Recently we spoke with actor Ray Stevenson about his new film Big Game starring alongside Samuel L. Jackson as a secret service agent gone rogue. We talked about making the film, working with director Jalmari Helander and Finnish actor Onni Tommila and some of his other exciting work coming up. Check out our review of Big Game HERE and our interview with Jalmari Helander HERE.
Andrew Hawkins: First off, I’d like to ask you how you wound up in Big Game playing the character Morris, this sort of double-agent?
Ray Stevenson: Well I got sent the script and I didn’t know much about it. I read it and I thought, “Wow. This is different.” You couldn’t automatically place it in a particular genre. It had its tongue in its cheek and yet it really took itself seriously, but not too seriously. And reading it I just thought, “Wow. This is entertaining, this has got something.” And I had a chat with the director and seeing him is what sealed it. The guy has got this sense of humor and I loved his sense of humor and that he was allowing this story of the boy’s right of passage.
And yet the way they shot it as well was like old school. It reminded me of the movies I watched when I was growing up, these epic movies shot in the mountains and not totally reliant on green screen. I think that element comes across and this character Morris who has that complexity in that he’s not out there to be the bad guy, he thinks that he’s doing the ultimate patriotic act by ridding his country of a weak, ineffectual President and the danger of weakening his own country. He’s got this altruistic ideal, so he’s full of that sort of fire all around, but I enjoyed portraying the role.
AH: You mention that you had great rapport with Jalmari Helander and I’m guessing you had a great time working with Onni Tommila. How was it working with them and the Finnish production?
RS: You know it was great actually. There’s a great group of people that came together to make this happen and make this a reality. There were all the producers, and the Finnish ones as well. It was a wonderful sense of commitment and it was a huge deal for the Finnish film industry. This is the biggest film they’ve ever made, the biggest budget, the biggest sort of Hollywood style and this sort of platform on the global market. And so for them I don’t know how Jalmari dealt with the sort of cultural pressure of that, but he just kind of tracked on and put himself in there. Onni brought an honesty to the role and it was not manufactured at all, not premeditated, and you can’t ask for any more of any actor at that age.
And Sam Jackson was delightful and inspiring actor to work with. He has a passion for moviemaking which I knew he had it, but I didn’t know to what extent. He’s worked with independent directors from the far corners of the globe and what you see is what you get and that what makes him one of the greatest character movie men of our generation. And I met him not so long ago back in London and I had the rare opportunity to go up to him and tell him I was blown away by his work in Django. We just forget how versatile he is.
AH: So have you seen a big reception to the film either in Finland or the States?
RS: I’ve been working actually and just finished Black Sails out here. My father joined me in Helsinki and I’d never been to Helsinki, never had a reason to but what a reception we had. What really hit home was how sort of proud but in a humble way of this piece of work they’d done. Jalmari and Onni were there and how much it was impacting that side of their culture, of the movie side. It was the biggest film and the biggest investment they made, and the sort of realization that being a small sort of often overlooked country and culture, it’s got its own unique identity. But y’know what a privilege it was to actually experience that. It was truly wonderful.
AH: Well Ray Stevenson, this is another great action role from you and I know you mention Black Sails coming up. Do you have anything more that we can look forward to?
RS: Absolutely. I’m flying to New York and I was just busy finishing pictures for National Geographic on the Mayflower landings and we’re going to bring that out by Thanksgiving. I’ve also got the new Transporter movie, Ed Skrien is playing the lead and I play his dad whose an old spy and we had a lot of fun shooting that. So yeah, some stuff’s coming.
AH: Good deal. Thank you so much for speaking with us, it’s been a pleasure.
RS: Thank you man. Take care.