One of my favorite films of the year, is the noir haunted house inspired ABATTOIR from director Darren Lynn Bousman. The film centers around an investigative reporter who teams up with a detective (Joe Anderson) to solve the mystery behind a mysterious man who has been buying houses where tragedies have occurred. In preparation for the release of the film on December 9th, we spoke with actor Joe Anderson about his role as Declan Grady.
Shannon McGrew: Hi Joe, thank you for talking with me today. I’m a huge fan of your work and absolutely love your character in ABATTOIR. For those not familiar with your latest film, could you tell us a little bit about your character Declan Grady?
Joe Anderson: Of course. Declan is a young detective who has had a relationship with Jessica Lowndes character, Julia. They’ve gone their separate ways but there has always been something lingering. He gets roped into this insane situation which is what Jessica’s character is really putting together for herself. She’s a journalist and it’s as though she is doing the detective work for herself and pulls Declan into this situation. He’s a bit more of a pragmatist and he’s the kind of guy that only believes what he sees. I think he’s a very sort of base character, if you know what I mean. I don’t think he would believe in ghosts or hell or anything to do with that. As he gets pulled further and further into this madness it changes his viewpoint and it definitely changes their relationship throughout the movie. In a weird way it was sort of a reversed arc of belief and faith – he goes from not believing any of it and wanting to keep her (Jessica Lowndes) away from the madness and he ends up right in the thick of it and believing everything that he sees. That was an interesting arc for me and it was definitely one of the things that attracted me to the role.
SM: There’s a lot of references to classic noir cinema in this film, where there any actors or films from that era that you used as inspiration for your character?
JA: Darren Lynn Bousman and I talked a lot about the detective movies of the 1940’s, but for me, the guy that kind of stood out, was Deckard in BLADE RUNNER. There was something quite contemporary yet at the same time a noir-style vibe about him. That movie was definitely one that I looked at in terms of style and delivery and vocal cadence in how Jessica and I would bat and ball the dialogue; it had that 1940’s kind of rhythm to it. I remember we would talk a lot about the old black and white movies but then not wanting to nail that too hard on the nose because otherwise it becomes kind of a parody or a cartoon, so it was a real balance between keeping it contemporary but sort of infusing this 1940’s noir detective rhythm to it. That was really the only thing that I looked at that would fit this project in that sense in terms of it being very modern but at the same time having that stylized period feel to it. Other than that, I really just worked from the script itself because it was so rich and there was so much in it. For me as an actor I tend to go with what’s on the page as opposed to trying to delve into some other world just in case, for whatever reason, things change and you suddenly realize you’ve gone down a certain path and then you have to rewind and rethink, so I tend to work purely with what’s on the page and stick with that. Darren was incredibly descriptive as a director and has a lot of energy, so within two or three meetings with him we knew exactly the tonality of it and where to place it.
SM: As I mentioned before, I’ve been a fan of yours for quite some time, whether it was through your work in film, or television shows such as “Hannibal.” I have found that you tend to play characters that are pretty dark. Do you typically find yourself being drawn to those types of roles?
JA: It’s funny because at the beginning of my career in the States I would play characters in their late teens, early 20’s, like the one you see in the film ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, and I kind of wanted to move away from that and get into things that were more, I don’t want to say gritty, but I would say the characters themselves are more full and rounded and as far away from “me” as possible. I like the idea of inhabiting something that has nothing to do with me and that I would never get to inhabit in my life per say. Thing like “Hannibal” were such a leap, especially in developing the voice and doing the whole physicality of my character Mason Verger. To be honest, I find it easier to delve into one of those types of characters than somebody that is close to myself. I’ve always found it quite tricky, especially being an Englishman, playing the straight up and down American guy. It’s not that I get bored, it’s just that the people I’ve watched in my life, that I’m a fan of, I don’t see them doing straight up and down guys. Gary Oldman is someone I would look up to and watch and go “wow, I would love to be able to do that” so I guess that’s the influence. In terms of how mean or evil or grotesque these characters are, I think it’s just part of being able to do what you’re not allowed to do in real life and it’s fun to play the villain. The heroes tend to be heroic, they tend to be the same, and it’s always the villains that get to have a new take or a reinvention to make it fresh and exciting. That challenge in itself is probably something that I’m drawn to.
SM: With ABATTOIR now out, what can your fans expect from you in the future?
JA: I’m currently shooting a film called HANGMAN at the moment with Al Pacino, Brittany Snow, Karl Urban and myself. I’m playing a hangman in it and there’s a detective and a serial killer. I’m not going to go too much into it but there’s definitely, on my side, another interesting and juicy and horrible, yet quite entertaining, bad guy. We are shooting that now in Atlanta and it’s been an absolute blast especially working with Al Pacino. It’s like playing tennis with someone you’ve watched growing up (laughs).
SM: Well we will definitely keep our eyes out for that one. Again, thank you so much for speaking with me today and we wish you continued success with ABATTOIR and all your upcoming endeavors.
For more information on ABATTOIR and to purchase showtime tickets visit abattoir.info/theaters. ABATTOIR is now available in select theaters, VOD and Digital HD.