IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: James D'Arcy Talks 'In Their Skin' and 'Hitchcock'

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 20:45 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: James D'Arcy Talks 'In Their Skin' and 'Hitchcock'

English actor James D’Arcy has been very busy recently with not one but two different movies currently in theaters and another high profile film opening before the end of the month. 

D’Arcy is probably best known to American audiences for his roles in such films as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Exorcist: The Beginning, and W.E., which was directed by Madonna. Now, the actor can currently be seen playing four different roles in director Tom Tykwer and The Washowskis’ epic movie Cloud Atlas, as well as the new thriller In Their Skin, which also stars Selma Blair and opened in theaters on November 9th. Then, later this month, he can be seen portraying iconic Psycho actor Anthony Perkins in the highly anticipated biopic Hitchcock, which opens in theaters on November 23rd. 

In Their Skin marks Jeremy Power Regimbal’s directorial debut and stars Selma Blair and Joshua Close (who also wrote the screenplay) as Mary and Mark Hughes, a married couple dealing with the recent death of their young daughter. Along with their son they travel to a remote cottage for a brief vacation that is violently interrupted when a murderous family led by the homicidal Bobby (D’Arcy) and Jane (Rachel Miner) invade the house looking to steal the Hughes’ identity in search of the “perfect” life. 

I recently had a chance to speak with actor James D’Arcy about his work on In Their Skin, as well as Hitchcock. The talented actor discussed In Their Skin, its dark tone, preparing emotionally for the role, acting opposite the film’s screenwriter, working with a first time director, Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins performance as the legendary director, and how D’Arcy prepared to play actor Anthony Perkins.

Here is what the talented actor had to say:

IAR: To begin with, this is a very creepy and disturbing thriller. What was the mood like on set for you and the rest of the cast while you were shooting? 

James D’Arcy: The four of us got on very well and we all seemed to have a pretty similar attitude, which was that we could work and try our best, but then in the evenings we'd try and find the greatest sushi restaurant in Vancouver. Some of those scenes are necessarily very uncomfortable to shoot. The scene where Joshua and Selma have to have sex while I'm watching them, nobody wants to shoot that! It's very uncomfortable, but hopefully it has the right traumatic effect in the movie. Then, in the scenes like the very uncomfortable dinner scene, it was hard not to laugh because it was it was so uncomfortable. We all kind of wanted to get the giggles, but Jeremy would shoot the whole scene in one take. So you have eight pages of this really uncomfortable stuff and you didn't want to blow it by laughing. We knew that the longer we could hold the silence, the weirder and the more uncomfortable it would be for Josh, Selma, and hopefully for an audience watching it. That was the hope anyway. 

Actor Joshua Close also wrote the movie’s screenplay, so is it helpful or distracting to have the film’s screenwriter as your co-star?

D’Arcy: It’s really helpful. When I first met Jeremy and Josh, they conceived the character quite differently. It was written as a very straight-up redneck that kind of steamrolls his way into this family's life and there was no hint of them trying to become the other family. So when I met them I said, look, I think this picture's terrific, but I don't think I'm your guy. If you want to shoot it the way that you’ve written it then I'm not the obvious candidate to play that. But I think there's another way so could I make a suggestion of how I think I could approach it if you were interested. I said that with some tentativeness because I was having a conversation with a man who spent a long time writing that script. Josh said, “I want to hear your ideas.” So I suggested what I thought we could try to do. It was there in the script that my character changes and wears Josh’s character’s shirt and I said, but what if he really tries to become them? So they are eventually wearing all of their clothes. What if they end up trying to become them from the inside out? Josh got really excited about it and said, “That's great! Then I could do this, this and this.” I hope what we ended up with is something that is just sort of a slightly new look at the home invasion movie. Although in reality I have never actually watched a home invasion movie so I don't know what the traditional look at it would be like. But you know that would be my hope, that we've done something that those people who have seen home invasion films before would be able to say, well, this is a little bit different. 

In Their Skin is director Jeremy Power Regimbal’s first full-length feature film, so what was it like working with him? Did he have a specific vision that he wanted to achieve?

D’Arcy: Yes, he had an idea of how he wanted to approach it. Honestly, and I mean this is a kind of complimentary way, he was very hands off until he felt like he had to inject a direction in order to get the tone of the movie he was going for. But you know the film is structured around maybe five quite long scenes. His idea to shoot the scenes from beginning to end, so almost like a play when we were shooting it, that helped enormously. I was very, very grateful to him for that because it sort of added a dimension of reality, that when on a film set you're struggling to manufacture. 

So you were able to find that level of reality because you shot the film in sequence almost like a stage play, is that correct?

D’Arcy: I mean certain sequences yes, but you have to be obviously on your game with eight page scenes. I mean it's been a long time since I've done any theater and it's a lot to remember for a very little brain like mine. Jeremy was great and what was interesting about the way that he chose to shoot it was that it felt like the camera was often not really in our faces. It was sort of some distance away, so it did just feel like the four of us having a conversation. I think he did it really cleverly and I look forward to seeing what he does next. 

Finally, I want to ask you about your work on the upcoming film Hitchcock. What was it like working with Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins while he was portraying the iconic role of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock?

D’Arcy: Well Anthony Hopkins is without any question one of the greatest film actors ever. So to be on a film set with him, to be shooting scenes with him, it was a total honor. Here's the thing, and he shares it with a lot of other successful actors, he's just incredibly gracious, classy, easy to get along with and very friendly. Obviously he is on top of his game in terms of performance and all the rest of it. There's so much to learn from him and he was incredibly kind to me and generous. I really enjoyed working with him. He was terrific. 

In Hitchcock you play Anthony Perkins during the making of Psycho, an actor that everyone knows, in one of the most famous movies of all time. What kind of research did you have to do in order to prepare and successfully portray that role?

D’Arcy: Well, don't confuse Anthony Perkins with Norman Bates. Everybody knows Norman Bates, but I don't know many people who do know Anthony Perkins in truth. You know Psycho was without any question his most successful film experience. I watched a lot of films that he made around that time and there's a very good biography written on him. Interview wise, that was a little harder. I watched certain bits of Psycho a lot to try and get the intonation that he had in his voice, which is very peculiar, and quite unique. He also has this sort of gangly quality, physically speaking that was interesting to try and explore as well.        

In Their Skin is currently playing in theaters.

To read our exclusive interview with Selma Blair about In Their Skin, Anger Management: Season Two and Hellboy III, please click here.

Hitchcock opens in theaters on November 23rd.

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