I’ve only done a handful of interviews in my lifetime, and most of them are through email because I tend to get tongue-tied and spew nonsense that makes me look like the star-struck fan that I am. And I don’t mind looking like a fan. But when I was offered the chance to interview India Eisley AND Jason Isaacs over the phone, I jumped at the chance. Granted, I do have a few phone interviews under my belt, but c’mon. We’re talking Lucius Malfoy here! Alas, I (hopefully) did not make a fool of myself, and we chatted about horror movies and their latest film, Look Away. Read on to find out what they had to say, and be sure to keep an eye out for my upcoming review.
Tiffany Blem: Because this film is so different for both of you, what was it about the script that intrigued you and made you want to be a part of this project?
India Eisley: Well, I initially was very drawn to playing a split personality. I’ve always wanted to do that kind of role. And I was familiar with Assaf’s work because I love The Debt, and so immediately when I was going in to audition, I knew who was behind this entire project and I was like “Oh, God! I really want to work with him.” And then I found out that Jason had signed on, and so it was like every base was covered.
Jason Isaacs: And they were paying money? And there was free food? Similarly, I was a mad addict of Fauda, a series that Assaf directed that won every single award in Israel, so I knew he was a brilliant director. And then I read the script. I’m a father of teenage daughters. I recognized what it’s like when they’re unnoble to you and I recognized what it’s like for them when they become cripplingly self-conscious or very concerned about how they look. And this is something of an allegory, taking it to a grotesque and entertaining level, and I thought it was a subject that made sense to me and was interesting to explore.
Tiffany Blem: And that was one of the things I wanted to ask you, Jason. Your character was so obsessed with appearances and body image. How do you feel about people that share your character’s outlook?
Jason Isaacs: Well, I don’t know that anyone shares it to quite the extreme degree that he does, because we tell stories to experience extremes through other people. But I’m aware there is a generation of people who take a thousand pictures of themselves a day and only post the most flattering and maybe even altered ones. And that sends out messages, deceptive messages to everyone else. I think it’s clearly, obviously damaging an entire generation. And I’m in the entertainment business, so I’ve been surrounded by people who are obsessed with how they look and how they preserve their looks or improve their looks all my working life. And it only ever leads to unhappiness, spiraling unhappiness.
Tiffany Blem: I can agree with that. India, you played a dual role in this film. Was that something that was hard to do?
India Eisley: It really wasn’t, because I was so excited to do it. It was also in the writing that the two characters were so distinct, but they were distinct in aspects of emotion and very human feelings that, I think, everyone can relate to and everyone has inside of them, that you don’t always confront. So it’s really just the job of the actor to have that outlook, to explore those feelings.
Tiffany Blem: Also, your character was harassed and degraded, essentially being bullied throughout the whole film. What are you thoughts on the recent influx of bullying that’s happening in schools these days?
India Eisley: The good thing about social media is it’s bringing attention to it. Bullying has been around since humans have been around, I think. I think it is wrong. It can strengthen [a person], but if it crosses a point and feels like it’s really damaging, whoever is being bullied needs to feel like they can talk to someone about it and not repress it. It’s really heartbreaking because so many people do it out of not knowing how to deal with their own feelings, so they just jump to the emotion of just being angry at someone, and taking it out on other people. It’s not something I’ve ever related to, really.
Tiffany Blem: And that’s one thing I loved about this film is that I think it’s going to be what a lot of people wish that they could do… to actually see it happen and the possible repercussions that could happen to you if you were to get your wish of actually being able to do everything that you have in your mind.
India Eisley: Yeah, being unfiltered.
Jason Isaacs: We all live with that person inside of our head the whole time. “What if I just said this to you? What if I punch you? What if I fuck you? What if I stole that? What if I didn’t put up with this treatment?” And then you do the thing that you probably think is the right thing to do, or leaves the right impression because of your low status, and then you carry the consequences of that in you, whether you feel bad or good about. But this is not a cautionary tale, exactly. I think it might send a message to anyone that was thinking of acting out on all of their instincts.
Tiffany Blem: The film was beautifully shot with gorgeous scenery. I loved seeing the snow… being from Arizona, I don’t get to see that very often. And the house was amazing. Where was this filmed, and how long did filming take?
India Eisley: We filmed in Winnipeg in Canada. It was over five weeks, wasn’t it?
Jason Isaacs: Yes. We went there because Assaf chose the house because it’s all glass, and he wanted there to be snow outside because it always snows there. In fact, the climate is changing so fast that they’ve never not had snow, but they had no snow at all outside of the windows. It wasn’t quite the picture he wanted, but it was the picture of aesthetic cleanliness that he wanted.
India Eisley: But then the snow came.
Jason Isaacs: But then the snow came, right at the end!
Tiffany Blem: India, with this being such a far cry from your character, Ashley, in Secret Life of the American Teenager, what made you want to take on such a meaty role?
India Eisley: Oh, um… how do I answer this? (laughs) You know, the role of Ashley was not a creatively fulfilling role. It was my first role, and I’m grateful to it for that, but ultimately, I grew up watching things like Sybil, and I wanted to do that. It’s what immediately made me want to get into acting, and so I’ve always been drawn to darker material and darker films, because I think it’s more interesting. It’s just not interesting to play happy people. (laughs)
Jason Isaacs: Nobody buys a ticket to watch the village of the happy people! We see stories, so we live cathartically through other people’s nightmares and tragedies, so we can feel better about ourselves.
Tiffany Blem: Jason, this is not your first thriller or sci-fi film. You have quite an impressive resume. What draws you to this type of film?
Jason Isaacs: I’m old. I’ve been working for 30 years. There’s a few things in my past, but otherwise, I’d be working in a cake shop. Well, there is no “this type of film.” Actually, I’m not even sure what genre this fits into, to be honest with you. I just like human beings that I recognize that have got some inner conflict going on, and are involved in the story so that when I’m reading it, it makes me want to turn the page. I don’t know what happens next. In this past year, I was in Star Trek, and The Death of Stalin, a couple of indies, and The OA and this, and they all essentially look very different on the page, but they’re not really. They’re just interesting characters in a dilemma, and their stories played out in a way I’d find interesting if I were watching it.
Tiffany Blem: And because we are a horror website, I do love to ask, what is your favorite scary movie?
Jason Isaacs: Oh, well. We actually overlap on this.
India Eisley: The Babadook.
Jason Isaacs: Recently, it is The Babadook, but The Exorcist is the godfather of them all, as far as I’m concerned.
We at PopHorror want to thank both Jason Isaacs and India Eisley for taking the time to talk to us. Stay tuned for our upcoming review of Look Away!