Hello ladies and gentlemen, your pal Muldoon here with a quick interview with Shiloh Fernandez (EVIL DEAD). I don't typically seek out interviews/set visits, but when they magically fall in my lap and the film sounds like a fun project - I'm there. That's absolutely the case with Fouad Mikati's new film, RETURN TO SENDER. Aside from Shiloh, the film stars the beautiful Rosamund Pike (JACK REACHER), Nick Nolte (c'mon... you know him from everything), Camryn Manheim (THE PRACTICE), and Rumer Willis (THE HOUSE BUNNY). So when the opportunity to talk with Shiloh popped up, I grabbed it. Fernandez is absolutely an actor I keep tabs on, in the way that I think he's getting better and better roles and never seems to call it in, someone who isn't afraid to go all in on every single film. "So Muldoon, what the hell is this film about?"
When orderly, meticulous nurse MIRANDA WELLS is brutally raped by WILLIAM FINN, she's a trembling wreck of her former self. In order to cope with her continuing trauma, Miranda befriends William in prison, who tries his best to convince Miranda he's a reformed man -- a ruse to cover his unchanged true nature. After his release, William offers to help Miranda with some repair work around her house only to realize, too late, that his intended victim has a surprise in store...
The film's got a handful of festivals lined up for early 2014, but literally either just wrapped last week or will be wrapped this week. Here's hoping it's good, and with a cast like that, at least you know you're in for some quality. Bam! Now on to the interview:
Muldoon: Hey, Shiloh. How are you doing today, man?
Shiloh Fernandez: I’m doing pretty well, to be honest. We’ve got today and tomorrow, then we’re done with this picture. We’re wrapping it up.
Muldoon: Nice. I’ve heard quite a few good things about the film so far.
Shiloh Fernandez: Good. It’s been really great for me, just sort of expanding the characters I play. It’s just been a big year in general, so it’s nice to come here and do something different.
Muldoon: Yeah, it’s definitely been a big year for you. Especially coming off EVIL DEAD, you’re kind of all over the place. I first knew you from DEAD GIRL, so it’s exciting to see you taking on different roles, more than just those in twisted horror films.
Shiloh Fernandez: EVIL DEAD is cool, man. That’s it’s own entity that has nothing to do with me whatsoever, but I loved working with Fede [Alvarez] and Bruce. It was a cool experience very different. I don’t necessarily want to do too many films like that, it’s just so hard.
Muldoon: So in your own words, would you mind telling me what your new film, RETURN TO SENDER is about?
Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah, I’ll do my best. I’m not super great at discriptions, (Laughs) but I would say that it’s about a nurse who has a little bit of OCD. She wants everything to be perfect and always wants to be in control and she sort of has no love life. Her co-workers set her up on this blind date and she’s getting ready and she sees that this guy is early and she’s upset about that, but she opens the door and they sort of have… (Pauses) Am I allowed to tell you everything about the movie or do I have to keep it sort of non… I mean I’ll be giving everything away, wont I, if I tell you this?
Muldoon: (Laughs) It’s all good, man. Quite honestly I have the synopses, I was just curious to hear it from your perspective. It seems like you’re so much still in the thick of it, you could go into all sorts of details. So I assume you play that love interest, the guy, the giant question mark?
Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah, that’s true. It’s a very strange sort of love story, like it’s not necessarily a love interest as much as this guy that shows up basically… he commits a crime and gets sent to prison and the woman, for reasons beyond my character’s comprehension, she starts writing him letters. He doesn’t want to meet with her at first, but he agrees to meet with her and once she starts visiting prison, immediately they have this same report that they did the same time they met and they start liking each other and forming a relationship. Ultimately he’s going to be let out and he wants to know if it’s okay with her if they carry on this relationship.
Muldoon: Okay. I can see that. I see Nick Nolte has a part in the film. Do you have many scenes with him?
Shiloh Fernandez: He’s incredible. He’s one of my favorites. I’ve been kind of unlucky in that realm of things, like one of my first movies was with John Malkovich and I didn’t have any scenes with him. Gary Oldman was in RED RIDING HOOD and I didn’t really get much interaction with him and this was sort of the same thing. He plays her father and so we had a little bit of interaction, but really it was slight, but that dude’s gruff. I think he defines the word “gruff” and I think you get to a certain point as an actor some times where you just know what the fuck you are doing and he’s one of them. The dude is just incredible.
Muldoon: He’s definitely got it down. He’s been acting since before I was born. That sucks that you didn’t get too many scenes with him, but that’s kind of funny with your history of being in awesome movies with awesome people, but never really get to play off of any of your idols.
Shiloh Fernandez: It does suck. I joke a lot and I’m not very funny, but I would hope that it would be because they need to balance the movies out, right? (Laughs)
Muldoon: Sure, yeah. (Laughs)
Shiloh Fernandez: They couldn’t throw us together, that’d be too much.
Muldoon: Yeah, that’s a good point. Good point. You said you’re almost wrapped?
Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah, today is Rosamund’s [Pike’s] last day. The bulk of my character plays out in prison, so I’ve been in prison for a few days. We finish up today and then she takes off, tomorrow I do a bunch of smaller scenes and then I’m out of New Orleans, which I’m kind of grateful for, but at the same time it’s such a playground.
Muldoon: So what’s TRANZLOCO and OBSCURA? What can you tell me about those films you’ve got coming up?
Shiloh Fernandez: You know, really I don’t know.
Muldoon: That’s fair. I guess IMDB is not always the most reliable.
Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah.
Muldoon: So what do you have coming up? Is there anything in the immediate future that you’re looking forward to?
Shiloh Fernandez: I mean OBSCURA is my next movie, but with TRANZLOCO I’m not really sure what the deal is with that one. I don’t think this is all set up, but I’m supposed to do one of the coolest movies… (Pauses) I probably shouldn’t say what…
Muldoon: Aw, man.
Shiloh Fernandez: I made my own movie last year in New Zealand and that’s called THE QUEEN OF CARTHAGE. Me and my buddy made it together and we just finished it, so when I get back we have to figure out where we are going to submit it, but that’s a psychological thriller as well about an American who is sort of a drifter and comes to New Zealand and falls in love with a couple and when he’s rejected, he reveals himself to be not what he seems.
Muldoon: Well congrats on finishing your feature. I know all too well how tricky it is to make a movie and it’s really cool to find out not only are you kicking ass on screen, but you also know how it feels to be on the other side of the camera it seems, or at least helping with prep and building it. That gives you such a broader spectrum for future projects. I don’t know the best way to word that, but that’s pretty cool. I really dig it when I see actors creating original work of their own.
Shiloh Fernandez: This one we made for like twenty thousand dollars. I was in New Zealand making EVIL DEAD and I had some time off, so I had this idea and we wrote it in six days, prepped in a week, and shot over fourteen days on my days off. It’s sort of an experiment of “Can you make a movie with zero resources?” I mean, sure that’s what everybody is doing right now. I’ve been acting for a while, but I think storytelling and directing is what drew me to acting, so hopefully I get to start making my own things.
Muldoon: Wait, so you shot it on your days off from this giant movie? You’re pulling long hours, like on any shoot, then on top of that doing your own movie? So you work probably 30 hours a day.
Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah, it's like I didn’t have a day off for around thirty-eight days or something.
Muldoon: Speaking of work, I know you’re on your lunch break, so I do want to let you get back to grabbing a bit to eat without someone talking your ears off.
Shiloh Fernandez: Cool, yeah I should probably get back.
Muldoon: Well Shiloh, thanks again for talking with me. I really appreciate it and good luck with your movie. Clearly good luck with RETURN TO SENDER and future projects, but that’s really cool that you wrote and created your own film, especially how you did it with how little you did it for. I’m definitely curious. Interest piqued.
Shiloh Fernandez: I wasn’t sure that Sony was okay with it. I actually know they weren’t while we were doing it, so I think you’re probably the first one to hear about that. I dig your guys’ site. Obviously you guys were super helpful with EVIL DEAD and I know Fede appreciated it along with myself and everybody, so thank you. Hopefully you’ll get to see this weird little art thriller soon.
Muldoon: Well I’m ready for it. But yeah, get back to lunch. Thanks again. I appreciate it.
Shiloh Fernandez: All right, Muldoon. Take care.
So there we have it, a my quick chat with Fernandez. The guy seems like a class act and in case it's not incredibly obvious - for me - how he shot THE QUEEN OF CARTHAGE adds to the idea of "this is a dude to keep an eye out for." Mega thanks to Will Greenfield for making this happen!
- Mike McCutchen