Celebrity Interview: Game of Thrones' Iain Glen Talks on Newest Film, My Cousin Rachel, Motivations, and The Future

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Iain Glen, the versatile Scottish actor known to American audiences as Jorah Mormont, in the wildly successful HBO series Game of Thrones, is starring with Rachel Weisz in the psychological drama My Cousin Rachel directed by Roger Michell.

 

Nick Kendall, played by Iain Glen, is the financial steward and Godfather of Philip, played by Sam Claflin, and has been faithful and very watchful over the expenditures of the estate building it into a small fortune. Kendall is also the father of Louise, played by Holliday Graniger, the only actually eligible female in the area and a lifelong friend of Philip. Louise and Philip seem destined to marry.

The cast of My Cousin Rachel, Sam Claflin, Rachel Weisz, Iain Glen, Holliday Graniger and Director Roger Michell recently attended the press day held in London. Having the opportunity to participate via telephone my interview with Iain Glen is below.

Casting, Rehearsal, and Filming

Janet Walker: Congratulations on the film. Describe how you got the role and how you ended up being cast?

Iain Glen: Thank you. Well it is one of these lovely things. Roger Michell, the director and I knew each other socially and I've sort of known Roger for a couple of decades and we've had a couple of near misses working with each other and then he sent this script to me and said, "'I love for you to play Nick ."' And I read the script and didn't know the original novel by Daphne Du Maurier and I thought he had some a fantastic screenplay.  And then I read the book and thought how faithful he had been to the things, it's quite a thin novel but very compact and to turn it into dialogue and stay true to the source is very difficult. So, working with Roger, a very good screenplay and then Rachel was attached to it and I had worked with Rachel about twenty years ago on a black comedy in Glasgow called "Beautiful Creatures" so yea, it ticked lots of boxes.

JW: That's very interesting. So how long was it from concept to completion your filming schedule?

IG: Now you got me. I don't know. I think it was a ten-week shoot. We were shooting in country location near to London and then we went to Devon. And lots of the group scenes, the early group scenes, like around the table were great fun and that's were those were shot. So about six weeks filming it. And it was such a lovely cast. It really was a treat to work on.

JW: You had just mentioned the first table read and how fun that was so set that scene for us?

IG: We had about a week's rehearsal in our little studio in London and Roger brought everyone together and just literally we read the scenes chronologically and talked about them. It's always one of those things that's a bit tricky on film you can enter the story at any given point and do the ending first and the beginning last so you sort it sort of gives you a through thread as an actor to chat and it's something the film generally undervalues you don't usually get much if any rehearsal for film but stories like this psychologically complex and subtle behavioral kind of stuff going on it's really worth spending a little time before to the actual pressure of the film day talking about it.

So, we did that for a week in London in which was great fun and we all got to know each other certainly Holliday's characters, my character and Sam we have a history in the film we've known each other for quite some time and then lucky we did those early scenes as Rachel comes in and we have the lunch scene after church.

I think was great fun, mostly scripted by sometimes Roger who throw a curve ball in the air and say I'd like you to improvise I mean you're just finding Rachel incredible funny and then you're transfer to a story of a cart that falls over in the village last Sunday and you're worrying about that which is a bit nerve-wracking but still fun. So those are very good binding scenes when you are all together at the table chatting having dinner talk and they were always very accurate with the period details. Original foods that could have eaten at the time were prepared by a special chef. Yea, you just get lost in the authentic detail of it all.

A Psychological Drama

JW: That's very interesting. You had mentioned the psychological element of it all – I found that to be incredible intriguing it is such a psychological drama and even up to the end one doesn't know who exactly. When I spoke to Roger he said, "he didn't want to know Rachel's motivations and even in the press notes he is emphatic that he did not want to know her motivations leaving it solely up to her. So I was wondering if you could describe the psychological motivations on your end?


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IG: Well, therein lies the drama. Films can do a lot of different things and at times films feel it is their job is to guide an audience through every part of the plot field understanding why their are doing and what they are doing and make sure they get the resolved, the nature of the plot.

And Daphne Du Mauier wrote psychological thrillers that was her milieu. With questions being poised, this slightly disconcerting fearing reality you get, what's going on actually as you search for a truth, the answers.

Rachel played it incredibly well, initially I think the history of the cousins who died of mysterious circumstances, held in esteem in the community, and when she arrives in the community she is just this exotic, extraordinary, beautiful, creature from a different world who upends everyone's reality and we're utterly charmed by her with a reverence for her femininity.

Roger was right it was always true to him he never wanted to give clarity to that's the source novel geared that way. The audience can come to any conclusion they like.

And I've done a bunch of interviews this morning and it has been amazing the diverse reactions to the film and people feel sure she is a sinister person and others feel she is sort of misunderstood. It was erratic sort of youthful behavior that was the source of all the humor. I love that in films, it is the sort of film that I love to watch, I don't like to know every part of the plot. I think that's what it is it's a romance, it's a thriller, it's a psychological thriller where an audience is asked to make up their own mind if they can.

My character, is a very honest man, a rational man, I feel very fondly to the young man, he has always been the legal guardian to I have always been the legal guardian and in charge of his estate and his finances he my character sort of tries to keep him sane and try to get him to behave in a way that where he won't throw everything away, and I think that is what the audience would feel as well.

Challenges, Tests, and Authenticity

JW: The character at the end, there is such an ambiguity about Rachel's character one wonders about Louise, her father, you, that character and what their motivations are, and because as the film goes, he is the most eligible bachelor in the area and she is the single women in the area, without asking you to explain more about your motivations tell me what was most challenging in the film for you?

IG: It really the only thing to keep an open heart and an open mind which was to begin with I may have my suspicions but the moment she arrives I am very entranced by her and the story unfolds there are more elements within the story that make me worry for Philip's future.

So, I think the most challenging thing was to allow the scenes to play it's worth and not to pre-concession and not bring the ending to the beginning or visa versa, so that was the nature of my role.

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In some way, I think Sam's is the hardest role because must feel very contrasting emotions throughout the film, which I feel he does brilliantly well and he perceives a different reality as each new element comes to the floor. Yes, just trying to be the same sane perspective throughout the whole drama I felt was critical to make this role.

JW: Okay so let me ask you about a specific scene – After she receives an allowance, and Philip is beginning to show unrestrained generosity you explain she overspent her allowance, significantly overspent, and in your character's motivation was that authentic or intended to create or to test the mind of a man, what would he do if that scenario occurred?

IG: Were those authentic because that's what I had heard. The trail becomes slightly misted because the tattle I had heard, some was more concrete some less but it was all what I had heard. Nothing is completely set in stone, all I was trying to do was in a way, to explain in a way, "You do not need to give everything away, there is no need to do that, you can love this woman, you don't need to give your entire legacy, your entire estate away to prove you are passionate towards this woman." It was meant to put the reins on to put the blocker on not to test him, just to calm him down and make him see things more clearly. You're dealing with a young man who has had no experience with the feminine world and sexuality. He has lived entirely in a male environment and I'm aware of that and feel very protective of that and don't want him to unravel his life.

And Next . . .

JW: Sure. What was your most memorable moment?

IG: I don't know. I say doing the group scenes were great fun. I very much enjoyed this one scene where I had to go right out to the ocean on a very beautiful horse and gallop all the way to the camera and I think in that shot was the most exhilarating.

JW: That's great. So, what's next for you?

IG: Well, I'm doing a number of things. I think I'm doing a feature called, In Lives and Secrets set in the World War II. We're going to be shooting in Germany in the next five or six weeks and I am looking forward to that and then I have a new season of Cleaverman, a drama that I did a first season of that went very well. And then more Jack Taylor, which is an Irish Detective Jack Taylor and it shoots in Gallway, Ireland.

JW: Well that sounds great. Thank you. Thank you so much. It was great.

IG. Brilliant. Thank you for your support.

My Cousin Rachel is playing in theaters everywhere.

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