Our friends across the pond sent us a heads-up about a very nifty little festival going down in London on May 3 - FRIGHTFEST with Neil Marshall!
Not only will you be able to see his three big flicks - DOG SOLDIERS, THE DESCENT, DOOMSDAY - but each will be accompanied by a pile of actors! Check out who's due to be there, so far.
Neil Marshall, Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Les Simpson from Dog Soldiers. Shauna MacDonald, Alex Reid, MyAnna Burning, Nora Jane Noone, Saskia Mulder, Natalie Mendosa from The Descent and Alexander Siddig, Craig Conway, Adrian Lester from Doomsday. Of course many of the Dog Soldiers and The Descent cast are also in Doomsday.
NOTE: Be advised that the Main Frightfest page does NOT give a full list of actors DEFINITELY in attendance. Panelist Attendees are always subject to change due to filming and other scheduling conflicts.
Dog Soldiers: SciFi Pictures Presents... http://www.scifi.com/onair/scifipictures/dogsoldiers/index2.html
dir-scr Neil Marshall
with Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham, Emma Cleasby, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson, Tina Landini, Craig Conway, Ben Wright, Bryn Walters
release UK 10.May.02
Scotland. In an isolated glen, where only the occasional camper ventures, an inhumanly savage killer is loose. A couple in their tent are worse than slaughtered; their remains look like puree. Four weeks later, a British Army platoon choppers into the same glen on a training exercise. No one's thrilled to be there — they're soldiers, but they're also just guys in camouflage uniforms, and they're going to miss a championship soccer match tonight, out in these godforsaken woods. They have no idea just how godforsaken. Radioman Cooper (Kevin McKidd, who powerfully played Tommy in Trainspotting, gang-leader Malky in Small Faces and the torrid Count Vronsky in the British Masterpiece Theatre miniseries Anna Karenina) is a grim stoic with a conscience. The four other privates — Terry (Leslie Simpson), Joe (Chris Robson), Bruce (Thomas Lockyer) and Spoon (Darren Morfitt) — are each a varying-degree combination of bored journeymen and adrenaline-rush adventurers. Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee, son of former Dr. Who star Jon Pertwee and a charismatic figure in Event Horizon, Soldier, Tales of the Mummy and other films) knows the routine — well aware that even in an exercise, nothing is routine. Hardened as he is, the sergeant isn't immune to the toll that sudden death can have on a soldier — nor the to the toll of surprise, as a body unexpectedly slams into their campfire as if thrown there. Springing to heightened alert, the men explore the area and discover something else unexpected: a special-ops platoon — or rather, their gruesome remains. What the hell are special ops with live ammo doing way out here during a training exercise? The one survivor, Capt. Ryan (Liam Cunningham, First Knight, the supernatural thriller Revelation, the miniseries Attila) is half-dead and in shock, muttering, "There was only supposed to be one!" The special-ops' radio has been shredded — and the platoon's own, ominously and perhaps deliberately, will not work. "The exercise is well and truly over," the war-toughened sergeant announces. But the killing has only begun. By the time a woman (newcomer Emma Cleasby) arrives in a four-wheel drive — saying she's a zoologist who heard shots and that there's some hybrid beast out here you may as well call a werewolf — one soldier is dead, the Sarge has his guts hanging out, and their only refuge is a rural farmhouse. From there, it's Night of the Living Dead. It's Assault on Precinct 13. It's close-quarters combat against a smart, unrelenting enemy, a vicious battle with honor, betrayal, suspense, sacrifice and completely logical surprises.
DOG SOLDIERS won both the Golden Raven Award and the Pegasus Audience Award at the 2002 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. It also took the prestigious Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film at the Luxembourg International Film Festival/Cinenygma. And its pedigree? DOG SOLDIERS producer Christopher Figg helped create an icon of modern horror by bringing Clive Barker's Hellraiser to the screen. His other films include the internationally acclaimed Trainspotting. Writer-director-editor Neil Marshall, who made a 20-minute zombie action film while at England's Newcastle Film School, wrote the screenplay for Columbia Pictures' gangster drama Killing Time. This is his auspicious directorial debut.
A "high octane werewolf movie...Kind of the Howling meets Rio Bravo in the Scottish Highlands, this first pic by writer-director Neil Marshall piles on the action during a long night of lyconthropic assault on a remote cottage, with spirited playing by a small cast and a refreshing lack of CGI that keeps the drama grounded." -- Variety
By: Karen McVeigh.
May 16, 2002.
"Joking with Wolves"
Kevin McKidd tries to appear in productions he’d not be embarrassed to watch with his friends and family.Some movies look like they were great fun to make. Buddy movies. Heist movies. Anything with Cary Grant. But the last thing that springs to mind when you are sitting in the dark feeling scared and a bit sick, waiting for some unseen thing to take yet another victim, is what a good laugh it all must have been for the actors.
But for Kevin McKidd, best-known as Tommy in Trainspotting, the making of Dog Soldiers - think visceral Blair Witch Project meets Zulu in the Scottish Highlands - was the "happiest and most creative" shoot he’s ever been on.
"We all set ourselves up for a fall," says the Elgin-born actor, "We had such a good time making it that we all thought - oh man - the criticism would be bad. We thought they’d be snobby about it, especially the broadsheets, you know: ‘This isn’t what a British film should be doing, leave it to the Americans. we should be doing kitchen-sink dramas, stick to what they’re good at’ kind of thing." But the film, about a platoon of squaddies hunted down by 7ft werewolves, got rave reviews. Empire and Total Film awarded it four stars and as for those broadsheets ... the Observer said it was "among the most watchable British movie of recent months". The Scotsman went one better, calling it "the most entertaining British movie of the year".
At the London PR company where we meet, McKidd has just discovered the movie’s co-star, Sean Pertwee, is in the building and goes off to greet him. I catch up with him over a buffet lunch and remark that, having seen the film, I’m in no mood to eat. In fact, I feel a bit shaky and sick - it’s quite gory. "Great!" he enthuses, "that’s good. Horror movies should make you feel like that." The film is a change in direction for McKidd, 28, a veteran when it comes to playing life’s losers. From hisfilm debut, as teenage gang leader Malky in Small Faces, to his fitness fanatic addict in Trainspotting through to corrupt barrister Billy Guthrie in Channel 4’s North Square, he has had a run of unheroic roles.
‘I’d rather go and ride round on a bike to pay my bills than do what I don’t believe I should be doing, purely for money’
In Dog Soldiers he plays the lead, rifleman Lawrence Cooper, a Boys Own action hero who defends his men to the end.McKidd, who had to endure gruelling combat training to get himself into shape, broke a rib and a bone in his hand after insisting on doing all his own stunts. It was brilliant, he says. "This guy is the action hero - which is brilliant to do, but I wouldn’t say it’s my Keanu Reeves Speed moment."
Playing heroes does make a difference, he says, but not to him. "It probably would, to people in the industry that I would consider to be shallow in their views," he says. "When I did Acid House, it’s all about this character that gets completely f***** over by his wife. He’s looking after the baby downstairs and just when you think he’s about to get out of it, he goes back for more - she says, let’s get back together and he says, OK. I remember a few people in the industry coming up to me and saying, ‘It doesn’t show you in a good light, its not a heroic part, you should be going for that now, this is the next step for you. You need to be a hero.’"I was, like, if I was doing it purely for profile, I’d go and get a part in EastEnders or Casualty or something."
The father-of-two, dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, occasionally thumps the back of the couch, not in anger, more in mild disgust, reserved most often for those behind what he believes to be mediocre telly. Television is definitely not his bag, I discover.
"Personally, and its purely personal, not me trying to take the piss out of anybody, but if you’re interested in furthering your craft - whatever that means - you should be doing theatre and film. I’d rather go and ride round on a bike to pay my bills than do what I don’t believe I should be doing, purely for money."
McKidd, who was supplementing his income by working as a London bicycle courier only three years ago, has been busy since then. He has played the lead in Bedrooms and Hallways, performed Gilbert and Sullivan in Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvy, played Vronsky in Channel 4’s Anna Karenina, and the lead in North Square. Meanwhile, he and wife Jane have moved out of London to the Bedfordshire countryside, to provide a bit of space for their two children, Joseph, two and two-month-old Iona.
When I ask whether, with Dog Soldiers, he has left his couriering days far behind, he is disarmingly honest, or humble, or perhaps both.
"The thing about this game is, if you’re talking about the likelihood of me getting work, I’m not a bankablename. I’m just a working actor. I’m too cynical about it to think that any film I make would make that big a difference. I see myself as exactly the same as I saw myself when I was doing mountain bike couriering. As far as being offered work, OK, it’s the lead guy and he’s a bit cool, so there is that difference, I suppose."
His own benchmark, McKidd says, is simple.
"It’s not some high falutin’ arty thing, just something I’d want to go and see, a play or a film. Most telly, I wouldn’t want to see. There’s an attitude. You can see it, it’s like ‘Oh I don’t really give a s*** about this piece of telly but I’ll do it anyway’. In this game, they dangle a big carrot in front of you, saying, We’ll give you three series and this much money … I’ve done it a couple of times and always not liked myself because of it. Even although I’ve earned decent money, I’ve thought, wait a minute I’ve just spent three or four months doing this thing and if I sat down with my mates and my wife in front of the telly I’d think it was a pile of pish, and turn it over, so why am I doing it?
"I don’t want to lie on my deathbed and go, I’m now a great television actor. I mean, no offence, but that’s where my ambitions lie. Great film actor and great theatre actor."
In Dog Soldiers, McKidd, Pertwee, and the other actors were involved in the creative process. First-time director, Neil Marshall, who also wrote the film, encouraged them to come up with ideas. The resultant movie, says Marshall, was "less gimmick-laden" and "more dramatic". McKidd loves the technical aspect of movies - "the dynamic of close-up" - and the collaboration and wants to explore writing and directing, but not quite yet. "I’ve got ideas in my head, but with two kids - Man, how do you get time to get to the computer and write?"
He admires actors such as the Oscar- winner Jim Broadbent, with whom he recently worked on a film of Nicholas Nickelby, and US actor John Cusack, whom he met on a film about an Second World War arts dealer, Max. In it, McKidd plays George Gross, real-life founder of the Dada movement.
"Jim Broadbent’s a great actor. He’s very unshowy about it all, that’s what I like about him - just comes in and does the job and does it really well, and is really good at what he does.
And Cusack - again, he tries to pick interesting stuff, not going down the obvious route, not going down the blockbuster route. I admire folk that are trying to make their own way through it instead of following the herd."
The son of a plumber and secretary, McKidd wanted to be an actor ever since he took part in school plays at "around six or seven." He dropped out of Edinburgh University, where he was studying engineering, to take up a drama course at Queen Margaret’s College, and from there was picked up by leading theatrical agency ICM.
Playing Tommy, Trainspotting’s anti-drug warning incarnate - somehow missed by those who criticised it as a pro-drugs movie - turned McKidd’s life around. At the age of 21 he became an actor people recognised - with the huge hit as his calling card.It is time, I tell him, to nail the lie about the ubiquitous poster - the one that mysteriously has four blokes and a rather attractive woman on it, despite the fact that Kelly MacDonald was in the film for about five minutes, unlike him. McKidd has always muttered something about "being in Tunisia with his girlfriend" at the time of the publicity shoot as the reason he doesn’t appear.
"Oh yeah," he laughs, "It’s totally cynical. I don’t really know what happened.Originally they wanted six people, but basically I think the PR people and a few others decided it would be better to have a nice pretty lassie’s face on the front than my ugly mug. I could accept that."
He has vivid memories of standing at Waterloo station with his girlfriend on a trip to London at the time and her telling him to turn around "slowly" and look up at an enormous billboard carrying the legendary film poster. It must’ve hurt like hell at the time, but McKidd is pretty nonchalant about it these days.
"You can’t really regret things like that," he says. "In the end, the important thing was, I was in the film. People came up to me afterwards and said, "Oh your character really spoke to me, I’ve been through something like that myself. I mean, that’s what’s important really. "Telling stories in an entertaining way."