Rory Kinnear on humor, horror and trauma: “I went in the truck and there was my skull again, sent to haunt me” | Films

YYou can never be sure who you’re going to meet when interviewing an actor. Will it be the suspicious landowner with prosthetic teeth and a nice vacation mansion, the straight-haired vicar who wrings his hands, or maybe the spooky green man who lets it all hang out? Rory Kinnear is all this, and more, in his latest film, Men, a creepy symbolist mix of horror written and directed by alex garland. But the man who has just walked through London to be photographed and interviewed, with no caretakers in tow, looks as menacing as a fine spring day, and is so refreshingly affable that by the end of the photo shoot he has elicited a wink from the confidence. photographer that not even his family knows yet.

Kinnear plays no fewer than eight men in the film, a play on hands, body and face that culminates in a pub scene with five of them drinking together at the bar. How is that possible? “It was actually quite lo-fi,” he says. “It was basically a matter of camera angles and having to stand in certain places, with five stand-ins for the characters he was playing, all of whom were similarly dressed and similarly aged. We did the scene five ways and I only played one of the characters. But it also puts a lot of limitations on you: like you can’t go off track there, because that’s going to cost us another $20,000 in post-production.”

It’s all in a day’s work for one of the UK’s most versatile actors. “Weirdly,” he says, “now I’ve done multiple multiple versions of myself in one scene; it was my fourth time doing it, which is a weird niche I’ve found myself in, but it means I know the score now. It’s quite laborious, but also fun.”

As “the creature”, in an episode of the cult horror series. Penny dreadful, he played three versions of himself in a padded cell: “just me and Eva Green and no yellow contact lenses, which was nice, because it meant I could actually see her.” In Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s black comedy inside no 9, was a pair of Shakespeare’s long-lost twin brothers. Right after Men, he jumped to the US for a comedy series, Our flag means death, in which he again played the twins. Among other things, he meant being harassed by his own 3D-printed skull, through a succession of makeup trucks. For the Men, there were several such trucks, decked out in wigs and prosthetics. “Then I walked into a makeup truck on the set of Our Flag Means Death and there was my skull, sent to haunt me again.”

Kinnear in Men.
Kinnear in Men. Photograph: Landmark Media/Alamy

Kinnear’s co-star in the film is Jessie Buckley, who plays Harper, a woman haunted by the consequences of an abusive marriage, who seeks refuge in an idyllic Cotswolds hideaway, only to find it besieged by embodiments of her worst nightmares. Among them are a priest and a policeman, the very people women in distress are most likely to turn to. But while both institutions have rarely been far from the headlines in recent years as agencies of an out-of-control patriarchy, Kinnear is reluctant to attribute the film to any political message. “It would be too simplistic to say: ‘God, aren’t men bad?’ I don’t think that’s what he’s doing,” she insists. “It is a portrait of men through the eyes of a woman who has just suffered a traumatic event due to what we see as an abusive relationship. So she starts in that grief and post-trauma, and I think she’s reflecting on what trauma does to the way a person sees the world. It’s the story of Harper’s experience.”

So what kind of man is Kinnear? He became part of the pandemic narrative with a couple of initially loving, then angry articles about the Covid death of his disabled sister, Karina, whose funeral was the day from one of the Downing Street parties. He had been comforted, she wrote, by a sense of solidarity. “Pain like ours was tearing families apart around the world. So somehow he felt like we were all in this together. Well, no everybody of us, it turns out. Do not them.”

Inevitably, he says now, he was shaped by a childhood in which he not only had an older sister with severe learning difficulties, but also lost his father, actor Roy Kinnear, in a freak accident on a film set when he was 10. years. . “I had a very strong-willed, loving mother and two loving sisters, and when I grew up, there was very often a nurse or caretaker in the house. I went to an all-boys school, but I was from an all-girls home, so even at 13 or 14, I guess I wasn’t necessarily aligning myself with traditional male roles. I was not massively in the sport. I did theater and I liked books, but that felt like both male and female behavior at the time; it didn’t bother me.”

With Nancy Carroll in Man of Mode at the National Theater.
With Nancy Carroll in Man of Mode at the National Theater. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Acting was a family business: her mother, Carmel Crian, was in EastEnders for a while; her godfather was Michael Williams, the husband of Judi Dench (who took over the role after her husband died and still sends her birthday presents), so becoming an actor wasn’t such a distant dream. But the confusion of bereavement had put an old head on young shoulders and he didn’t go to drama school until after graduating with an English degree from Oxford.

“I felt like I wasn’t going to get anywhere until I was around 40, because I felt like 40 when I was 14, so I figured I’d have to wait for my body to catch up with my sense of who I am. it was,” she says. “Everything that happened before that was a pleasant surprise. I never really expected to be playing Hamlet and stuff like that.” But he did play it, winning one of a series of theater awards including an Olivier for an exquisite restoration dandy, Sir Fopling Flutter, in The Man of Mode and a double whammy at the 2014 Critics Circle Awards as an actor (Iago in Othello) and author of the year Most Promising First Featurea piece close to home about a family with a disabled child.

Kinnear is 44 years old, the father of two young children. His early heroics and smug fads have been sidelined by sinister characters like MI6 agent Bill Tanner in the James Bond movies and British fascist leader Colin Jordan in the recent TV miniseries. ridley way. But she loves to laugh and gets teary-eyed when she talks about showing her young son the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory for the first time, with her dad playing Veruca Salt’s dad. “There’s Dad cheating a bit as he goes down the egg chute, my son laughing and making me repeat it over and over again,” she says. “What a wonderful legacy that is. Fifty years after committing this foolishness, the grandson he never knew is laughing out loud.”

His own sense of humor is “pretty dark,” he says. He has an oft-repeated party joke about wanting to be a butcher when he was little because the local butcher’s missing finger showed his love for the job. He laughs like a mischievous child when I tell him that the critic sitting next to me at a screening of Men greeted the appearance of a decaying deer by asking aloud, “And what is that? rory kinnearalso?”

It’s a humor he shares with Buckley, as they discovered when they were holed up together for rehearsals at Garland’s father’s house in the Cotswolds, and later after each day of filming in a Cheltenham hotel, the world locked in around them. “It was definitely one of the most intense experiences in terms of a working relationship,” she says, “but fortunately, Jessie has one of the best laughs in the world.”

Remember the two years of the pandemic as the best and the worst of times. It allowed him to spend a lot of time with his partner, the actor. pandora colin, and her children, but none with her dying sister. Likewise, as someone whose life has been shaped by an unnecessary accident (his father fell from a horse in a scene the stuntmen refused to do), he’s encouraged by moves in the film world to make him a safer place, through innovations like intimacy coordinators, even as cases of abuse keep coming. “I think there’s a lot of questioning,” he says.

And then he launches into a riff, delivered in such a deadpan voice and with such a poker face, it’s hard to tell how serious he is. “Everything really, in the last four or five years, has been about kindness. Obviously people have different opinions on that, and there’s obviously a lot of unkindness going on right now. Much of politics has become unpleasant, but it seems that we hope to move on to a more pleasant world and there has been a change in momentum. The move towards kindness is probably, um, nice.” Enough horror; give man a political comedy space.

Men opens in the UK on June 1

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