Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Dr. Karen Oughton reports once again from UK’s Film 4 FrightFest that went on last week. This time the Doc’s talking with Derek Magyar, star of NO ONE LIVES, which she reviewed here! Here’s the trailer!
Now let’s see what Doc Karen and Derek had to say...
DR KAREN OUGHTON (DKO): This is an interview with Derek Magyar, star of NO ONE LIVES. Thanks for talking with us, Derek. Can you tell us a bit about NO ONE LIVES please?
DEREK MAGYAR (DM): NO ONE LIVES is a story about a man and his girlfriend and they need to leave town at the last minute. They wind up in a small town that has a group of bad guys in it. I’m Flynn, the bad guy that causes trouble and never listens so I mess with the wrong guy, who is Luke Evans’ character (Driver). It ends up becoming a play on revenge and he ends up killing off my gang one by one – it’s him against me and a kind of a battle of evil versus evil. It’s an interesting story that really well-written with great dialogue and good gore – a little bit of everything.
DKO: Great! What attracted you to the part?
DM: I thought that the character was extremely well-written, actually. I thought that to get a chance to get a character who had no moral compass was exciting. To dive into somewhere that’s very far fetched from who I am as a person and find myself somewhere within that character was amazing. I lived it and ate it and breathed it every day. It was a very ‘method’ role for me. We needed it to be for it to feel real.
DKO: How did you prepare for it considering you’re so chilled and you’re playing such a nasty character?
DM: I spent some time in the location a couple of weeks early and really got familiar with the space and surroundings. I began researching serial killers and psychopaths and then started finding it within myself.
DKO: Which serial killers and psychopaths did you research for the role?
DM: The person I was most attracted to was Jeffrey Dahmer.
DKO: Oh man!
DM: Serial killers who play a character almost before they kill someone, you know? There’s a whole game before the kill. I tried to have Flynn be someone who was holding in all this rage and craziness and when given the opportunity to explode would do so, but otherwise was extremely constrained in not constantly going crazy destroying things and killing people.
DKO: I love the idea of you taking on Dahmer.
DM: Yeah, he’s a crazy, wild interesting man.
DKO: When did you decide to hold back? Was it something you decided yourself or was it in collaboration with Ryuhei Kitamura, the director?
DM: Most of it was within myself and some of it was with the director. It’s just whatever felt natural. I was given a lot of freedom on set. I enjoyed that. No one really messed with me. I was in my own world and needed to be for the character. I certainly feel like when I walked away from the character I had succeeded. There are certain things I would have done differently – it’s a collaborative medium and we’ve done the best we can with what we have, but I walk away with what I did as an actor feeling I brought everyone I could to the role.
DKO: How did you find being within the part and plot. Did you find it awkward or did it all come very easily?
DM: It’s pretty dark all the time. I didn’t find it that hard in terms of sequentially or how we shot it. Obviously it’s all over the map but I was in it the whole time so it didn’t really matter to me. You meet Flynn in the robbery scene at the beginning and all the way through to the end of the film he’s just nasty.
DKO: How did you work with the other actors?
DM: My character was a real independent. I just stayed away from the others. They didn’t like me and I don’t like them and I felt that also needed to be in between takes as much as possible. I found a connection to the character of Denny in the movie. I found a little bit of myself in his want to be something more than he is and his will to go for it. There’s a moment when he stands tall to me and I appreciate that, but for the most part I was a loner.
DKO: In terms of method acting, have you formally trained or is it something you’ve picked up on your own?
DM: I have trained. I trained at the Californian Institute of the Arts – Cal Arts. I got my VFA and studied experimental theatre. I was there for four years studying Ibsen, Brecht and stuff like that. I just saw A DOLL’S HOUSE last night and it was incredible.
DKO: Wow! Brecht’s certainly different to NO ONE LIVES! What did you find the hardest thing about doing the film?
DM: It was just a grueling shoot. It was Louisiana during the summer. It was 102 degrees on our first day of filming and it was long days and long nights.
DKO: Was the gore easy to work with?
DM: It’s always hard with prosthetics and pieces and while I didn’t have that much of that stuff, I had some towards the end. You’re just as good as your makeup artist and your special effects crew and we were lucky to have great people.
DKO: In one word or phrase, what would you like people to think about the film?
DM: It would be a question: who do you root for when it’s evil versus evil?
DKO: What kind of films do you value as representations of evil versus evil?
DM: I have never seen it before. That’s what I found so exciting about NO ONE LIVES. There’s always a bad guy versus a good guy – Jason Voorhees versus whoever. NO ONE LIVES was a film about the Driver and Flynn and they’re two characters that are horrible and had no moral compass and that was new to me. I found that very unique.
DKO: What distinguishes Flynn’s and the Driver’s moral compass?
DM: The Driver has a code to his madness and Flynn has no code. Flynn just does what he wants because he thinks it’s going to help him get ahead.
DKO: So for Flynn it’s basically about survival?
DM: Yeah. But the Driver at least has a compass about what he has to do and who he has to do it to.
DKO: Do you feel Flynn has an overall plan?
DM: I don’t. I feel he takes it a day at a time. Flynn knows that he wants to be in control from the beginning. Flynn gets it so that he is free to do what he wants.
DKO: Without giving spoilers, what would you change if you did NO ONE LIVES again?
DM: I’m also a film maker. I would change things from an editorial point of view. There were moments that compositionally were a little like HALLOWEEN or FRIDAY 13th and needed to be a lot more serious. Sometimes the dialogue I felt plays out a little campy because of the exterior surroundings and it wasn’t supposed to be campy. Sometimes that is a little disappointing to me.
DKO: Bless your heart.
DM: But I’m proud to be a part of it. Ryuhei is amazing and Luke is amazing. I got a lot out of it and I look forward to working with these guys again.
DKO: You actually mean that, don’t you?
DM: I do. Luke’s become a dear friend and I’m here because of him.
DKO: How do you feel about the way people have already reacted to the film?
DM: I’m not surprised. It’s been a mixed bag. I think there are people who appreciate certain elements of it. Some are finding other elements a bit campier than they should be and I agree. I think the director had a great vision, the writers wrote a great script and the actors brought a lot to it but it’s a big collaborative medium and sometimes it’s a real hit, sometimes it’s okay and sometimes it’s horrible. It’s not a horrible film by any means, but I had hoped it was going to be great but it didn’t quite get to that level. You learn from it and you move on.
DKO: What’s next for you?
DM: I have a couple of movies like PHANTOM that I just did with Ed Harris and David Duchovny that just came out. That’s a submarine film and really exciting. I just did bits on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and CSI and a TV show called MAJOR CRIMES. I also have a project that I’m working on as a director and that’ll hopefully start to shoot before the end of the year. It’s called THE SECRETS WE SHARE. It’s a little indie but it’s really interesting. Then there’s a thriller film called THE CALLER, but I can’t say anything about that.
DKO: You also played a gay hustler in BOY CULTURE who is rather different to Flynn in NO ONE LIVES. There are comparatively few guys who will play gay because of the taboos that still exist around it. How do you pick your roles?
DM: Whatever challenges me. Obviously I want a job – you have to work as an actor. I was lucky to do BOY CULTURE and playing a gay hustler is challenging. I’m straight in real life and I wanted to find myself in that character. I’ll play anything I can and love Fassbender. I think some of the greatest work is done when people are playing characters who are really far from who they are. That’s what BOY CULTURE was for me.
DKO: Is there anything you wouldn’t play or do?
DM: Not that I can say. I wouldn’t wanna play gay again right now unless it was something special, but we are doing BOY CULTURE the television show, which is exciting but no, bring it on!
DM: Thank you very much.
DKO: NO ONE LIVES is out now on BluRay/DVD/Video On Demand!
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