I recently got the chance to talk to Wil Johnson about his role in ‘In A Better World’. Here, Wil talks about how this film differs from other thrillers and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Wil. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘In A Better World’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The general plotline revolves around two very different families who in their own way deal with grief, loss, acceptance, and change by making a stand and confronting their own demons. It’s a very well observed study of the human condition.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Dr. Najeeb – who works with the lead character Anton played by Mikael Persbrandt in a refugee hospital in east Africa. Najeeb is calm, methodical, caring and very compassionate.
How did you get involved in the movie in the first place?
My agent emailed me about the audition but I was in America at the time. So the producers of the film went onto my website, saw my showreel, and cast me on the strength of what they saw.
How would you say this film is different from other thrillers?
The film differs in that it doesn’t rely on set pieces to shock and provoke the audience but through the main characters journeys, we as an audience are allowed to peer into a world of intrigue where we really don’t know how a situation is going to play out or what the end result will be. There’s always a sense of foreboding and dread and that set against an ordinary back drop keeps up the suspense.
The film stars Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm and Markus Rygaard – what was it like working with the cast and crew on the film?
I only worked with Mikael and he was amazing. A brilliant actor, very generous, giving and very funny. The crew was on point! Susanne Bier has to be one of the most self-assured directors I’ve worked with. Susanne knows what she wants, is very precise and detailed. She’s also very nice and charming – a delight to work with.
Let’s talk a bit about you Wil. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
Fluke! Acting found me. I hated Drama at school and never chose it as an option. When someone dropped out of the school annual play, I was asked if I wanted to do the role (Lord knows why?????). I said yes and the rest is history as they say.
What advice would you give to people wanting to get into the industry?
The advice I give is very simple – “Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.”
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would they be and why?
Malcolm X, Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. Why??…To find out what kept them going, what drove them on in the face of such adversities.
What’s the most interesting / funny news story you’ve heard in the last month or so?
Oh dear, I have to think about that one. Hmmmmm – the arrival of the new bigger better bolder badder ‘Big Brother’! WOW! Just what we need. More education! I feel enlightened already! NOT!!!!!
We should point out that you’re a main character in ‘Waking The Dead’ – how does it feel to be part of such a well-known British TV show?
It feels very humble to be a part of something that has gone down in the annuals of British TV history as a standout landmark drama. Unfortunately the show is now no more. We filmed nine series and decided to end it this year.
What else is coming up for you in 2011?
Currently I’m doing a stint on ‘Holby City’ playing a Doctor. I then go back to ‘treading the boards’. I’m doing a play, a two hander called ‘The Swallowing Dark’ at the Liverpool Playhouse and Theatre 503. I play a Zimbabwean refugee who stay in England is under question. Then I’m going back to movies playing a gangster in a thriller called ‘’Life Outside’.
Thanks for the interview!