I recently got the chance to talk to Don McCorkindale about his role in ‘Call Of The Hunter’. Here, Don talks about how he got involved in the project and which three people he would invite to dinner…
Hey Don. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘Call Of The Hunter‘.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The “Hunter” in the title is based on the myth of Herne The Hunter, a gamekeeper in the Windsor Forest. Saving the King’s life (Richard II) from a rogue stag he sustained mortal wounds but was saved from death by a mysterious stranger. The King then promoted Herne to Head Keep to the envy of his colleagues. They plotted together and brought about Herne’s death. Fast forward to the 1960s and brother and sister staying at a country estate entertain their cousin, from Liverpool, by showing him the house and the surrounding woods. During their games amongst the trees the cousin disappears and is never seen again. Fast forward to the noughties and, the brother is persuaded to make a documentary about his sister’s murder. She’d been beheaded and her head stuck on the house’s weather vane. The film crew are then picked off one-by-one, we assume by the ghost of Herne, who only wants his hunting horn returned!
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Ralph, brother to the murderee and I was also on set as a technical adviser.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I’ve known the director/producer, Anthony Straeger, for over 20 years and have worked with him on various films and corporate projects. He told me years ago that he wanted to make a feature with me before he reached 50. And he did.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I’d say the difference lays in the approach to the script. In true Shakespearean style, “frighten the pants off ‘em, then make ‘em laugh”, not SO different but unique in the truth of the style and acting.
The film stars Sarah Paul, Michael Instone, Katrin Riedel-Kelly and Angelique Fernandez – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
It’s a well-known fact among actors that every pasture is new. Because whenever you start a new job, very rarely do you know the other people involved. Not like a nine to fiver, seeing the same faces year in year out. So you have to bond pretty quickly if the project is to be successful. Two things can happen. Either you end up falling in love with everybody….or the other! “Hunter” had one of the best crew and cast I’ve ever worked with. Because of the time and financial constraints we all pitched in helping with set-ups, catering, go-fering, lighting…you name it; we mingled sweat, tears and lack of sleep ALL together.
Let’s talk a bit about you Don. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
My family history is not one of theatre but of the “ring”. My father ‘Big Don’ was a South African champion heavyweight boxer and my step-father, Freddie Mills, was a world champion cruiser-weight boxer during 1948-1950. Freddie was also a wonderful after-dinner speaker, pantomime star (long before Frank Bruno bless him), and presented the first ‘Keep Fit’ program on British television. Add to that a wonderful singing voice and no wonder I was star struck! My inspiration? One evening, at age nine, I was watching the news on T.V. Up came a clip of the Italia Conti Stage School. I was rapt, entranced. Seeing the kids learning to act, to sing and to dance, all-in-all having a whale of a time. I raced in the kitchen nearly knocking a cup of tea out of Freddie’s hand screaming, “That’s what I want to do, that’s what I want to be”! “Be what”? came the mystified question. “An actor!”
You’ve got a career spanning 50 years – what advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Develop a thick skin. For every one job you get you face ten, even more at times, rejections. If possible learn your craft at a good drama school. They’ll teach you the techniques, technicalities and, most importantly, the etiquette of working on stage. Lessons learned that can be imported to TV and film. Lastly, always remember, you never stop learning. From stars, from your peers AND from younger actors. Don’t get cocky.
Who have been your favourite actors to work with so far, and why?
Jeremy Brett: warm, generous and giving. Learnt a lot. James Mason: his humility, above all, considering his position in the firmament. Donald Sinden: quirky, funny, amiable and always ready for a laugh. Someone I’d have given my right arm to work with, Ingrid Bergman…say no more!
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would they be and why?
Er, Ingrid Bergman, Charlie Chaplin and Cate Blanchett. I fell in love with Ingid after seeing ‘Casablanca’ (14 times!). She had such a wonderful vulnerability and truth to her acting and I would have enjoyed hearing HER account of the Rossellini affair. Chaplin is one of my all time favourites who brought a new style of film acting to the screen. His underplaying makes sure that you don’t look at anyone else. I would have enjoyed having a political discussion with him to find out where his true sympathies lay. Cate is another sterling example of how it should be done. Again the truth behind everything she does lends something magical to everything she appears in. My question to her would be “Cate, why in God’s name don’t you marry me!”
What the most interesting piece of news you’ve heard in the last month or so?
That the Conservatives are struggling a bit in the cesspool they’ve created. And my pension’s going up in April.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
Well 2011’s nearly finished. As for 2012, don’t know yet. I’m just going to have to sit by the phone!
Thanks for the interview!