Imagine, if you will, that the dead could share their stories from beyond the grave. In the horror anthology BOOKS OF BLOOD, that’s just the case as we meet Mary (Anna Friel), a skeptic of the supernatural who is presented with the unimaginable when she meets Simon (Rafi Gavron), a supposed medium that has a message for her from her dead son. For the release of the film, I had the opportunity to speak with both Anna Friel and Rafi Gavron about their segment where they discussed everything from Rafi’s full-body prosthetics to the existence of the supernatural.
Synopsis: Based on Clive Barker’s acclaimed and influential horror anthology BOOKS OF BLOOD, this feature takes audiences on a journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three uncanny tales tangled in space and time. The series stars Britt Robertson, Rafi Gavron, Anna Friel, Yul Vazquez, and Freda Foh Shen.
Thank you both so much for speaking with me today. This story is based on the first story in Volume One of Books of Blood. Were you familiar with the story prior to filming?
Anna Friel: I wasn’t aware of it. The first time I heard about it was when I read the script and looked it up. Did you know about it, Rafi?
Rafi Gavron: No and I haven’t read it. I just looked at the script and just did what I could and left.
How was it bringing your characters to life? How did you approach the roles?
Rafi Gavron: I related to the character quite a lot and found it…I wouldn’t say easy but easy, in order to kind of approach it. I don’t feel like it was too much of a stretch, not that I’m a con man or a piece of shit necessarily but I was able to use my own accent and just kind of do my own thing. I just related to him in many ways. I didn’t find there was a huge amount to do personally, other than try my best.
Anna Friel: He’s just modest. He had to wear the most uncomfortable prosthetics that you ever did see in your life. He did have to mentally prepare for that because it took six hours of patience. And you had to have your bare naked chest out quite a lot so we had to work at that, didn’t we Rafi? (laughs). Rafi won the stakes on being able to keep his British accent so I had to brush up on my American one and ground it in reality. [Brannon] didn’t want big performances, he just wanted it naturalistic and to make sure we knew our lines.
Speaking of the prosthetics, Rafi, can you talk about your experience with having that applied on you cause that looked insanely intense?
Rafi Gavron: Yeah it was about $200,000 worth of prosthetics so for me to deny it would have been impossible and it was part of the deal. In many ways, I was thrilled about it but it was very uncomfortable because it was silicon. It made your body very cold and very hot, it completely hugged me. It was seven hours in the chair and the team that did it were just the most amazing people and lovely so it was an easy process in that sense. I had to fall asleep and be fed Snickers bars while I was on my back while putting this shit on. It was a mad experience but it turned out the way that they hoped, I think. I was pleased with it, but yeah, it was tough. I don’t want to do that again.
Anna Friel: Watching Rafi have to go through such discomfort it was just “god damn don’t have to do a second take, get it right” – mines the easy bit compared to what he had to go through. He’d either get really cold or far, far too hot, depending on what sets we were on. So it was about getting him in and out. I know Rafi quite well now and what makes him grumpy (laughs).
Anna – can you talk a little bit about your character, Mary, and the emotions surrounding the loss of her child?
Anna Friel: I think I’m naturally an empath and have had my times of vulnerabilities and I don’t like people abusing vulnerability – using that in other people to make themselves feel stronger or better. I like that she exposes frauds. I’m a mother so there’s nothing worse that could happen than losing a child and for someone then to abuse that, her grief, is despicable. I really, really dislike people who prey on the vulnerable.
When it came to filming, was there a scene you did either individually or together that you were excited to see come to life in the finished product?
Anna Friel: Are you really going to ask me that? (laughs). It’s obviously when I have to kiss Rafi!
Rafi Gavron: Awe you are so sweet! They didn’t let us go far enough! It was some PG-shit but we were heading for the bedroom there.
Anna Friel: My favorite film’s The Graduate (laughs).
Rafi Gavron: That was a lovely scene. As far as acting is concerned, the scene that we did together in the bedroom, where I was drunk, Anna killed it and it made it much easier for me. And we were able to get physical and actually have her kind of hit me and stuff. That’s something that we wanted to do and that I asked for personally, and it just made it so much more real. I just loved doing that scene. That was something I appreciated doing with her. It was great.
Anna Friel: Yeah, me too. We kind of longed for more of those but there wasn’t enough time in the film.
What are your thoughts on the supernatural and do you think there’s a basis for it being real?
Anna Friel: It would be kind of dull, wouldn’t it, to think that we’re the only things that exist in the entire universe. I’m a bit obsessed with space at the moment. I think we’re all desperate for some hope, I think that’s what the world needs now. If you go back to when man landed on the moon, everybody joined together collectively and we had something to say: “look what we can do as a human race”. I really think we’re at that stage in life now where like lets land on Mars or let’s do something that joins all the countries together, something a little bit positive. Supernatural….I don’t know. I always wonder where our souls go and has anyone ever come back from death. You can never say never. I don’t like to think of them too much so I don’t freak myself out. I couldn’t watch a horror movie on my own, no way.
Rafi Gavron: I look at it in the same way as I do God. I’m not a religious person, I’m slightly spiritual, essentially an atheists, but whether you believe in God or not, there is no more proof that he exists then he doesn’t exist unless you’re looking solely at science. And so I think that the supernatural, it’s the same concept, which is that I can’t prove it doesn’t exist, so I’d be remiss to say it doesn’t exist.
BOOKS OF BLOOD is now available to stream on Hulu. For more on the film, check out our review here.
- [TIFF 2021 Interview] Jenna Cato Bass for GOOD MADAM - September 16, 2021
- [Article] How Basket Case’s Legacy Carries on in James Wan’s MALIGNANT - September 15, 2021
- [Interview] Prano Bailey-Bond for CENSOR - September 15, 2021