionally. But he’s made a number of great films. Berlin Alexanderplatz is a real feat..to his last film that he completed while he was alive was Veronika Voss.
That one is really fascinating and also it’s based on a very interesting actress very interesting actress who’s in (Carl Theodor Dreyer’s) Vampyr which is, I think, the first sound incarnation of Dracula from the 1930’s or 1940’s, very early sound (it’s 1932) whose name I’m forgetting right now….is it Sylvia Schmidt? (It is Sybille Schmitz) but like Veronika Voss, it’s based on her. So it was based on a real actress and she was a very interesting actress. Very, very good. She’s in another German-language film called Ferryboat Maria, which was an interesting film as well. Well, I’m sure I saw that at UCLA.
She had an otherworldly quality and she was genuinely addicted to opiates, which is of course, which is what Veronika Voss is about. He’s (Fassbinder’s) made so many films in such a short time. So, so impressive and I mean, he made so many, there’s a portion of those that are just truly great. The thing about his films that I find particularly interesting is his ability to have the nuance of…he understood the psychology of what people need from each other and how people utilize each other.
Generally, the themes of his films, almost every one of them is about the complete psychological and physical destruction of the human being. But then he gets into the socioeconomic extrapolations of what those small needs turn into larger a sociological aspects, which was also illustrated in Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven. She doesn’t understand what happened and how her husband’s treated in the press when he dies. And then all of these political machinations that are utilizing this innocent woman. I know it’s really beautifully constructed.
Have you seen, because my favorite film of his, and it’s my favorite film about a movie within a movie….
Oh yeah. I love that. Beware Of A Holy Whore. That’s something that’s influenced my most recent films strongly. Oh, I’ve changed my film and there was a strong, very specific influence from that film. I agree. That is my favorite film about filmmaking.
Yeah. Cause there are so many and not all of them are that wonderful.
Beware Of A Holy Whore is very interesting but it’s less specific about film. That’s more about an individual that’s affected by something. This is very interesting way of dealing with the film. And Margit Carstensen, she’s not in that film, but she’s in my second film and I asked her about working with Fassbinder and she was great to work with. Of course she played Petra Von Kant in The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. But I asked her about if they really did live together in a community and she said yes, they did. And I asked her about Chinese Roulette, which she’s the lead in. And I asked her about that game and did they really play that game, and they did!
But the thing I read about Beware Of A Holy Whore is that I think except for Hanna Schygulla, all the other actors are playing different people on a previous production. I think the previous production was the film called Whity and so Beware Of A Holy Whore, you can’t tell from looking at it, but it’s about the making of Whity, but different people were playing different characters than they were. And it’s just, it’s fascinating. He’s just interesting.
Yeah. I’m really excited to know that Beware Of A Holy Whore was an influence on your new film.
Yeah, it wouldn’t be evident necessarily. I changed the film and the one I’m working on now and there are aspects that are strongly influenced from that.
“I’m finding that it’s just best for me to continue doing the things I’m most interested in doing. Whether that’s the place where money goes or not.”
You appear to have the distinct pleasure to be able to do all of these different things like you act, you direct, you write books and everything. What would you say to someone who wants to follow a similar career path? Like what kind of advice would you give?
You know, I just do keep doing the things that you’re generally, genuinely interested in doing. Yeah. Like there’s no need to do something just because you’re supposed to do it. If you genuinely are interested in doing something and have a need for doing it, then you should do it. And if an opportunity comes that might be of interest, you can follow that. I’m finding that it’s just best for me to continue doing the things I’m most interested in doing. Whether that’s the place where money goes or not. It’s like I’ve always heard, I think (Werner) Herzog has said something similar, but it’s also something I’ve seen Joseph Campbell says “If you go towards the thing that you’re really fascinated by the money will follow up.” But there’s so much emphasis on money in the culture, which I don’t think is a good thing. It becomes necessary of course. But being focused on that is not healthy. It’s not good for the mind.
I feel like you follow that pretty well. I don’t think that I’ve seen you in anything that you wouldn’t have wanted to do.
No, that’s not true. I mean, definitely, there are times where I’ve opened up a script and before I opened it up I said, “Whatever this is, I’m going to make this work.” That’s because I fund my own films. But, in a certain way, I actually think there’s something healthy about that. It’s kind of like you’ve just got to do it. And sometimes they’re very nice stuff. I like this material (We Have Always Lived In The Castle). I like the material for American Gods. I’m talking about the source material and these things are very interrelated too because I was in the middle of shooting the first season of American Gods when I shot this and then I came back and finished shooting the first season of American Gods. And then Stacie Passon, the director of this also directed an episode of season two….and I’ve seen Neil Gaiman list Shirley Jackson is either one of his influences or writers that he admires. These are both beautiful and uniquely written books. So I like things that come from good literary sources.
Yeah, when I saw this film and you were in it, I thought that I can’t imagine anybody else playing this part. And I know that there were other people that were up for it, but I’m glad that it was you who got it.
Yeah, I’m pleased. I’m grateful that it worked that way. I wouldn’t even necessarily have had myself in my mind’s eye of reading the character. But at the same time, age-wise, I actually am, have the correct age for the character but I pictured kind of older, more decrepit looking person in a way that than myself.
When you were first starting your career, um, I know your father was an actor but was there something kind of that you saw a specific film or a play or something that made you think that that’s what you want to do?
Well, my father is an actor in the film that I’m working on now, it’s the first time he and I have acted together.
The thing that happened… I grew up in middle class, which I’m glad I did as opposed to upper class or lower class. So upper class, I feel like I’ve seen it where people don’t necessarily have a motivation. I had a motivation. I knew I had to make a living doing something and I was glad that I wasn’t poor either. Because that can just be difficult. So to be middle class is a good, proper motivator to do stuff. So I was motivated at a young age to have a vocation. And at a very young age, my first interest was to be a geologist. I still find it interesting. Um, but uh, I started realizing, I was thinking like, you know, this is when I’m like nine, 10 years old I think you will have a pith helmet and a chisel and break open geodes and find beautiful crystals and then realized, no, I probably have to work for an international geothermal oil company in terrible locations, which didn’t sound that fun.
So then I saw that my father– I could see that it was actually an industry that had certain logical steps in it. And I felt like it was something that I could do. I don’t feel like I’m a natural born actor. I started studying professionally when I was 15. And I studied from 15 to 20 quite extensively. My father also teaches acting, but I never studied with him. I’m sure I pick things up, but I never studied with him professionally or I never went to a class with my father, but I did study professionally in other classes and I do feel like it was, and still is a value for me. Actually, I started professionally at age 13, so it was a professional decision to have made at a young age, which I’m glad I did. I think it was a good decision.
Yeah, definitely. I mean, you’re sitting here, so I think it was. Also, that’s a very impressive decision for 13-year-old to make.