Celebrity Interview: SKIN Co-Star Danielle Macdonald Talks on Jamie Bell, Making SKIN Real and What’s Next

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Danielle Macdonald, co-star of the upcoming neo-Nazi film, SKIN, from Oscar winning director Guy Nattiv, sat down with select media recently and spoke expressively on reprising her role as wife/mother in the white supremacist cult.

Macdonald, who played the same role in the short film of the same title, which won an Academy Award at the recent ceremony, discussed character development, the strength of her co-star, Jamie Bell, location work and her upcoming projects.

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From Australia, she moves freely, almost unconsciously, between speaking with an Aussie accent and speaking without the accent. She is articulate, fearless and nine years into her L.A. film career feels like she's hitting a groove.

Below is an excerpt of our interview.

Janet Walker: Congratulation on the Film. What a powerful performance. This is the second "SKIN" film for you. You were also in the short film so bringing both of those together how did you develop your character?

Danielle Macdonald: Honestly for the first one it wasn't based on someone specific, so I did a lot of research into the world of this [culture]. It was something that I didn't know anything about. Honesty, I did study Nazi Germany and World War II but obviously didn't know anything about modern day Skinheads so that was something that I ventured into.

Guy, our director was amazing and very helpful. He gave me a whole list of documentaries to watch and that was really informative, and I did research online and realized how this really does exists in society and how relevant it is for people. Not that there are a huge amount of them, it's that they are very loud and vocal which is almost scarier in a way. And that was great because it helped me understand what I was doing for the short film.

And it also gave me a basis for when I did do the feature already knowing that universe and then specifically for the feature, I did a lot more research into Julie as a character. And her story and Bryon and that was my focus for the feature having already got the groundwork from the short.

JW: Was it a go for you on the second one or did you audition again for the feature?

DM: I didn't have to audition. I feel like the short was my audition process in a way. Guy asked me to do it after he saw the short.

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JW: You started to take about your on-set relationship with Jamie Bell. So, do you want to talk a little bit more about that?

DM: Yes. So, we met up in Los Angeles before we went to New York to film and it was really great. I think the first time we went through the entire script. Every scary thought we had about it, what our opinions are about it, everything. It was just like a few hours of almost like talking each other out of doing it, in a way. Because you have to you have to really evaluate every single piece of it especially when you are doing a script like this that is so topical.

You have to understand what you're doing and what you're trying to say with it. And it was great being able to talk to someone that completely understands that as well and then from there we met up and went through the script a few more times and when we got to New York we were already very comfortable around each other because we met a few more times and at that point we were just kind of like hanging out, grab lunch or play in the games room, that kind of thing and it was great because we were just getting comfortable with each other so when we were on set we had the easy chemistry.

And he did little nice things, like he would never be "Scary Jamie" around me or the kids (the film has three young girls who play Danielle's daughters) he would never take his fake teeth out in front of me, because he didn't want to gross me out, little things like that which were really nice.

He asked me if there was anything I hate, and I told him I hate burping more than anything, its like I have a psychical convulsion against it. I don't know why, anything else doesn't bother me, but that really bothers me. So, he was like "cool, I'll never burp around you."

And then Guy [the director] let us do some improve on set and he told him to burp. I was so mad. I shoved him. And he said, "That's what the character would do." And then he kissed me and I'm gagging, right now. It was completely in character and it was fun. It was all in good humor.

JW: You said you were filming in upstate New York and the film took place in Ohio, Toledo, and Columbus areas and so did you film at all in the Ohio region?

DM: No, we didn't get to, no. That's the thing about taxes when you are doing movies, you go where the tax breaks are we were filming in upstate New York. NYC would have been super wrong, but upstate New York had the vibe of what they were looking for and I think they did a really good job of finding areas that they could use and that's kind of where we ended up.

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It really did feel like a small town where we were staying 'cause it was hours upstate that was really cool. We were in our own little world up there, it meant that everyone working on the film was staying at the same hotel and we were all in this same universe. Nothing else existed, my friends, my animal, back home were all back home, and this was just all that was happening in my life at the time.

So, you just find yourself buried in it. There is nothing else going on, you're not snapping out of it when you go home cause you're hanging out with these same people. It's like you almost become a different version of yourself when your away shooting and when you're doing a film like this it's really great. It's a lot to have to go back home.

Everyone is like I wish I had a project in L.A. and I did also. I shot Bird Box in L.A. and that was difficult; it was amazing to be able to go home at night and it was also difficult going to set every day. It was emotional and I'm emotional in every scene in that movie and its exhausting so you're going there to set and then you're going home and it's like "wow" and so it is a different experience whereas when you are in this world, its becomes everything.

JW: So, what is next for you?

DM: So, this is coming out in two weeks which is exciting. And then I have a mini-series I did with Netflix called "Unbelievable" coming out in the fall which I'm looking forward to and I have a film called "Paradise Hills" coming out in the November as well. I kind of worked back to back to back and now they are all getting released. So, I'm doing a lot of the press train this year.

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Skin, from A24 and directed by Guy Nattiv starring Jamie Bell and Danielle Macdonald, depicts the lives of Bryon and Julie Widner, how they met their decisions which led to his defection from the cult and the amazing, shocking, story of cult deprogramming and his reentry into society. The film also stars Vera Farmiga, Bill Camp, Mike Colter and Mary Stuart Masterson.

SKIN opens in theaters and On Demand July 26, 2019. See it!

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