The actor discusses his directorial debut, featuring Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman, after having won the Sundance World Cinema Award for Directing
Tyrannosaur – the directorial debut by acclaimed actor Paddy Considine – is a deeply cathartic and ultimately moving experience, if not a wholly enjoyable one. It follows the story of Joseph (Peter Mullan), a desolate man brimming with fury and resentment for almost everyone and everything, and his encounter with Hannah (Peep Show’s Olivia Colman), a Christian charity shop worker whose perfect life is entirely meretricious, darkly underscored by her foul and abusive husband, played by Eddie Marsan.
Against the odds the two begin to forge a relationship, rife with hesitation and drama, which is surprisingly redemptive in the face of deep unhappiness and devastation. The exceptional and unsettlingly convincing performances from the three protagonists, combined with Considine’s accomplished writing and direction (he won the Sundance World Cinema Award for Directing for the film), makes for extremely powerful viewing. Here we talk to Considine about the motives behind Tyrannosaur and his strategy as a director...
Dazed Digital: What inspired you to make the film and tell this particular story?
Paddy Considine: As a piece it was just something that was brewing for some years and had to come out at some point, I suppose, because I’d wanted to direct films for a long time. I think Tyrannosaur was me really just trying to make sense of growing up, of my place in the world, of my relationships and the people around me. The world that I grew up around really, which obviously didn’t have the severity of Tyrannosaur because it’s all just interpretation, but yeah I think that it was my time to get my voice out there into the cinema.
DD: There’s a great deal of tension between characters sustained throughout the film, did you find it necessary to try to maintain any sense of that off-set?
Paddy Considine: I can understand why you think that this might have been a really intense experience but there wasn’t any tension. You can’t make a film like Tyrannosaur with scenes like that unless everybody’s on board and switched on. No ego, you know: cut and have a cuddle! Everybody got on great and that’s what happens when you work with great actors – you don’t need any of the business that goes on in between. Some actors work from a place of being incredibly relaxed. Peter works like that and he can just flip the switch and be in there. All great actors do that.
DD: You’re directing skills have already won you high appraisal and Olivia Colman says she never wants to work with anyone else again. What was your strategy as a director?
Paddy Considine: (Laughs) I sort of understand what she means and I’m not bringing myself into this but I know the directors who have got the best out of me because they’re the ones that create the environments. They make it a playground –films become like little worlds as you’re making them, that exist on their own and nothing else seems to be going on outside of them. And the best people make you secure in that world, they create the right kind of playground. Also the best directors get in your head and motivate you. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Shane Meadows and Jim Sheridan and Pavel Pavlovsky who are great at that; those people seem to bring out the best in you. Then it’s a collaboration.
DD: That must be the best thing about having been under direction so many times before taking on directing yourself…
Paddy Considine: Definitely – you know what doesn’t work. And you get people in that zone. Someone once described actors as “emotional athletes” and I thought that was beautiful actually – that’s what they are. And I’m privileged to get them on the stool at the end of the round and sit them down mid-fight and talk about what we’re going to do for the next round.
Tyrannosaur is out today