Stephen Moyer: There were ghostly presences on the set of The Caller

Ambush Bug (Mark L. Miller) went to the Premiere of The Caller in Puerto Rico and not only reviewed the film but also got to speak to Stephen Moyer about his take on the film and those ghostly prescences.

We’ll let you read his review at the site, but here’s in one sentence, his opinion:

“THE CALLER is a fantastic achievement in old school scares with none of the glossy bells and safe whistles you see in a typical Hollywood horror thriller, but plenty of terrifying rings. THE CALLER opens in select theaters today!”

Below is the interview with Stephen:

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So I’m sitting here with Stephen Moyer and I’m here in Puerto Rico…
STEPHEN MOYER (SM): Looking over the ocean. We’ve both got our shorts on…

BUG: It’s pretty nice…
SM: Pina Coladas…
[Both laugh]

BUG: Nothing bad happening here so far. No hurricane here at all. Nope. It has been kind of a harrowing journey out here, just to the premiere of this film. What was it like for you to get out here to the island?
SM: I mean, I just had my first anniversary with Anna [Paquin] and we were in Louisiana together, in Shreveport where she is doing a film there and it’s 105 degrees in Shreveport and with an incredible amount of humidity. So the truth is that this is like winter, it’s lovely. It feels cool even though we are all boiling and there’s no electricity and there’s no air conditioning. I didn’t know whether I was going to make it in. I didn’t know if the plane was going to work, whether we were going to be hit by the hurricane, and you know, you just don’t know what you are going to get, but I felt like we are all here for the right reason, because this is a fantastic little film and so I’m glad we all put the effort in.

BUG: It really is a fantastic film. I saw it last night, it’s called THE CALLER, I don’t think I mentioned that at the beginning. Why don’t you tell people in your own words what the film is about?
SM: It’s about a woman who is going through a difficult divorce who moves away from her home and moves into a new apartment and in the apartment there is an old phone plugged in and she receives a phone call from a lady who is looking for her boyfriend and at first we believe that this character exists and she’s just got the wrong number or something, but come to learn that it’s a lot more complicated than that and throughout the film Rachelle [Lefevre] is having to deal with her divorce and her mother and the person on the phone and new people that she’s meeting and it’s really her journey into discovering the truth about herself, I suppose. That’s a very simplistic way of putting it because it’s a very complicated film.

BUG: Yes it is. What role do you play in the film?
SM: She tries to get out of the house and so she decides to take some night classes and my character is a teacher in a school and they meet while she’s going to her night classes and she’s very wary of him at first I think because she’s worried of men at this point in her life, because of the divorce, and so this becomes about her learning to trust him and him being a sort of positive influence as opposed to a negative one and a relationship develops from there.

BUG: There’s a really interesting scene at the very beginning right when you meet her and it could come off as creepy, like a teacher kind of checking out a student, but somehow it doesn’t come off as that way. How did you do that?
[Both laugh] SM: It’s interesting, isn’t it? I mean, one of the fascinating things about being an actor is that one doesn’t know…there is a certain amount of trust that one gives to a director, because ultimately once you have done your performance you walk away and they choose which shots they are going to use, they choose how they are going to cut, what music they are going to play, and “How are they going to make me look?” Editing is a very powerful tool and so there was other footage of that scene where there are wides, you see that it’s all boys in the class, it’s all fifteen and sixteen-year-old boys who are doing mathematical engineering and in walks this kind of beautiful 30-year-old woman and she’s obviously in the wrong place and so he tries, in a very sort of sweet way, to suggest that she might have walked into the wrong class. But yeah, by approaching a woman in that way it could be seen as creepy. (laughs) That certainly wasn’t my intention.

BUG: It didn’t come off that way.
SM: Good.

BUG: So I hear that there was some kind of mysterious or creepy things that were happening on the set during the filming of the film? Did you have any experiences like that?
SM: I mean, there are so many things that happened on this shoot. There’s some legally that I’m not even allowed to talk about. There are some interesting things…I don’t know what Mathew [Parkhill] has told you. Have you interviewed Mathew yet?

BUG: I haven’t interviewed Mathew yet, but I just interviewed Sergio [Casci].
SM: There was this interesting thing where we were…it’s just crazy things, like we were in the supermarket and we were clearing away the shelves to put our own stuff up on the shelves, because there are certain limitation–you’re not allowed to advertise and stuff like that, and behind one of the shelves that was going to be right full view of the camera there was a cracked old perfume bottle that was called “Rose” which is the character that calls her on the phone. There were ghostly presences. There were people seeing things. There were phone calls that were coming in with wrong numbers. It was very strange. There were labor disputes. There were power outages. There were hairs in the gate and negatives that couldn’t be used and so it was like we were being conspired against and yet through that adversity often you get a really great film because it really pulls people together and I think that’s what happened. We ended up with a really fantastic tight little psychological thriller and it just goes to show that through adversity obviously sometimes you get the gems.

BUG: What films do you watch or take inspiration from, just to be in a film like this? Is there something that comes to mind?
SM: That’s a good question, but I can’t really…there’s not really a great answer that I could give you, but what I will say is I really love films that are shot in the old-fashioned filmic way where music and camera work and color and lighting and camera movement and performance are the things that create tension and not visual effects or digital effects or anything like that. This is an old-fashioned film with very little in that regard and, I think, all the better for it. It feels like you are watching…when it’s like that you feel like you are watching a film for real. As soon as stuff happens which is pretend, it takes you out of the film and for me, that is what makes this stand out. I came out thinking, “wow, we’ve made a movie.” It’s not some glossy…

BUG: You weren’t reacting to a green screen or anything like that.
SM: Yeah. it’s beautifully scored, as well. This is the first time I’ve heard the score and Mathew’s been talking to me about the score for a year and I thought the score was fantastic.

BUG: It was. And another aspect of that is just the phone ringing gets to be such a terrifying thing after a while. In the film, once you know what’s going to be happening it’s pretty scary.
SM: Yeah, it’s so interesting, isn’t it, how we can use sound or we can use light or we can use score, repetitive themes, I hadn’t noticed this, but I’m going to watch it again, every time we see Rose or every time we hear Rose when the phone rings, there is a score that goes with Rose and every time we see Rachelle’s character Mary there’s a score that goes with Mary and John has his own theme as well and that’s a common musical usage, but towards the end those scores start converging and it’s stuff like that. They converge for a reason, which I’m not going to give away, but it’s just an interesting thing to think about in terms of just the details that we have in filmmaking.

BUG: Yeah, it’s very subtle.
SM: Some of the soundscape that he creates so that we are hearing stuff…she’s not hearing it, it’s not live sounds, but it’s stuff that could be going on in her head that helps create the tension that we want. I was really impressed by that.

BUG: Had you seen the film before last night?
SM: That was the first time I had seen it.

BUG: So what did you think?
SM: I’m just really impressed by it. I think the Puerto Rican crew has done a fantastic job. The cinematography is beautiful. The focus work…we do a lot of racking focus from macro to long distance and some of that stuff is really effective. I’m always…I take photographs and one of the things I’m interested in is what is out of focus as opposed to what is in focus. I’m always looking to the soft areas, it’s just something that I’m sort of fascinated by.

BUG: And there’s this really creepy effect in the film where there is a person out of focus for a lot of scenes in the film, it’s this really creepy presence.
SM: And I thought that worked really well.

BUG: It did, it really did. So had you ever been to Puerto Rico before?
SM: I had never been here. We had an amazing time. I was only in, as I said, for nine days, and so we had to really rush me through. I got like one day off, I think, but Ed’s a friend of mine, Ed Quinn who plays Rachelle’s husband, and so we hung out and it was a lot of sitting on the beach going…

BUG: You guys were on TRUE BLOOD together.
SM: Yeah, and I read this and I spoke to Mathew and they were trying to think of somebody to cast in that part and I suggested Ed and so I was really pleased that he got the part.

BUG: So how did you even find out about this film?
SM: Oh my God…I can’t even really remember. I think it came from my agent at the time and Guido Giordano at the time, he’s not agenting now, but…I’ve made it clear to everybody that I’m interested in small films and small films that are made in the old fashioned way and that’s not to say that of course I’m not interested in the big stuff, but I love little tight thrillers and not necessarily horror, so they tend to sort of just send me everything and go “what do you think?” and I wade through…I love reading stories, and you know, it’s one of the things I get off on.

BUG: So let’s talk a tiny bit about TRUE BLOOD. I’m sure you will have a lot of questions like that. So it’s a huge hit. I watch it every week and I anticipate it. Every time the season is over, I can’t wait until it starts up again.
SM: It’s interesting, isn’t it? It has this…12 weeks…me and Anna were saying this, but 12 weeks doesn’t feel very long.

BUG: It doesn’t. It flies by.
SM: We shot for seven and a half months this year. We shoot longer episodes than anyone else on television. We are doing like 20 day episodes whereas your MAD MEN and BREAKING BAD do seven days per episode and we do 20… It’s a monster and then it’s over in 12 weeks. (laughs) It’s kind of heartbreaking.

Read the entire interview by going here:  aintitcool.com

2 Comments

  1. One of Stephen’s best interviews IMO. The interviewer was enthusiastic about the film and I loved that … enjoyed Stephen’s insights. I’m not a fan of the telephone, so a jangling phone repeated over a period of time would definitely creep me out. The fact that so many little odd things occurred intrigued me, especially this in Stephen’s words: “and behind one of the shelves that was going to be right full view of the camera there was a cracked old perfume bottle that was called “Rose” which is the character that calls her on the phone.” Talk about a ghostly presence!

  2. The mere presence of all these comments and informations makes me watch films I would never – under ordinary circumstances – have considered watching. The mere mention of Stephen Moyer having a role in Ultraviolet led to me recording and watching the film, and – although Stephen’s Vampire character is vanquished early – it was so worth it. Lighting, photography, directing, SFX … well not to mention the cast. Thank you, Stephen, for another inspiring insight into the marvellous world of visual storytelling. Btw. the same goes for Alexander Skarsgard – without him in the cast I would not have travelled to Zurich to watch Lars von Trier’s Melancholia at the Film Festival there. It was the deepest experience I ever had in a film theatre. And it all started with True Blood. What a world! I love modern media …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Send this to a friend