Film Scouts Interviews

The Cast of "Ravenous"

by Andréa C. Basora

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You could probably list the films about frontier cannibalism on the fingers of one hand - and still have a few fingers left over to snack on. No matter what you think of the film itself - personally, loved it. Antonia Bird's "Ravenous" should at least get a special mention at the Sundance awards ceremony as the most original offering of this year's festival. And that, it seems, was its primary appeal to those involved in making it. Several of the principals spoke to Newsweek's Andrea C. Basora. Excerpts:

Antonia Bird, director: I read the script quite a long time ago.... I had a huge pile of scripts and I have someone who helps me read them. He said, 'You should read this, it's about cannibals,' and I said, 'Oh please! No thank you.' But he [told me] it was very well-written, so I read it thinking I would put it down after about ten pages because I wouldn't be wanting to make a film about cannibals. But I got so totally intrigued and so impressed by the quality of the writing. In Britain we're very much brought up to revere the writer and [I] just thought this guy was brilliant, and when I found out he was 26, I was falling over...

I think there's something interesting in the fact that we live in a society that is so obsessed with food and body shape, what we put in our mouths and plastic surgery. Just thinking about California now and California then is quite interesting. Addiction, obsession, all those things that plague our society. The best kind of film for me is one that you can thoroughly enjoy for two hours and not be thinking heavy thoughts other than the fact that you're hiding under the seat because it's scary, but then afterwards it starts having a resonance with you. Addiction, obsession, all those things that plague our society - it's there if you want it to be and not if you don't.

Robert Carlyle, actor: When the script came to me, the outstanding thing for me was that there was the potential for something original. That's very rare to find. That was number one, and then it also seemed to me to be a very good example of a mixed genre. I felt that the horror, the dark, gothic psychological stuff that was going on, the black comedy - I just thought it made for an interesting read....Colonel Ives is very deep, very dark, very complex - you've heard that before, but I think it's true in this case, he's a very complex character - hopefully engaging even though he's abhorrent. I think in many ways he's in the best traditions of some of the great cinema villains in that he is so disgusting, but you kind of like him. That was my take on the character; I felt I had to make him as engaging as possible because, on the surface, the subject matter is so dark. You need the humor [as a] counterbalance.

Guy Pearce, actor: I really like to maintain a varied collection of [roles]. I get really bored when I see actors do the same thing all the time, and having worked on a soap ["Neighbors"] for four years, I did the same thing all the time...It's probably forced me to look for different stuff. Some would say [Captain Boyd] is a coward, and I would say he is a coward in the beginning. He's been stuck in the army and stuck in the Mexican-American War and really just doesn't need to be there, doesn't want to be there. It was important to me to try and create a character so that the audience could really get inside his head and consequently question what they would do in the same situation. He grows through the film. He's like an animal that's stuck in a cage, I mean not much goes right for him during through the course of the movie, [but finally] he decides to become a little more pro-active and try to put a stop to things.

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