Film Interviews - - by Fanni Rodek

INTERVIEW: Rossif Sutherland, star of River

INTERVIEW: Rossif Sutherland, star of River Rossif Sutherland [IMAGE: Wikimedia]

River, the Canadian thriller from first-time director Jamie M. Dagg, is coming to the UK on DVD and Download 18th July. We caught up with the film’s star, Rossif Sutherland (whose performance has already garnered him a Canadian Screen Award for Best Actor)  and talked about filming under the radar, moral questions, injustice and being a stay-at-home dad.


order Soma WITHOUT SCRIPT The Metropolist: Congratulations on the movie!

Rossif Sutherland: Thanks! We did it a year and a half ago so it feels like a while. It’s nice that it’s getting some audience. It was a tiny little film we did, a bunch of Canadians going to South-East Asia. We were hoping that it’s going to be something we could be proud of. It was released in Canada, where it was produced and I had no idea that it was coming to England until this interview was arranged. I’m really happy about that! cheap soma online consultation TM: We are, too! It’s great to see a film set in such an exotic world. Could you tell us about your experience shooting in Laos?

RS: It was a very small crew with very little money. Which you would think, we would suffer a lot of disadvantages buti n fact, I’m not sure if we could have pulled it off if we had a big crew and more money. We kind of went under the radar. It was very much guerilla filmmaking . People were not really aware of the camera so we got away with shooting. People weren’t looking at the lens, so whenever we found an opportunity where the setting was engaging and beautiful, we would just pick up the camera and come up with the scene. Staying true to the character, it’s very much of a one-man journey.

It’s about this guy who is a doctor and a do-gooder. He tries to make all his decisions following hir heart and his brain, and by all means he is somebody to respect, even admire. He finds himself in South-East Asia to offer his skills to local hospitals and try and provide western care. He is very passionate about what he does and he gets into an argument at work so he is excused for a week. He finds himself in a bar in this island by the Meekong river. There are a couple Australians getting drunk, they are quite rowdy, trying to pick up some local girls, being quite vulgar and inappropriate and my characters tries to stop them. When he is walking back home, he stumbles upon the Australian and one of the local girls in the aftermath of them having sex. She seems unconscious and the picture looks like the aftermath of rape, so my character intervenes. That’s the turning point of the story where somebody who’s a good person, trying to do the right thing, to protect the innocent, becomes a criminal on his own. The film is very much about this guy who is on the run from authorities and from himself, trying to figure out that turning point in his life. It seems so out of character and now it’s going to define who he is for the rest of his life.

Soma no prescription USA FedEx shipping TM: What is he thinking in that moment?

RS: What does freedom mean? Is he going to have to run forever? He knows if he gets stopped in Laos, considering he ended up killing the son of an ambassador, it’s over for him. A person just disappeared, he knew if he gets caught, he is never going to see the light of day, at least the light of freedom again. It’s a very simple question that the film asks, a universal one. I’m not sure if it gives all the answers, but asks questions. This is why I was so intrigued to go on this journey. It’s a gift as an actor to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and I got to experience it for a couple of months and it took me a while to shake it off. I haven’t work that much since I finished that. I came back from Laos, got my wife pregnant and became a father. That was the result of that experience! Life is short, that much I realised.

TM: Congratulations on that, too! What drove you to play such a troubled guy? What was your aproach when you started to work on this character?

RS: I was really intrigued by him. I think any reasonable person can relate to him, it’s not like I was playing a serial killer or anything. He is ultimately a good person who commits an act, which is an awful one. He sees red and goes crazy, all the anger from all the injustices he’s seen – probably – all comes out on this person. I think we all have that rage inside of us – not that I ever imagine of killing anybody, but I can certainly relate to that instinct. That animal instict of wanting to resolve a problem with violence. And the thing is, he is a smart person. He has all the tools to be pragmatic, reasonable. I was very intrigued about going on this adventure with people who are my age, with the dream and aspiration, passion to make something meaningful. I don’t do these film with any dream of them being seen even; it’s for the selfish adventure of making them. It seemed like such a challenge, an impossible mission. I had to work very closely with the director who was also the writer to get the character to make sense to me. Although in many ways one plus one equals two and you’re a human being full of contradiction so I tried to embrace that. I tried to guess what the story will need and stay true to the character. This was like going to film school to me. I had a chance to wear a lot of different hats and for the first time in my life I lost my temper. The character really got into me, the anger. It was a fascinating experience and as a result of it, I made friends I imagine I will keep for the rest of my life.

TM: About good will and do-gooders and if hurting someone who’s done something bad less of a crime than hurting someone who’s good, what were your feelings about all of these when you were shooting the movie?

RS: It’s hard to not get involved when you see injustice. But it’s also a difficult thing to stay true to yourself and deny the animal inside of you. My character comes from a very civilised society, went to the best schools. You would think he has all the tools to deal with the situation he’s in. I think it mostly has to do with identity. The question of what you did – it was both right and wrong. What does it mean to be free? And how can I be free if I can’t live with myself? What am I? Am I all the things I have done or am I the person who has a good brain and can argue? Am I my political views? We act with our heart sometimes and it gets us in trouble, but it’s also who we are. It’s a groundbreaking question and it’s an everyday question.

TM: It certainly does feel very real and true. All these questions are inside of us and they play an important role…

RS: Yes, we have to live with the consequences of our actions. I’m not somebody who gets particularly angry or mad. I’m at my parents’ country home right now with my son and my wife and the place just brings back all the memories. As I was running around in these fields as a kid, I was a happy, lucky kid. I didn’t get mad because all I saw, what people that get mad do, was apologise afterwards. Saying their temper got in the way, or „It wasn’t me”. It is you though. I had to learn as I grew up to allow myself to be mad, because you’re not being true to yourself either if you are not speaking up. If I think back at the situation of the character, I’m not sure I would have done anything differently if it were me. It’s an innocent person, being taking advantage of by somebody who’s violent and vulgar. He is loved by his parents. He probably has a bunch of wonderful friends buta s far as the character I played is concerned, he is a monster. You’d wanna kill that monster. It was a thrilling experience. Hopefully it’s a decent ride as a film.

TM: It is. And there’s also the sexual assault which is so painfully present in our days. That must have also been really difficult to work with.

RS: It is the ultimate violence. Your body is your property and somebody tresspasses it. It’s like Americans with their guns. You tresspass their property and they are allowed to shoot you. That doesn’t seem to be a solution but with that reasoning, you tresspass on somebody’s body – which is their property – you should be able to shoot them to. Which is what my character does and it is not a solution. It’s the ultimate disgrace. It’s an awful thing to live and survive and it’s an awful thing to shoot. Sex scenes in general, they are not particularly fun to shoot because they are such intimate acts that we are imitating for the sake of telling a story. When you do sex scenes and you actually mean your work, it’s hard not to cross lines. Even there, questions are in your consciousness – „Am I going too far? Is this okay? Is that person comfortable with that?” So to actually take that liberty as a human being to not ask those questions and to just invade somebody’s privacy and violate them in that way – it’s such a monstrous thing to do. On a tiny level, you experience that when you shoot that and it’s really not enjoyable.

TM: Do you have any upcoming projects to tell us about? Are you working on something at the moment?

RS: I haven’t worked all that much since River. I’ve been a stay-at-home dad, my wife is at work now, she’s an English actress. My next job will be in Quebec, a remake of an English TV show called Catastrophe. We are doing it in French – I grew up in France – so I look forward to that. And the material is so light and funny and provocative! I won’t be in the business of trying to reach for these large emotions, instead try and make people laugh and maybe laugh too as a result. And I’m also doing a World War I film that deals with an aspect of the war that I was stupidly unaware of, which had to do with the underground wars. People digging tunnel a hundred feet under ground and laying dynamite. That too is a small Canadian independent film – which in many ways the same as River – will be a cruel challenge but I’m up for those kind of adventures! Like I said, I do these film very selfishly and it’s just something I couldn’t find a reasonable reason to turn down. But I have a son now, so who knows?

TM: Good luck with them and enjoy spending time with your son! Thank you for giving us some of your time!

RS: Oh no, it’s my pleasure. Thanks!



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