iain de caestecker: scotland's new star actor
With Lost River released on video today we catch up with its star to talk Ryan Gosling, fighting the critics, and self expression.
Like all young actors, Iain De Caestecker has a list of industry superstars he'd like to work with. Unlike the rest of them, he's already ticked most of his idols off. Trainspotting legend Irvine Welsh? Check. Leading Scottish director Jon S. Baird? Check. Renowned Scottish actor James McAvoy? Check. In fact Iain killed all three of these birds with one stone, while working on the brilliantly gritty film Filth. And now, he's even been able to tick off everyone's favourite heartthrob, the one and only Ryan Gosling.
Starring as Bones, a skinny young kid who wants nothing other than to protect his family from the threat of mysterious men, Iain took the lead in Ryan's directorial debut, the magical neo-noir fantasy: Lost River. Panned critically at Cannes for being "too self-indulgent", (even though Ryan never actually appears in the movie, nor does it reference his life in any meaningful way) it's a film that hasn't been without its fare share of controversy, not that Iain cares, though, about the opinion of few disgruntled critics. He remains proud of being a part of it, and wouldn't have it any other way. Introducing Scotland's fastest rising star: Iain De Caestecker.
Lost River is a pretty big film to cut your teeth on. How did you get involved with it?
I read the script and then sent out a tape to Ryan. I met him in LA and that was it. It was all a bit of a blur, really.
Did the fact that Ryan Gosling is huge movie star as well as your director change the dynamic of the film?
I thought it would have, but it didn't really. I've seen a lot of his movies; I'm a fan of his. But he fit into the role of director really easily. There wasn't really a moment when I thought about him as not being a director. Well, there were a few moments, but only few and far between.
You worked with a particularly small crew and on a really low budget, how did this level of intimacy differ from all the other stuff you've done?
For what I do, it doesn't really change anything. I'll work as hard as I can in terms of preparation, I'll learn my lines and then work as hard as I can on the day to do it. What's in front of the camera doesn't change. I prefer a low budget film, there's an atmosphere and sensibility, which you miss when there's too much money.
What research did you have to do for your character?
I went out to Detroit for about three or four weeks before we started filming and I just discovered the city and met people and just sort of figured out stuff that way. I worked quite closely with Ryan, and he gave me some ideas. It was quite an organic process. There was some stuff I researched that I didn't end up using but it stayed in the back of my head. Detroit is a very inspiring place so I just went with the flow.
How would you describe your character?He's a guy who is at a crossroads, like a lot of people; he's at a stage where he's entering into adulthood. He's working out what it means to be a man. He wants to provide for his family, but he also wants to travel the world and be free like young people his age do. He's quite a soulful person, I think, but he's never had the opportunity to pick up an instrument or write something down.
I thought the tension between him wanting to protect his family from dominant male figures such as Ben Mendelsohn's character, really interesting.
He's grown up with a matriarchal figure in his life. I think it's what gives him a sensibility, as a male.
How much scope was there in terms of developing your character as opposed to having Ryan saying, "ok do this, do that?"
There were no real boundaries, to be honest. I normally stuck to what Ryan wanted to do as usually it was the best, but he very much wanted people to bring their own thing to the table, he would give anything a go. He pushed for everyone to have a say. It was a real privilege, you don't normally get that.
How comfortable were you initially about putting forward your ideas?
I don't know. If I think an idea is strong enough I will speak up. Ryan makes you feel very comfortable, and like it's a very open and safe place to suggest things, so I didn't feel any pressure or get any anxiety about it.
What is about acting that you enjoy? Is it a means of escapism? Or is it a way of experiencing things you never thought you could?
It changes a lot, I think for me the main thing now is just being a part of something you can be proud of and that you feel is important, whether it makes a stance on cinema or whether it tackles an important subject. I've always loved cinema and movies; it's a world that I've always wanted to be a part of. The older I get, though; it's more about being a part of something. I think I would be lying if said I didn't want everyone who saw it to be inspired by it, but it's nice to be able to look back on something and be proud of it.
Does that need to be proud affect what roles you choose or are you still at a stage where you'll take anything?
Haha. I think you have to be able to be in a position to give yourself the license to be a bit more choosey.
You've been acting for quite a while, how do you think you've evolved?
I don't think I really knew what I was doing when I started. You couldn't really call that acting. When I went to college that's when I started to figure out what I actually wanted to do and what acting meant to be. I still feel like I'm starting from scratch every time I do it. Which is one of the great things about it.
What's been your proudest moment so far?
Definitely this film. I don't think I could have been prouder to be a part of Ryan's directorial debut.
It got totally panned at Cannes, do you think that was always going to be inevitable? I mean it's such an easy thing to say, "Stick to acting, Ryan," and say what a vanity project the whole thing is…
Obviously you want everyone to like it, but that's not always the case. At least there's no one in the middle saying it was just ok. I've personally had good feedback, and I know Ryan is really proud of it. Some critics didn't like it, but that's just their opinion. Others have a different opinion. It hasn't given me any insecurities or changed my mind about the film. It's original and really pushed the boat out, how can that not be celebrated?