The “Twilight” films may set teenage hearts aflutter, but the HBO series “True Blood” is the franchise by which a lot more diehard vampire fans swear. For Stephen Moyer, it’s a dream gig — heck, it even landed him on the cover of “Rolling Stone.” In the new espionage thriller “The Double,” Moyer swaps out his accent to play an imprisoned Russian spy/assassin, Brutus, who comes face to face with the man (Richard Gere) who put him in prison. ShockYa recently had a chance to participate in a press day for the film, and chat with Moyer about his small screen hit and new film, his busy schedule, the challenges of shooting out of order, and the exciting insanity of his producing debut, starring “True Blood” castmate and offscreen wife Anna Paquin. The conversation is excerpted below:
Question: Filming out of sequence can be a challenge in any circumstances, but is it especially difficult in a movie with so many twists and turns?
Stephen Moyer: When I started out, I used to think that shooting out of sequence was the actor’s enemy, because it stopped any fluidity or sense of finding your way. But often what happens now, since I’ve been doing this 20 years, is that I find that you’ll shoot something from two-thirds of the way through and it will flavor something, or make you think about something differently, from the beginning of the movie. …My first film was back in 1996, and I worked with a director called Anthony Hickox whose father was Doug Hickox, a famous Hammer horror director. And he always said to his son, “Always shoot the end of the movie two weeks in, because if you run out of money you’ll at least have an ending.” I liked the idea of that, because instead of finding a disadvantage, I think it’s important to look at the positives, and what you can gain from doing it in an odd way. Also, working on a TV show like I do, you’ll do something and then in episode nine was completely counter-intuitive to your thinking. Because not only have you not worked out what you’re going to be doing in episode nine, but neither have the writers. So you’re constantly learning, and I’ve learned to live with it and enjoy it, just see where you end up.
Question: At this point in your career, now that “True Blood” has an audience and has gotten you attention from Hollywood, is there any frustration to the double-edged sword of being able to (only) take jobs within the constraints of your shooting schedule for the show?
SM: Of course. Every one of us, at certain points, has had to turn stuff down. I got a couple of really interesting things that came up and were going to go in the hiatus, and then got pushed to January or February. It’s happened every year that I’ve been doing the show. There’s nothing I can do about that. You also get availability checks for enormous movies that would be life-changing that you can’t do. It happened to me and Alex (Skarsgard) this year, in differing ways. But the reason that people are interested in the first place is because of our show. And it’s a pretty amazing show. I’m proud of it. So for seven months of the year I get to do one of the hottest shows on TV, and then for five months I get to play. And a lot of people in similar situations don’t get that long. We do 12 (episodes), as you know, but if you’re doing a 22-episode arc you get three months off if you’re lucky, and there’s room for (just) one gig. So I could bitch about the ones that got away, but I’m not going to because I love doing what I do.
Question: Do you see any contrast between Brutus and your character on “True Blood”?
SM: It’s funny, because somebody else asked earlier if there were any similarities between my relationship with Richard Gere (in “The Double”) and Alex in “True Blood,” and I was kind of stumped because the truth is that I hadn’t thought of it at all. One could go on and find a metaphor and say that he’s a man imprisoned by his own sense of need, I guess. But no, I didn’t. I was attracted to the fact that this man is trapped, and he’s a dark character using whatever means he can to escape. I very enjoy, as an actor, playing accents, because it feels like another part of my costume. When I go in and put my boots on and change my hair — that’s very much part and parcel of what I do, so it certainly felt like it was a great opportunity to play again.
Question: On “The Double,” was there a discussion of other Cold War-type spy films?
SM: Sure. It has a lot of elements of homage in it — John le Carre thrillers, and everything from “The 39 Steps” through to “Spy Game” or, my favorite, “Three Days of the Condor.” There’s a lot in common with one of Kevin Costner’s early films, “No Way Out,” which is a fantastic film, and in fact (director) Michael Brandt showed “No Way Out” to the cast and crew the night before we started filming because he wanted to give everyone an idea of the colors that he was trying to paint with.
Question: You’re producing a film in which Anna Paquin is starring, is that right?
SM: Yes, it’s a film called “Free Ride,” and it’s the true story of a mom who in 1973 took her kids down to Florida to get away from an abusive relationship and ended up getting tied up in some interesting events… do you know what “square-groupers” are? Those buoys, that are out in the water, (sometimes served as drop points for) big lumps of cannabis wrapped in silver foil. And that’s what this character ends up involved in. Anna plays the mother of these two kids, and the writer-director of the story (Shana Sosin), is in real life the youngest kid — it’s her story. So it’s really interesting, and we’ve done a miraculous job of, in six weeks, finding the project, starting prep, getting a cast, and we went to camera just yesterday. It’s quite exciting, and completely insane.
Written by: Brent Simon