Your character seems to have had enough with life after the war and all that hes seen. Why does he fight so hard to live?
You dont want to die. When you see someone die, you think about it. It gives you the gift of never wanting to die and also it gives you the gift of fearlessness for your own dying. But time goes on, and time goes on in this mans life and he wants to live. As much as he kind of wants to put a bullet in his brain, hes scared. Hes scared of death; hes scared of the darkness. Hes scared of the final breath. Hes scared of living and hes scared of dying. Hes just scared. Hes frightened, hes hunted, and he knows that maybe at some point in time that he will meet his Maker or, in this case, meet the man whose life he fully destroyed before his eyes. But I think theres just that animal instinct that your brain has programmed into your body and your lungs and everything to live. He wants to live and in comes the anger and the ferociousness of survival.
That was me, anyway. Id pick the bones out of it. That was pretty good, wasnt it?! (Laughing) You just show up and hope you dont bump into the furniture.
Which scene challenged you the most emotionally?
Oh, I think when I meet [Liam Neesons character] and its just what do I say to him? How do I say it? How do I position myself at the end of the gun and the bullet thats going to enter your brain? And because were so separate in the movie, and I dont speak much, and just as an actor when you come to do that scene and youre opposite Liam The two of us meet, and even though Liam and I got on really good together we knew each other, not too well before the film, but that particular days work is we now have to speak to each other and we were already into the film a good four or five weeks. That was a challenge.
Going down the rapids was a challenge. That was a challenge of another order, and one which I was very fearful of. I really was terrified. I was very scared by that just because things can go wrong and when they go wrong, they go wrong very fast. The hydraulics of that water, its just unbelievable. Its in this canyon and it was just charging. You had to shout the whole day. You had to shout and you were on wires to go to jump into the bottom of that water, which is freezing. Its like a thousand knives in your head. (Laughing) Its fun, though. If you get it right, thats exhilarating for an audience. And Mark, who did the jump, really did incredible job on that. Its all a challenge and you want the audience to have a good ride.
How much was you and where did the stunt person come in?
I go down the river, you cut and he comes in. He comes in on a helicopter. They bring him in on a helicopter and put him on a decelerator. Like the waterfalls here, they dropped him here, he goes down and hes going down into nothingness, going down into the ether of this water. They dont know how big the rocks are down there. So, man, it was just a gamble.
We stood there at quarter to four in the evening with eight cameras going when the helicopter came in. We all waited. We waited, we waited, and they took him out of the helicopter at the end and he came out like this Christ figure and dropped him in. I was standing beside David Von Ancken, and you just Ive seen things go wrong and Ive seen men really battered. He went into the hydraulics of it and disappeared and then came out of the end and everybody clapped. And David said, Lets go again. Lets go again. And they went again because he got too much into the waterfall and they wanted to see him more on top of the water.
The guy who was flying the helicopter, hes just eyeballing it on a tree, apparently. Theres no computer or anything. Hes just eyeballing it as this man drops and then pulls out at the last moment. So that was that, and then the next day Im on the wire. Were at the bottom of the waterfall and I have to jump into it. When you jump in there everything closes down. Everything closes down. You cant prepare for it. You see nothing, hear nothing, except you just get in the water and hope that the wires and the catches are going to be there. It just picks you up so fast and pulls you down and then just spits you out. It was good - fun, though. You go home from a day like that and its like, Wow! How wonderful!
Because Seraphim Falls was David Von Anckens first feature film, was there a learning curve involved in working with him?
Well, we hit the ground running. Hes a very erudite fellow. I think he has a glorious career ahead of him. I went into this on the script and to work with Liam Neeson, who was attached and the small film that David had made called Bullet in the Brain. Its like a haiku of film, very eloquent. Its only 12 minutes. I enjoyed his company and his passion for film and storytelling. Hes old-fashioned in many ways. He put the camera up on the sticks and pointed the camera.
I watched him every day drawing strength. He was a general. He was somebody who you could trust. And he had most wonderful grace under pressure, as a young filmmaker, in making decisions on the fly, which is not easy. Being tested, tried by producers, and time and budget and weather. The weather gods were with us and likewise the movie gods were with us because there was no room for error in the timetable. It was hot. You were out in the heat all day in the middle of nowhere all day. It was just you under a tent flap and that was it from sun up to sun down. That was a good thing, because you watched the sun, which was good. You didnt have to look at a clock. [Rubbing his hands together] Cold beer and a large whiskey.