[Interview] Steven Cree for THE TWIN

[Interview] Steven Cree for THE TWIN
Courtesy Shudder
In THE TWIN, following the aftermath of a tragic accident that claimed the life of one of their twins, Rachel (Teresa Palmer) and husband Anthony (Steven Cree) relocate to the other side of the world with their surviving son in the hopes of building a new life. What begins as a time of healing in the quiet Scandinavian countryside soon takes an ominous turn when Rachel begins to unravel the torturous truth about her son and confronts the malicious forces attempting to take a hold of him.

Last month, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Sarah Musnicky got to chat with Steven Cree, where they discussed how personal the film became for the actor, reuniting once more with his A Discovery of Witches costar Teresa Palmer, and how the film highlights, albeit briefly, male grief.

I’m still processing THE TWIN, but there’s a richness to it that I wasn’t expecting going into it. With that said, how did you come to be involved with this project?

Steven Cree: So, Teresa Palmer, who plays Rachel, we were doing a TV show called A Discovery of Witches (editor’s note: you can watch that on Shudder now), and had gotten along fantastic. And towards the end of season three, when we were still deep into lockdown in Wales, Teresa got offered THE TWIN. She told me about it straight away and actually suggested that she thought I would be a great fit for Anthony. But, at that point, I had been working away in Wales for a while. Doing THE TWIN would mean because of the lockdown situation that I wasn’t going to be able to get home for two months. So, I didn’t pursue it at that point, and then fast forward a couple of months, at the very last minute they had to recast Anthony. Basically, Teresa suggested me to Aleksi [Hyvärinen] and Taneli [Mustonen]. And, kind of fortuitously as well, I knew the casting director over here, so they kind of pushed me for it, and Aleksi and Taneli said yes. I didn’t have to audition for it, which is very unusual for me.

But also very nice because auditions can be a lot.

Steven Cree: Very nice. I could have easily auditioned for this movie and not got it. The audition process is quite crazy. So, it’s suddenly just this amazing opportunity, and I felt this fantastic script and this great part suddenly landed in my lap, and so I had a discussion with my wife about it and we thought we can kind of get through two months. As I’ve said before, I’ve got a four-year-old daughter, and she was three at the time, and obviously, this is a film examining a couple who are grieving the loss of one of their twins. I remember I dropped my daughter off at nursery that day when I was leaving, and I was going to the airport afterward, and knowing that I wasn’t going to see her for two months was…it still sort of upsets me a little bit now. But for the mindset of playing a character who has actually suffered the loss of his child and is never going to see him again, I can’t imagine. It felt horrific enough being away for two months. And in a kind of strange way, it almost helped my mindset the time that I was out in Estonia doing the film.

Photo Credit: Heikki Leis/Shudder

One of the things that I really appreciated about this film and your character specifically is that it shows us male grief. I feel like, especially within our society, there’s more pressure on men to be stoic, to be more put together. I don’t know if you would like to touch on that, because your character does get a chance to grieve and showcase that grief openly on screen, which I thought was unusual.

Steven Cree: I think actually there were other moments in there that we filmed that haven’t quite made it into the final version, where you saw some more of that as well. As you see in the movie, it was trying to create a fine line with Anthony, between showing a bit but not showing too much. And also, he’s trying to keep everything together in front of Rachel. He’s trying to keep himself from unraveling as well. He’s suffering immensely too, but kind of trying to spin a lot of plates without falling apart as well. And I think that is something that really appealed to me about the script. Yes, it’s a horror and yes, it’s a psychological thriller, but I thought it was a really interesting examination of how parents or how people handle grief. And the great thing about horror, I think, is it’s a little bit kind of like Shakespeare in a way. I’m not a big Shakespeare fan, but the great thing about Shakespeare, and what I love about horror as well, is you can take ordinary or everyday situations and make them quite fantastical. It’s exciting to watch them from an actor’s point of view. It’s exciting to play as well.

But, like I was saying, maybe it’s because I was in Estonia on my own for two months. It was a lot of solitude. It was locked down. We were in the middle of nowhere. I spent most of my time on my own. I don’t necessarily stay in character all day when I’m on set. But certainly, this film got more under my skin than before. It’s hard actually when you’re trying to be in the mindset of somebody who’s lost a child. I found it hard to actually switch off at the end of the day, and I’ve never really had that on a job before. But also, that’s actually in some sort of weird fucked up way, it’s kind of part of the fun of doing something like that.

Because of how personal the film was, what would you say was the most difficult scene for you to shoot?

Steven Cree: There was a scene, actually, you only see a snippet of it in the film, because it’s in a sort of montage type sequence. But on the day that we filmed it, there was a scene where I had to tell Rachel that our son has died. And in the movie, you see a sort of a flash of this, but there was a little bit before that where I delivered the news to her. There was something about that day, and it really got to me. And the final edit is slightly different from how we’d filmed on the day, but I couldn’t stop crying afterward after we’d done it. And I was in such a weird place almost in my head as well on that day. Because normally, at the end of the day, they’ll drive you back to your hotel or drag you back to your apartment and I said, “Look, I’m happy to just walk home today,” and just I kinda just needed to clear my head and be with my thoughts. And as I say, it’s interesting, because the idea of being a method actor anyway, it’s kind of odd, because I think every job requires a different method. You get into it a different way, but it helped [here].

In general, I think all of us can relate to that given the timing. I could not have delivered a hospital scene like that without completely losing my shit with everything that’s happened the past couple of years. So, I commend you for that.

Steven Cree: Yeah. We were in the middle of nowhere. It was minus 25. I’ve never been as cold in my life. They’re amazing, incredible scenes, and I thought people are gonna think we fake this. In the morning, it would be thick snow. And then by 12 o’clock or one o’clock lunchtime, the snow had gone and the sun was out. It was incredible.

Did you shoot in the Spring?

Steven Cree: Yeah, it was kind of late winter/early spring, but the winters in Estonia last a long time. When I got out there, it was minus 30 degrees. Honestly, there were some scenes where we filmed outside and it was a real struggle to speak. And also, as well doing an accent too. There were days when I could hardly get my lips to move.

Photo Credit: Heikki Leis/Shudder

Oh yeah, cause the tongue placement is different when you switch between the accents.

Steven Cree: Yeah. Exactly. But again, that adds to it. And Daniel Lindholm, the DP, has just done such an incredible job. We had the premiere in Finland three weeks ago on a big IMAX screen. And I just think it looks like a work of art with so many beautiful shots in that movie.

The fields of sunflowers, every time they go back to that sequence, I get so happy.

Steven Cree: Yeah, it looks fantastic. And I also I love the, I don’t know if I can talk about it, but the ritual later on.

We’ll keep the rest of that under wraps for now. Briefly shifting gears, but what was it like to work with Tristan [Ruggeri]? Because working with children is like a game of luck sometimes.

Steven Cree: Yeah. They say don’t work with children or animals. I’ve been very lucky actually, because of the film Martyr’s Lane, I wrote an article on that last year with the headline being they say never work with children or animals. But I got very lucky. Those two children, and I don’t know if you saw the movie, but those two children were so good. They were so fantastic, and they were just real naturals. Tristan was the same on this as well. He had to be out there for two months as well, which was a big thing for a 10-year-old. He’s got great parents. His mom and his dad are so lovely and were such a fantastic influence and sort of helped to keep them grounded through the whole process. Again, it’s difficult to say too much without giving anything away. But my working relationship with him was really interesting. But I think he’s done such a fantastic job for a kid who had very little filming experience, and for somebody who was so sweet and so cute and such a lovely kid in real life, he’s so fucking creepy.

And he gets rude in the film too.

Steven Cree: Yeah. It’s really weird what the camera does to people sometimes. You can be looking at somebody, and then you look at them on the monitor, and it’s like a different person. Sometimes you see a real person. You see them there, and then you look at the monitor, and it’s a movie star. Some people the camera just loves and Tristan, when he just stands and does nothing, it just looked really scary. And I think, there’s a fantastic scene with him and Teresa, it’s one of the creepiest and scariest scenes in the movie, and he does such a great job.

To wrap things up, what do you hope people take away from this film? I know for me, it was just riding the grief train for me, personally.

Steven Cree: I absolutely hope people enjoy it. It’s difficult because you get to the end of a process like this and, in one sense, you don’t want to be reliant on the validation of outside people, to validate this piece of work that everyone’s created. But by the same token, what is the point in creating a piece of work like this for visual consumption and people don’t enjoy it. So I do hope that people first and foremost just enjoy the movie. For me, I would be interested if people watch it and then want to watch it again. Because that’d be interesting to me.

I do want to watch it again to see what else can be picked up.

Steven Cree: So, that would be interesting to me. I just love Aleksi and Taneli, who created this, and as an actor, you come on to the project a few years down the line when it’s already been in development for ages, and there’s so much hard work and so much dedication, and so much love and care that’s gone into it. And for these two Finnish filmmakers, the film’s getting released in so many countries worldwide. It’s already a success for them and I just hope that it’s as well-received as it can be, but I know that everyone’s proud of it regardless.

THE TWIN is available to watch on Shudder platforms in the US, Canada, UKI and ANZ, as well as On Demand and Digital in the US and Canada. To learn more about the film, check out our review!

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Sarah Musnicky
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