Who's that handsome gentleman, we hear you ask? Well, it's Murray Bartlett. You may have seen him in Farscape or in Sex and the City. Anyway, he's in a new film, entitled August. When Troy (Murray Bartlett, Farscape) moves back to LA after many years
in Barcelona he finds that his ex-boyfriend Jonathan (Daniel Dugan) has
begun dating Raul (Adrian Gonzales), a handsome South American
immigrant. Jonathan has helped Raul stay in America, but when Raul
senses the sexual tension between the exes, temperatures rise between
the three men in LA's stultifying summer heat. From award-winning director Eldar Rapaport comes a
languorous, lyrical exploration of love split three ways.
We had a chat with Murray about this film.
How do you feel about Troy?
I think he has good intentions but doesn't think through the potentially hurtful consequences of his actions. And even when he's aware of those consequences he's willing to risk them to get what he wants.
Even though he's doing some awful things, you don't hate him - was that what you were going for?
Absolutely. On paper it would be easy to see him as an asshole, but we wanted to try not to fall into that stereotype and/or make him 2 dimensional. Most of us do (or have done) things that we don't recognize as selfish in the moment, or take actions that seem destructive or unhealthy in hindsight. But that's often how we learn. Troy has to do the things he does for him to learn those lessons.
Did you draw on any personal experience to play Troy?
Yeah, I drew on personal experiences, past relationships, that relate to Troy and his situation, but I've never been in those exact circumstances.
Was he a character you were happy to return to, after Postmortem?
Absolutely. He felt very familiar but I'd grown and changed as a person in the interim, so I had fresh perspective to bring to him. And it was great to have the opportunity to flesh him out more. It was also really wonderful to work with Eldar and Daniel (who plays Jonathan) again. We'd built a history since working together years before that made working on the feature much richer.
Is it true you only had 2 weeks rehearsal and only an 18 day shoot? What was that like?
It was wonderful to have 2 weeks rehearsal! Often there's not that much. We had time to develop and play with the material, improvise, etc.. And it was incredibly useful because the shooting schedule was so tight and time on set was really limited.
You had to shave your head on camera! Were you nervous you'd ruin the take?
Not really. We'd talked through what Eldar wanted, and I was kind of consumed by the reality of actually shaving my head. It was bizarre and felt really good.
You transformed your accent. Is that easy for you to do?
As an australian with an australian accent, it would be limiting if I couldn't change my accent so it's something I'm very familiar with (especially because I live in the U.S.). I really enjoy it actually. And because I live in the U.S. I hear american accents all the time which helps for American characters like Troy.
Was it difficult to learn Spanish for the scene with Raoul?
It took some time but it was a good challenge.
How does film work compare with acting on a soap?
In a day's work on a soap opera you can shoot approximately the same amount of material as an entire feature film. With much less rehearsal. So the difference is huge.
I hear you're producing a short film. When will we see it? What's it about?
It's a 15 minute film called Noor which we shot in a neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, and we've just started submitting it to film festivals. It's about a 13 year old boy who's trying to hang lights in his street for Ramadan, but the obstacles he faces seem insurmountable. It shows this amazing neighborhood, and is a kind of parable for some of the things that are happening in Egypt at the moment.
Do you prefer to be in front of or behind the camera? Why?
I like both. I love the challenge of bringing a character to life and the whole creative process that goes into that. And I like being behind the camera because you have a perspective from outside the action, and can help shape a story from there.
Interview by Erica Buist