I recently got the chance to talk to Tim J. Henley about his role in ‘The Harsh Light Of Day’. Here, Tim talks about how he got involved in the project and what made him want to get into acting in the first place…
Hey Tim. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘The Harsh Light Of Day’.
My pleasure Matt…thanks for having me in.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Well, it’s basically a genre-splice horror/revenge flick. Supernatural/occult author Daniel Shergold – (played by the amazing Dan Richardson) has just celebrated an evening at a book launch for his new tome. Him and his wife are cuddled up in bed happy with their lot….during the dead of night a gang of thugs break in and brutally attack the couple, and leave them both for dead. Daniel survives, but is crippled by the attack, and the next part of the film covers Daniels spiral into despair after losing his wife to these murdering yobs. It transpires that the attack was driven by the gang being employed by a sleazy pimp/drug runner type, Roy, who pays the gang to make snuff movies, which he then sells onto his clients.
Daniel becomes exasperated by the lack of action by the police, and when the chance to find the thugs responsible and make them pay for their deeds is offered to him on a plate, he jumps at the chance…the trouble is, there is a price for this revenge. The offer is made by a dark stranger called Infunari, (played by the fabulous Giles Alderson) and the price is complete surrender to Infunari and his cult/lifestyle…which I won’t say too much about, but this is where the horror side of the splice kicks in.
The rest of the film concentrates on Daniel’s journey to join Infunari, and his ‘way’ and then onto the task of finding the gang, and exacting the revenge Daniel hungers for so much. The basic question of the film is – ‘How far would you go to get revenge’?
A brilliantly accurate critique we received from a reviewer when the film premiered in the USA was ‘Straw Dogs With Fangs’, this would actually make a pretty good tag line for the film !
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play the sleazy pimp/drug runner Roy, he’s known locally as ‘The King’ (of porn)…he has a large business empire of illegal gambling dens, brothels, porn shops etc, and this ‘new’ venture he’s embarking on is grooming young, money grabbing thugs to film brutal beatings to make snuff movies he can sell onto his clients. (Nice character eh? Me typecast?)
Roy, though is not all he seems, he is basically a big-mouthed coward, who hides behind his goons, and makes dirty money to keep himself rolling in luxury, but his true colours show when the going gets tough, and he’s just as likely to break down and cry as he is to stand and fight…you know the type…all mouth, and nothing to back it up. I really liked the role, would have loved to take it further to be honest, and build a really seedy back story, but there’s not enough time in the film really, as it’s all about Daniel and Infunari and their story….so the film has to take time to build their plotlines. Maybe there’ll be a sequel or prequel? The character of Infunari certainly deserves one !
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I was offered a chance to audition by Oli S. Milburn – (the director) and Emma Biggins – (the producer) when they were given my name by two other directors I’d worked for when they were asking around for somebody who would suit the role…..so I was just lucky enough to get the call out of the blue….that’s one of the things I like about this industry…you never know when a job you did two or three years before may have it’s effect further down the line for another role.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Well, without giving too much away about the plotline….this kicks against the general movies of this type in that it is very ‘real’. It’s grounded in a very gritty and honest world, that we all know, even though the film travels along a supernatural route. It stays very believable because of this.
Also, bearing in mind that this film was made on a very low-budget, the quality of the end result speaks volumes for the skills of the crew, especially the director and DOP. Besides, how many other films can you name with the snuff movie subject matter??
The film also stars Dan Richardson, Giles Alderson, Sophie Linfield, Niki Felstead, Paul Jaques and Wesley McCarthy – with Oliver S. Milburn onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
What can I say…the crew was lovely, they all really worked their butts off to make this work, and they all knew their respective jobs and did them perfectly, so the quality of what they brought really shines through in the finished product, as for the cast….they are ALL amazingly good actors…seriously, that was one of the best things for me about this film….forget the fact this was my first full feature role, and the fact it’ll be on limited cinema release across the UK, and the fact it will be available on Amazon etc on DVD & Blu-Ray at the end of the year – (available now on pre-order in fact) ….working with the very talented cast was an absolute dream…..it became a bit of an ensemble thing really, we made such good friends on set, because the subject matter was very deep, and we had to tap into some pretty dark places to get into character etc, so we had to really trust each other on set, and that makes you very open to each other….so I made some very firm friends on set, and am happy to say we will stay friends for ever, and I dearly hope to work with many of them again….in fact some of us have already !
Good anecdotes….loads…but one of my favourites is; when we were breaking for lunch one time, we went for a big pizza meal altogether, and me and my ‘gang’ were waiting outside the pizzeria waiting for the others to arrive, and a van pulled up with an Irish guy driving…he wound the window down, and said in a really strong Northern Irish brogue – ‘You boys lookin’ for work?’. He thought we were a real gang of chavy thugs that he could employ for the day ! Of course, the funniest thing about this was all of us putting on our best Noel Coward/RP voices and saying…’No thank you…we are actors still in character don’t you know!’. What a bunch of idiots we must have sounded….hilarious…
Let’s talk a bit about you Tim. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Well, when I was at school, I loved acting, but back then I never really gave much thought to making a career of it sadly, as then it would have been like saying ‘I want to be an astronaut’. Careers officers wanted you to be a plumber or work in an office..that was it…it was Hollywood actors or nothing in those days, but nowadays, the whole openness of the media world with the web and affordable filmmaking kit and software etc has changed this, the whole urban filmmaking thing has happened, and now there are a lot more avenues into the industry…without being absolutely necessary to go to drama school or similar – (although, drama school graduates do still have the upper hand over us untrained actors…there is still a bit of a ‘if you haven’t been trained, you’re no good’ attitude about, but happily that is slowly eroding, there are a lot of brilliant untrained actors about now, and the best thing about them, is their natural believability because they haven’ been RADA’d to death!).
So my starting point was – I went on a one day course in Bristol about 5 years ago called ‘So You Think You Can Act’…I signed up thinking, well let’s see if I actually can act, like I think I can…and on the day you had to do a monologue to the class, then it would be critiqued and re-directed by the casting director who was running the course – (Jesse Malone). I didn’t even know what a monologue was…had to look it up on the internet…but I learnt one…and did it to the class, and it was really well received, and Jesse couldn’t believe I’d not had any training..that said volumes to me…I took that initial encouragement, and built on it bit by bit over the years…so I’ve chipped away at it all on my own …with no actual proper tuition or help….that said, Jesse did mentor me for a year or so, and gave me some valuable tips…so I owe her a great deal for having faith in me, and nurturing my talent.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
I’ll say what Jesse Malone said to me….”Love acting, don’t love the idea of acting”…..simple really, but very true…we all love the idea of being an actor, but then reality bites…it’s hard work, it’s tough on the head and heart, and emotionally you have to be VERY strong, and believe in yourself, and your talent completely….as there will be MANY, MANY times when you will be given cause for doubt…but if you are strong, and believe in yourself…you can do anything….I am testament to that!
Also, be prepared to be skint! Might sound glib, but it’s very true….it’s a long road to the point of being able to make ends meet, so be prepared for this…and finally, surround yourself with people who believe in you too…my partner Lizzie is my rock, and she is my support structure whilst I try to build my career…so without people like this it would be easy to let the negative people out there tear you down.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Derren Brown – adore this guy…seen his live show loads, and have also been ‘called up’ on stage a few times to be one of the ‘victims’ of his unique brand of entertainment. Met him once too. The guy is a genius, and also a really nice bloke.
- My dead stepdad John Selby….would love to see him again, and see how proud of me he would be if he saw how happy I am with my life right now, and how I’ve built my acting career…he died when I was a teenager so never knew my life really….he’s been gone a long time now…a LOT of water under a LOT of bridges since then…be nice for him to know all about my life. And now I’m grown up, I could ask him all about his life…and boy what a life he had, but I was too young to ask him all the burning questions I grew up with since he passed.
- Alex Lifeson – guitarist with Rush. Love that band, love that guys work, love that guys sense of humour…he would DEFFO be on any guest list for any bash I had, if it were only possible.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Greece – two places in particular, mainland Greece, a place called Parga, and an island called Lefkas, both on the Ionian sea…both amazing in their individual ways, and so far, not spoilt by too much commercialism…would live there in a shot if I could…beautiful. Made some good friends there too over the years.
What is your favourite word?
Spread – it’s my nickname….all my close friends call me it rather than Tim….it’s my favourite word, because not many people know the real reason it’s my nickname….which makes me smile…and don’t ask !!
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’m currently filming a four-part sci-fi internet drama called ‘Mindtwist’, and then I have a couple of other roles coming out in other feature films – ‘Heavy Duty’ – (starring Giles Alderson of Harsh Light fame!) and ‘D. One’ – (starring Paul Jacques – of Harsh Light fame!) as well as a few other projects bubbling under/due for release…not least of which is a full on western called ‘Dark Country’…I play the lead bad guy Armistead in that…and it was one of the most amazing times on set ever….we were dressed as cowboys and firing six shooters like bullets were going out of fashion !! What’s not to like?
Just auditioned for another TV drama role, so fingers crossed for that….be nice to get another BBC role or two again this year ….good for exposure.
Thanks for the interview!