This week, taught thriller, Run All Night, starring Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman and Ed Harris is released to Blu-ray and DVD. To mark the release, we chatted to Joel about challenges of getting under the skin of a very complex ‘good guy’…
Can you tell us a little bit of history about your character?
Sometimes when I get into a story and a character, I don’t worry that much about a back story. I kind of just have a sense of what it might be, and then it’s just easy to access the material and the emotions in it. Here, since we talk so much about what’s happened in the past, it was more important to have a very clear image of what growing up was like. And Brad Ingelsby wrote a beautiful script that I really liked, but there was one thing in his script that I wanted to work on a little bit more and that was my character, Mike. He was written very clean cut and he just really was a good guy. And he becomes very much a victim of the circumstance in this film.
And that’s when the back story came into play for me, because I felt like if you have grown up in a neighborhood like he grew up in, and with a father that was alcoholic and a known gangster, it created a very unsafe environment. So that will change you. And also the fact that you don’t have a father. You’ve got a bad father. That will build up a lot of anger and resentment and that has to manifest in the character’s behavior. So that’s why we changed it up, and I felt like it was important that he had violence in him. And that’s why we came up that he had a run with trying to be a prize fighter. It didn’t work out, but that’s how he got out some of the aggression before.
So when these events start to unfold, then we see that Mike is a guy that has a lot of anger issues and he’s physically capable. For him, it’s more of not letting that side of him take over because then he would become like his father, and his whole life mission so far has been to live the polar opposite life of his father and create a life for his children that he didn’t get.
Were you excited when you found out you were going to work with actors like Liam Neeson, Ed Harris and Nick Nolte?
It’s quite easy for me to get comfortable with these guys. I come in with a lot of respect, but I’m also quite confident in what I can do and I’m always very well-prepared. So when we start rehearsing, they know that I’m there. And there’s one thing when you’re working with actors, regardless of how famous they are or what your position is: as soon as you start rehearsing and you feel that the other person is there and is present with you, it always forms a sense of mutual respect.
Your scenes with Aubrey Omari Joseph, who plays the young kid that your character is mentoring, were very good. Was it fun working with him?
He did a great job. Yeah, he was also a serious kid who just came in really well prepared and he was smart. He reads a lot of books, so it was really easy to talk to him and I often try to like form a bond when I work with kids so they feel safe. You rehearse a lot on the side.
A lot of people think that improvisation is that you just come up with something cool. But the way to improvise is to really be well-prepared and very well-rehearsed. And so I was trying to do that a little bit with him and just form a friendship so he felt calm.
But I’m really, really proud of this movie. I’m happy. I felt that this movie really went well, but then you never know how it’s going to come together. And then I saw this film and it was exactly what I hoped it was going to be. It’s tight, but still a bit emotional.
Run All Night is available on Blu-ray and DVD on 10th August.