If you couldn’t tell from my previous interview with writer/director Rob Grant, I love HARPOON and if you haven’t seen it yet, you really need to get on that. The film, which centers on three friends who find themselves stranded on a boat in the middle of the ocean, stars a small cast of three young, up-and-comers: Munro Chambers, Emily Tyra and Christopher Gray. With the film being set mostly on a boat, HARPOON does a genius job of building cringe-worthy suspense as well as being quite bloody.
Recently, I was lucky enough to speak with the cast of HARPOON where we discussed their respective roles, what type of superpowers they would want, what’s next for them, and, of course, horror movies.
What intrigued you about HARPOON and made you want to be a part of it?
Emily Tyra: When Rob [Grant] first sent me the script, I was really interested in how it read like a stage play. Three characters in one location keep you engaged for 97 pages is quite a feat for a writer. I loved how the trio builds their relationship verbally and physically in a confined area until the stakes are so high you just accept the new rules as they happen. The tension rises really rapidly but the balance of it keeps you gripped until the very final twist.
Christopher Gray: I loved the premise, the idea of being a part of a small cast, the witty dialogue, and the brutal actions. I met with Rob over FaceTime and we immediately started throwing ideas back and forth in an organic way. He gave some references for the film and also sent over two of his previous works: Fake Blood and What Doesn’t Kill You. Those two films are kickass. I got so freaking excited and was headed up to Canada to shoot HARPOON a few weeks later.
Munro Chambers: There was a lot about the script I loved. To name a few – it’s a unique tone, having a minimal cast in an isolated location, and all three characters were a wonderful challenge for the actors who got to play them. It wasn’t just a one-note script and I love being able to tackle something I’ve never done before and ultimately that challenged me as an actor.
Being that you three are the entire cast, you all had to work very closely together. What is your fondest memory of shooting?
Emily Tyra: Chris, Munro and I knew we had to get to know each other really quickly during the rehearsal process in order to make our complex friendship feel truthful on screen. We started shooting the interior scenes in Calgary in the middle of the winter so we all had to go get spray tans before our first shoot day. The tanning solution had to set in for 24 hours and we couldn’t wear tight clothes or go anywhere. We ended up sockless in our pajamas hanging out in one of the hotel rooms bonding over a few too many drinks. We had a lot of good laughs and deep chats that night.
Christopher Gray: They are the best. Emily, Munro, and I had so many laughs and heart to hearts during the production. I look back on our three days of rehearsal with a ton of love. We would wake up, go rehearse in the conference room of the hotel, have lunch together, go back to rehearsal, go eat dinner together, and then talk into the night over a drink or two. We got a lot of bonding in during those three days that really helped us fuel the chemistry seen in the film.
Munro Chambers: We were very lucky to be able to have three days of rehearsal leading up to filming and for me that was special. To be able to play with our characters and try things without fear or judgment was really important for a script like this. We built a foundation of confidence, support and friendship within those days, and I’ll never forget that.
The film is very intense and emotional, and it’s in such a small space. How did you prepare for your roles?
Emily Tyra: One of my fears is feeling trapped or confined. I’m not claustrophobic but the concept of having no emotional or physical exit available is deeply terrifying to me. I did not have to do much to prepare other than just really let the scenes happen to me. I would also get up in the dark most days and run a few miles on the treadmill before heading to set. That put me a little closer to a state of true exhaustion and just raised my personal stakes during the day.
Christopher Gray: Oh, I am going to sound so lame. So, I spent a lot of time in the gym leading up to filming. Richard is a tense hot head and I am a bit of a softie. So, I would head to the gym and just try and live in the tension and aggression. The way I decided Richard dealt with his emotions was through tension and suppression. I would get all pumped up…literally.
Munro Chambers: All three of these characters are quite complicated, damaged and vulnerable. We knew what we were getting ourselves into, but having that trust between the actors and director is very important. You do your homework the weeks/nights leading up, and when they call action, you just try to have as much fun as you can and trust the people around you.
Switching gears, if you could have any superpower, what would it be? And would you use it for good or evil?
Emily Tyra: I’d love to have the power to always know when someone is telling the truth. Like a sixth sense human lie detector. I would definitely use it for good and blow whistles all over the place. I’d probably have to keep it a secret though, which is sort of ironic.
Christopher Gray: I would love to be able to teleport. After seeing that movie Jumper, I think it would be so fun to just be hopping all around. I would use it for good and a lot of fun.
Munro Chambers: I’ve always liked anything fantasy related whether that was The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars or X-Men. It’s so hard to speak of a specific power/ability without going too deep into descriptions and origin. So I will just say some of my favorite characters/types. In no specific order, Aragorn, Legolas, Nightcrawler and the Grey Jedi. That should give you insight on which side I would fight for.
When it comes to scary movies, what is your favorite?
Emily Tyra: I get extremely spooked during scary movies!! Especially one with strong imagery. My parents let me watch The Shining a little bit too early in life. I remember not sleeping for a week when I was 9 years old. I like psychological thrillers or cross-genre horrors like Seven or Get Out. I love Tarantino, Fincher and the Coen Brothers but you could not pay me to go see IT, The Ring and pretty much any M. Night Shyamalan is off-limits, too.
Christopher Gray: I know this is not a classic horror film, but Ex Machina was the scariest movie I have ever seen. Luckily, I had the luxury of watching it at home, so I could get up and pace during the tense parts. At the end of the film, I was just like, “Damn. This will happen in my lifetime.”
Munro Chambers: Two of my favorite films are Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Stephen King’s The Shining.
Lastly, are there any projects you are currently working on?
Emily Tyra: I’m back in the theatre world currently! I’m playing Cassie in A Chorus Line at the Signature Theatre in DC. It’s a dream role of mine and the show has been brilliantly re-choreographed and re-imagined by Denis Jones and Matt Gardiner. It is the first time the Michael Bennett estate has allowed any official changes to the original classic so it’s a very exciting production to be a part of. I am singing and dancing again after working solely on camera for the last 6 years. It is hard and rewarding work!
Christopher Gray: I have three projects coming out in 2020. So, that will be fun to see them come out. Right now, I am trying to find the next project to be a part of.
Munro Chambers: Currently I have a film called Entangled, that will have its Canadian Premiere at the Whistler Film Festival in the beginning of December, and two more films that will get release dates next year.
HARPOON is currently available to stream and you can read Nightmarish Conjuring’s review of the film here.