Read our exclusive interview with Stephen Moyer, who portrays John Guidi, the new boyfriend of Rachelle Lefevre’s character Mary Kee, in the upcoming supernatural thriller ‘The Caller.’ The film, which was directed by Matthew Parkhill and is set to be released in select theaters on August 26, 2011, follows Mary, who recently divorced her abusive husband Steven, played by Ed Quinn, as she moves into a new apartment. She begins receiving phone calls from a stranger, Rose, played by Lorna Raver, and the two bond over their failed relationships. When Rose reveals that she’s calling from the past, Mary doesn’t believe her, and wants nothing more to do with her. Rose begins to take revenge on Mary for ignoring her and choosing John over her. Moyer discusses with us, among other things, what attracted him to the role of John, and what his working relationship with Lefevre was like.
Shockya (SY): You were originally interested in playing Mary’s ex-husband Steven in ‘The Caller,’ but you ultimately decided that the role of her new boyfriend, John, would be a better fit for you. Given that the characters are completely different, as Steven is abusive towards Mary and John is protective of her, what ultimately attracted you to the role of John?
Stephen Moyer (SM): I felt like the ex-husband was a little dark. I had just come out of a season (of ‘True Blood’) with Bill being dark, and I felt I should to do something a little bit more nice, a little bit more ordinary. I really liked the fact he’s the one central figure in Mary’s life in the movie that’s a warm one. It takes her awhile for her to trust him, but ultimately, she does trust him. I really liked the kind of dynamic of that.
SY: How did you prepare for the role of John?
SM: Well, I sat down with Matthew (the director), and we talked about what John would have done, where he was from, what his life was like, and possibly that there had been some heartache for him, that he probably split up from a relationship, and that he was single. He was hurting from that relationship. This is all off-screen, of course, we don’t see any of this. You kind of prep, with a thought in mind that you try to make the character as real as possible. Sometimes you’ll sit down and write down who those relationships were, and what happened in them. I think what Matthew had managed to do very well is convey (that) Rachelle’s character Mary is in a very difficult place, a very dark spot in her life, with her divorce and what’s going on in the new apartment. So it’s important to sort of put somebody in there who isn’t malevolent or trying to take something from her, and I think that relationship grows very nicely.
SY: When Mary first tells John that Rose is claiming to be calling from the past, why do you think it’s important that he doesn’t believe her?
SM: Well, if somebody I had just met turned around and said to me that she’s having a phone conversation with somebody from 25 years ago, I think I’d find that quite hard to believe. I think for us to make the audience feel the same way, we just can’t burden them with a crazy truth without questioning it first. As the story unfolds before him, he starts to realize there is something in it, and then he starts talking to her. He can see for himself that this person is real. So in a way, what the audience is going through, is they’re viewing (the movie) through John’s eyes. He represents that character that the audience is watching this story unfold through.
SY: Why do you think John ultimately stays with Mary throughout the movie, during Rose’s continued harassment and phone calls?
SM: She’s fascinating. I think she is damaged and beautiful. One of the things that you asked me at the beginning, about how do you work out what your character is. I think the fact that she probably has some damage is something John can see. Maybe (there’s) something in his past, and that’s why we talked about why John is damaged, and whether we can see something in her that he’s experienced himself. Again, it’s all off the page, it’s all off the screen. I think we try to make it real and plausible, make it authentic. Mary’s believability lies in the truth with her, and she feels authentic, so he’s fascinated with her.
SY: The movie is unique in the fact that it very rarely shows Rose, the main antagonist, for the majority of the story, and instead focuses on Mary’s other relationships, including with John and her ex-husband. Do you feel that featuring Mary’s other relationships helped build the suspense of what Rose wanted from her?
SM: That’s a good question. I think that when you’re in the story, part of you is going, is this real? Is she imagining it, is she bipolar? Is this some trauma from when she’s a child? Is she really living this? Are these people that she’s with, John and George (played by Luis Guzman), are they in her imagination? Is the relationship she’s had with her husband so traumatic that she’s ended up hiding in an imaginary world? There’s so many ways it can go, that it’s very difficult to put your finger on any one of them. We all came out of the screening last night (on August 22, 2011), myself and some of the other actors and the crew and the critics and we sat in the bar, and we debated it. Every single person had a different take on what they think it is. Some people think she went through it, some people think she didn’t, some people think she imagined it. Some people think she’s crazy. Some people think she’s making it up to explain her own actions. I think all of these things are really, really interesting. What I was drawn to was that we come out and spend more time talking about the film than we did watching it. That takes us back to old-school filmmaking, where you come out of ‘Close Encounters’ or ‘Jaws,’ and you spend ages talking about the movie afterward. It’s not just popcorn.
SY: Rachelle has said that you two worked well together. What was it about her that led to you two having such a good working relationship together?
SM: We laughed a lot. It can be very difficult doing stuff like this, because it’s such a heightened reality that you’re living. Often the best way to get through it is to make fun of it, and everything around it, so that when you’re not in the moment, you can be free of it, if you know what I mean. I think that we all just genuinely had a good time, and we played a lot of word games. We played Scrabble, and a game called Bananagrams a lot. (laughs) I became so obsessed, that became my thing, that I carry Bananagrams with me everywhere I go now. I was just so impressed how she jumped in with both feet, and completely went for it. I think it’s a subtle, excellent performance from Rachelle. She’s done a great job.
Written by: Karen Benardello