I recently got the chance to talk to Richard Dillane about his role in ‘The Dinosaur Project’. Here, Richard talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Richard. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘The Dinosaur Project’.
Pleasure. Just back from a family break in Italy. Glad to be back at the keyboard.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
An expedition to establish whether a Nessie-type mythical creature in the rivers of darkest Africa really exists discovers more than it bargained for, and there’s a father-son plotline for good measure. Dad’s the chief explorer with the action hat and his son is a techie geek who’s decided he’s had enough of estrangement and stows aboard the expedition.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
My guy is the expedition leader, all grizzled and terse and not very good at teenagers but comes good in the course of the adventure.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
In the normal way. Met the director and read for the part. Sid was trying out various actor-combinations for the main parts so I read with a few sons and I suppose Matt read with a few dads. I was obviously the worst so they gave me the part.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I’m not sure it is. Dinosaur movies are as old as the hills and father-son plots go back to the Greeks, but ‘found-footage’ is a recent genre and no-one before had made a found-footage dino movie, so its distinction is in the combination – added to the HD quality and top shelf CGI by Jellyfish.
The film stars Natasha Loring, Matt Kane, Peter Brooke, your good self and Stephen Jennings – with Sid Bennett onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
A great pleasure. For a start we got to romp around the extremities of South Africa pretending to be intrepid and leaving the responsibilities of parenting to a long-suffering spouse for weeks on end. I think the cast were a good gang, a mixture of Brit, Brit-based US, US-born Brit and three South Africans. Plenty to talk about. The crew had a good vibe too and Sid and Tom (DOP) had obviously worked together before. The found footage thing dictated how the thing was shot but it meant long takes of whole scenes which is satisfying, and never having to concern ourselves with where the camera was. Anecdotes; well one of the most beautiful sights of my life was on this production. We had just finished a night shoot upriver and were speedboating back to base in total darkness with no light pollution at all and an utterly clear sky, and I looked up and between the high sides of the River Gorge I saw the Total Lunar Eclipse, the Moon absolutely blood-red.
Let’s talk a bit about you Richard. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Getting into film has been pretty recent for me but it was the natural ambition having trod the boards and been on telly. I think it’s fair to say it’s the sharp end of the acting business and I naturally want to be there.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
From memory, all advice is useless. That’s a quote from someone talking about how to cope with love, which is a decent enough analogy.
You’ve been in a number of well-known films and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
Too many to repeat – you gave me a word limit. I loved working with Emily Watson on ‘Oranges And Sunshine’ – in fact that has been the highlight so far. I was a little starstruck with Kevin Kline on ‘Delovely’. There’s a heartbreaking moment at the end of ‘Withnail And I’ when the frustrated actor played by Richard E Grant – (who incidentally I saw getting out of a taxi on Oxford Street the other day) recites a Hamlet soliloquy in recognition of his career’s failure since he never got to play The Dane. Happily, I’ve played him – on a small stage in Perth, Western Australia but in a decent paid production (hat off to director Ray Omodei) so at least I’m not Withnail. That’s a comfort.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
Oh a blurry mix of my stuff, my wife’s and the kids’. They like The Beatles. I mostly listen to Melvyn Bragg podcasts going to sleep. You can learn a lot.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
No actors. Maybe Shakespeare because you’d want to ask if he really wrote it, wouldn’t you? But maybe he wouldn’t be interesting in person. I dunno, next question.
On your off-days, how do you like to kick back and relax?
Off days? I have three children.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I did an Ibsen play in London starring Joely Richardson followed by a shoot-‘em-up Western filmed in Romania with Mickey Rourke and then some telly and radio. Right now some more bread-and-butter telly. I did my character’s corpse scene before my holiday and now – tanned – I’ve got to go back and play his alive scenes.
Thanks for the interview!