Sunday, September 26, 2010

Interview with Brian Geraghty - June 20th, 2009

Promoting: The Hurt Locker and Easier With Practice
Venue: Delegate Centre, Edinburgh Film Festival
Interview type: One-on-one

ViewLondon (VL): What's the film about and who do you play?

Brian Geraghty (BG): The film's about three guys who are doing a job and they happen to be in a war. I play Specialist Owen Eldridge, who's kind of like a regular young guy, going through extraordinary circumstances in war.

VL: Can you explain the title?

BG: It's called The Hurt Locker, which is like the ultimate place of pain. It's not explained in the film, but I think it's a literary reference from somewhere. It's basically like, we'd joke and say, “Ah, I'm in the hurt locker” after a rough day of working, you know, being out in the sun.

VL: What attracted you to the part and how did you get involved in the film?

BG: I went to [director Kathryn Bigelow]'s house and just had an audition with [co-star Jeremy Renner], who was already cast, and we read and whatever. It didn't go great, I didn't think, but they'd liked me and thought I was right for it. And then I really read the script and I was like, 'I gotta do this, it's an amazing role'. It's an action film but it is at war and there's only really three central characters. It was very attractive.

VL: You said you didn't think the audition went very well. Had they seen you in Jarhead?

BG: I think they might have seen some things. I don't know if that was a help or, you know, was a problem or whatever, but I think they thought I approached work with integrity.

VL: What was it like working with Kathryn?

BG: I mean, she's just incredible, you know, to see her vision. I had no idea it was going to be that intense. She's doing a thousand things at once, talking to us, making us feel comfortable. Never sleeps, she looks beautiful all the time.

VL: How did her directing style compare to other directors you've worked with?

BG: For this particular movie, it was very different because she kind of just let us go. We had two to four cameras going the whole time so it was kind of like, 'Don't worry about the cameras, just do your thing and we'll find you', so it was kind of like a documentary style. It was freeing, for us, as actors.

VL: But you had to stick to the script, presumably?

BG: Yeah, we stuck to the script. I mean, there was a moment here or there that came out that's in the film but we stuck to the script. They were great words, so...

VL: So she didn't exactly encourage improvisation but she didn't mind...?

BG: Well, spontaneity, not just taking something and putting it in there to improvise. It comes out of the moment of what we're doing and little moments would happen but it wasn't like she would do multiple takes and encourage us to do something different each time, no. The scenes were well put together and crafted.

VL: The film has a fantastic cast. What was it like working with Jeremy Renner?

BG: I was a big fan of his. I love Dahmer – he's incredible in that. He's the nicest, greatest guy. And Anthony Mackie, who I know – we did We Are Marshall, we played best friends – so it was really, just easy.

VL: Did Kathryn see something in you and Anthony already knowing each other?

BG: I don't know, again. I mean, yeah, they kind of took that into consideration but you know, we're actors, we can act like we're best friends. I think it was more about finding the right people in her mind.

VL: Without giving too much away, there are some big-name cameos in the film. Was that a deliberate thing? Did Kathryn go after those actors deliberately?

BG: I think for the initial one, she set it up that way. And it's kind of genius, because it's like, 'Wow, the lead actor just died – no-one's safe'. But her and Ralph [Fiennes] obviously are friends from when they made Strange Days so she was like, 'Can you come out and play?' And David Morse, she wanted someone commanding and he was terrific.

VL: It seems to be a received wisdom, rightly or wrongly, that people don't go and see Iraq movies. Was that a concern for the film?

BG: Yeah, I think it always was. They've positioned it differently, because I think it's not an Iraq war movie – that's the backdrop. It's really an action movie about three guys and this one guy and how he's dealing with his job.

VL: How did that affect the film getting made in the first place?

BG: I think it was a smaller budget than usual but it was really about trusting Kathryn. I mean, she had all the power – I can't get any money for a movie. But to not have to cast big stars – not that Jeremy's not on his way – but to not have big movie stars that are going to put people in seats, that's a tough aim for that size movie.

VL: What was the shoot like? Was it tough shooting in the desert?

BG: Well, it was as tough as making a fun movie and one of the best jobs you've ever had in your life can be, but yeah it was very hot and strenuous but ultimately it was pretty incredible. We were in Amman, Jordan and we shot for three months.

VL: What was the hardest scene to film?

BG: The U.N. building for me, because I had a lot of running to do and it was continuous takes. But it was fun, it was more like doing a play with action. And the sniper scene was hot and sandy, but I think that was one of the most beautiful scenes in the film.

VL: What research did you do?

BG: I trained with the E.O.D (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) down in Fort Irwin and we basically just learned about the bomb suit, how to put it on, blasting caps, the bombs, 155s, all of that. And then we did weapons training and had to simulate how we'd go into a building and so on. And we had advisors out there to help us too, plus we talked to people who actually did the job and got some personal insight from them.

VL: Did they cut anything out that you hated to lose?

BG: It's been so long, we shot it about two years ago, but I don't think so, no.

VL: Do you have a favourite scene in the film?

BG: The sniper scene is my favourite, for sure. I think it's just beautiful, I love all the characters going through real moments and the guys coming in. It was such a fun thing, it could be its own little movie in a way.

VL: What's your next project?

BG: I'm supposed to start this movie called Open House, it's kind of a horror, thriller, genre film where I play a sociopathic killer. So I'm trying to work that out. And I'm also in this movie called Easier With Practice, which is sort of a phone-sex road-trip movie – that's how we're selling it. It's a completely different character from The Hurt Locker for me. It's been exciting – it's at Edinburgh and people are liking it and it also just won the Grand Jury prize at CineVegas.

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