I recently got the opportunity to talk to Stephen Lord about his leading role in indie thriller ‘Desperate Measures’. Here, Stephen talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and about his upcoming role in new film, ‘Default’….
Hey Stephen. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Desperate Measures’ is in selected cinemas in the UK right now. What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
My character Ross Hadley has been kidnapped and is being held on a remote farmhouse against his will. A drink and drug addict, his two captors put him through a brutal regime to get him clean. But when he gets clean, Ross finds out the real reasons behind his incarceration.
How did you become involved in the project in the first place?
The talented writer and producer Chris Green who is also from Salford had me in mind for the film and thankfully made it happen.
I’ve seen the trailer, it’s very punchy, so to speak…how would you say this film is different to other indie thrillers released this year?
It’s a brutal tale and emotional rollercoaster and I can’t think of another film like it or one that’s coming out soon.
The film stars yourself as the main lead, Ricci Harnett and Maxton G. Beesley – what was it like working with the cast and crew on what could be considered a violent movie?
It was a challenging job to do as it was made on such a low-budget and it felt very real and violent. Thankfully we all got on so well so I had plenty of laughs whilst making the film. The writer, Chris Green, can be a very funny fella and cracked me up many times and Max was always a joy to be around with his impressions and stories. The crew was young and hardworking.
The film bases itself on your character going through a brutal regime – did you have much preparation for those scenes? Did at any point you think – “God, what am I doing here?”
I feel you have to be prepared to take on the work and I had plenty of knowledge around addiction, which helped immensely for this project. I dropped some weight for the role, as I know my character Ross had been neglecting himself for some time. I spoke a lot to Chris Green and director Steve Looker and off we went shooting mostly chronologically which is always a huge luxury. A few times the feeling of “What am I doing here” did cross my mind over the course of the shoot. The first day I hiked up a seriously steep hill to the filming location – in the pissing rain. It was an old disused farmhouse with no running water, no toilet and no heat. Then over the next 12 hours we were filming I was being kicked, punched and hosed down with cold water. It was pretty intense and I needed a lot of energy. I think we got warm soup and a bread roll for lunch, which didn’t go down well with cast and crew. Thankfully it got better. Walking back down the hill at the end of the day I did think to myself this wasn’t going to be the easiest of gigs. It was all very much worthwhile though looking back.
Let’s talk a bit about you Stephen. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I am blessed that I found something that I wanted to do and thankfully I have been able to earn a living and play a variety of roles. I went to Salford University and did lots of profit share theatre and also worked in a Jacobean banquet when I was 18 in order to get my equity card and gain experience. My first film was ‘Shooting Stars’ for Channel 4, which I got whilst I was in college. I got an agent from doing theatre and started booking film and TV work.
You’ve had a number of roles in various UK TV shows – in particular ’Eastenders’ from 2007/08, where you played Jase. Three years on, are you still recognised in the street for it? What was it like working on such a key British institution for 93 episodes? Do you still watch the show?
I’ve always mixed up my roles so thankfully I haven’t been typecast to date. “Eastenders” had a lovely atmosphere. I liked the idea that I went out on a strong exit just as the audience was really getting to know my character Jase. Having a beard in the show and then shaving it off really helped me not being recognised on the street. I don’t watch much television and as you know I have been away a lot so I have no idea what’s going on in Albert Square. I’m sure it’s all good and from what I hear I know they have a new head of the show, Brian Kirkwood – who is also very good at his job.
Who has been your favorite actor / director to work with so far and why?
I’d have to say Ken Loach – as he is such a lovely man and great filmmaker. He had the biggest influence on me when I worked with him briefly on “Raining Stones” when I was 18.
What does a Stephen Lord day usually consist of?
Mostly running around after my baby daughter Kila, juggling phone calls and reading scripts or learning lines.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
It’s been hard not to follow the Casey Anthony story in America, which has almost become a public witch-hunt and an ultimate reality show taken to the extreme. What’s also really shocking is again somebody has actually got away with murder…?
What’s coming up for you in 2011? I hear you’ve just finished a project called ‘Default’?
I’m excited about “Default” as I think it has the potential to get out there to a big audience. It was great working with the other actors and Columbian director Simon Brand whist shooting in LA. The story is based on a real life news story – basically, a group of CNN journalists are kidnapped by Somalia pirates. I play Kane who is one of the five journalists. Some good folk are behind the project so I am looking forward to seeing if the film is embraced.
Thanks for the interview!