I recently got the chance to talk to Helen Holman about her leading role in ‘Jacob’s Hammer’. Here, Helen talks about how she got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Helen. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Jacob‘s Hammer’.
Hi Matt. No problem, it’s great to talk to you!
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Well, ‘Jacob’s Hammer’ is about Sadie (my character) and her young son, Jacob. The film follows her and the ‘trouble’ she has with Jacob and, of course, the ensuing chaos! It is a horror, so naturally there are some exciting and gory scenes – (all tremendous fun to film!), but there’s a great originality to it as well – it’s not just a generic slasher flick. It’s a bit difficult to describe the story without giving too much away, so I don’t really want to say an awful lot about the plot – you’ll have to watch it to find out what happens! Needless to say, there are some surprising moments in it!
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
Ha ha! I love Sadie. She’s a great character, and it was a huge pleasure to play her! She struggles through so much regarding Jacob, bless her! I would say that she is a passionate person – she loves Jacob more than anything, and yet she knows there’s something ‘not quite right’ about him and is determined to protect both him and the other people in her life. She really does have to put up with a lot – and not just from Jacob; her family is an almost constant source of irritation, and disappointment actually. Sadie is an artist, and one could probably say that she has an artistic temperament, but she definitely has a vulnerable side too – I think she is a likeable character, and there are many aspects of her that the audience can relate to fairly easily. Basically, she is a loving character who has occasional trouble with her family…. 😉
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
It actually has a lot to do with my lovely co-star, the talented George McCluskey. I met him a few years ago when we were working on a production together, and we stayed in touch with the occasional call or email. Then he contacted me regarding a script he had read, which had been written by a very talented writer and director he had also worked with previously. George said that as he read the script, he immediately pictured me in it and wanted to put me in contact with the creator – and that is how I met the wonderful Angie Bojtler. After auditioning, I was offered the role and the rest, as they say, is history.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I think there definitely is something unique, and really quite special about the film. I think that it breaks the conventions of the horror – as I said before there are some great moments of gore, but there are also some very tense and psychological scenes. It’s almost like a mixture of genres, working in harmony to create something different, but ultimately, it’s a horror – and will satisfy the true horror fans out there – but hopefully it’ll also satisfy those who might be looking for something more than a horror.
The film stars your good self, Luis James Farouk, Diane Rimmer, George McCluskey, Thomas Sean Hughes, Christain Lopez, Adi Alfa, Chelsea-Louise Taylor and Emma Montgomery – with Angie Bojtler onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
What can I say? The cast and crew were brilliant, and so much fun to work with on the whole production. George, as I said, I’ve known for a few years, so it was lovely to work with him again – it’s always a pleasure to hear about his very prolific career, and he more often than not has entertaining stories about productions he’s worked on. George is the one who keeps a smile on his face (between scenes!), and everyone’s spirits up – he’s so good at making me feel confident with my performance. Luis, who plays Jacob, was a little star – and enjoyed bringing his character to life – I played a game with him to see how scary he could be on camera, and he loved to make as many people jump as possible! Tom, a former ‘Hollyoaks’ star, was great fun to work with, and we had many laughs in between (and sometimes during!) takes. He’s a perfectionist when it comes to his performance, and we had some amazing scenes – I think we worked well together, and I’d love to work with him again actually. The beautiful Adi, I think, has the loudest scream I’ve ever heard! I’ve never met anyone who looks quite so immaculate at the beginning of a shooting day even before hair and makeup!!! She was a delight to work with though, and we managed to find time for a nice girly gossip every so often. My goodness, I could go on for ages about the merits of the cast and crew – I’ll have to shorten my praises! (but they’ll be no less glowing!). Diane, Chelsea, Emma and Christian were all great. Diane plays my on-screen mother, so we had to work closely together on many scenes – I even had to have a bath with her sitting on the edge! Again, lots of fun to work with her. Talking of baths, I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in baths and showers, not to mention a swimming pool! To prevent misting of lenses etc, the water had to be cold, and I had to be naked (not in the pool) – not enjoyable scenes to film! Chelsea is one of a kind really, and we did enjoy working together. For one scene Sadie had to slap her sister, Paige (Chelsea’s character) – a very slight mix up with the timing meant I really slapped her, and hard too! Poor Chelsea, she took it in her stride and would have carried on with the scene if I hadn’t gasped in horror at what I’d done! She was ready for take two straight away though! I can’t get this far talking about my co-stars without mentioning the amazing work carried out by the crew – in particular DOP Matt Routledge, who is so talented (we considered opening a ‘Matt Appreciation Society’ – he’ll hate that I’ve said that! Ha ha!) and very much a calming influence over the more ‘excitable’ people on set (myself included!). Vicky Lee, assistant producer, worked tirelessly throughout the production, and is basically just amazing! And on to the wonderful Bojtler…Angie is such a talented and original writer, and a tour de force when it comes to directing. She knows how to get the performance she wants from me, but also lets me work in my own way – basically she can manipulate me! Ha ha! No, seriously, it’s a great experience being directed by her. Angie makes her actors feels comfortable and confident, and not only is she a fantastic writer and director, but she’s also a very good friend.
Lastly, I have to mention a particular scene we filmed in an art studio. Sadie was modelling clay for some of her artwork, and between takes I found myself playing about with the stuff. I made a tiny little duck, who was placed reverently (by me!) in the background of the set, and he can been seen in all his glory as the camera pans around. Marvellous!
Let’s talk a bit about you Helen. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Gosh, I’m not sure what to say really. Acting and performing is something I’ve always been interested in, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I have two brothers, Hugh is also an actor, and Michael is a photographer, so we’re all fairly artistic – it must run in the family! From very early school plays and dramatic societies I caught the acting bug, and set about following my passion. I was working professionally before I went to university, where I studied both drama and archaeology, and went straight back to acting after I graduated! And that’s what I’ve done since!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Umm…be very sure it’s what you want to do, and there’s no alternative for you but to act. It must be an absolute passion in your life, but thick skin and a sense of humour will go far. Take your profession, and your work seriously – but not yourself.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
All sorts of things! I always have a selection of classical music, along with a healthy dose of jazz – at the moment it’s Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Stacey Kent and Bill Evans. I’ve recently discovered a great country artist – George Strait – I gather I’m quite late to him though – he’s huge on the country scene and has been for decades! I usually have a Frank Sinatra playlist, and Elton John makes an appearance along with Tom Jones and a bit of Johnny Cash. In case you think I’ve got a very old-fashioned list – don’t worry, I do keep a good selection of modern music, but this changes more frequently than the old classics!
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
There are a lot of people to choose from! Ok…ummm….Bette Davis, because I adore her films and would love to have known her. William Shakespeare – a little cliché I know, but it’s because like many in the acting profession, I’m a devoted fan of the Bard, and my professional career started on the stage with many a Shakespearian play! And one more…umm…let’s say Dolly Parton, because I think she’d be a fun and interesting addition to the dinner party! There are many more I’d like to invite though!
You’re stuck on a desert island, you’re only allowed three personal things with you – what would you choose and why?
Firstly I would have my gorgeous little dog, who I simply couldn’t live without! She’s a lurcher (Whippet/Bedlington) so if trained up properly, could help me hunt too – very useful! I would also take a duvet, because it’s bound to get cold at night, and I hate being cold. Who doesn’t love a duvet?! Would an e-reader loaded with thousands of books be allowed? I reckon that counts as one thing! Sorted! I’ll settle in nicely for a lovely stay on the island!
What’s coming up for you in 2012/2013?
Work-wise, I have a few projects lined up for this year, which should keep me busy for a while! One thing, to which I’m really looking forward, is being directed by Angie Bojtler again – I’ll be working on a new film of hers in which I’ll be playing a criminal psychology student. It won’t be shooting until at least the end of next year, but I believe I’ll also be joining forces with George McCluskey, with Matt Routledge and Vicky Lee also on the crew. Very exciting! Updates and news along with useless bits of info and general musings are posted on Twitter (@helen_holman) and Facebook (officialhelenholman).
Thanks for the interview!