Claire Foy discusses her feature-film debut in the new supernatural thriller starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman
British actress Claire Foy makes her feature-film debut in the new movie, Season of the Witch, which opens in theaters on January 7th. The film stars Oscar winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as Crusade fighters who return from war to find their homes devastated by the Black Plague. After the church convinces them that a girl (Foy), is actually a witch responsible for the devastation, they set out on a dangerous journey to deliver the girl to a monastery so that monks can use a special book to sacrifice her and lift the evil curse. The film also features screen legend Christopher Lee (The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers) and reunites Cage with his Gone in Sixty Seconds director, Dominic Sena. We recently had a chance to speak with newcomer Claire Foy, about the film, her character's true motivations and working with Oscar winner Nicolas Cage. Here is what the young actress had to say:
Without giving too much away, in the movie your character is accused of being a witch but throughout the film denies it, and eventually the truth is revealed at the end. Was it difficult approaching this role and planting the seeds for the eventual ending without giving too much away too early?
Claire Foy: I loved it. I quite liked having a bit of a secret. It's quite nice and it's also quite a challenge to not play the end game. You don't want to let the audience know what is going to happen in the end. What you have to do as an actress is suspend belief and play every scene rather than everything the character is going to do. If you did that you wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning. You just have to play what they are going to do in that one moment, not the grand scheme of things. In a weird way I didn't want it to be really obvious and I wanted it to be ambiguous I suppose. So I didn't want to give too much away. I also wanted it so that if someone watched it again they might see clues leading to what happens and piece it together. I love doing that when I'm watching films so I hope people will do that with this one. You can't think about stuff like that because you wouldn't be able to do the scene. You can't think about it because it wouldn't be doable. You have to convince yourself to play the intention in that scene, but many of the intentions of my character are veiled and I have to keep that secret from the men. I couldn't go out and yell, "This is what I am going to do!" I had to play that cool.
Do you find it helpful as an actress for your character to have a secret like that and does it give you an extra layer to play with?
Claire Foy: Yeah, I mean it's nice. Nobody ever knows what anyone is thinking at any one time in real life anyways. For all we know everyone is walking around the streets carrying millions of secrets around. So it is quite a real thing, I think. What I also like about the character is that it could just be actually that she has suffered some massive trauma in her life and she is not willing to talk about it. It's more fun to play if you can play a scene with a little bit of a problem in it, as apposed to playing it completely straight. I liked playing a role where I knew something that no one else did and that I got to intimidate everybody all the time. I liked that I had a lot of power. She is holding all of the cards but no one really knows who she is and I liked that. She doesn't care about anyone really. I think she thinks that everyone is so insipid, annoying and disgusting. He opinion is very low of the rest of her captors, apart from Behman (Cage). Her opinion of Behman is low as well but sees him as quite fun because he has a lot of guilt. He's quite a thinking person so she sees him as quite a challenge and someone quite fun to play around with. While they are on the journey she decides it would be fun to pick on him. My challenge was to make sure that they, or the audience for that matter did not see my true intentions.
The film has many historical references like the Crusades and the Plague, what did you think of the script when you first read it and its use of historic facts?
Claire Foy: It's funny to think, isn't it? Everyone thinks of the plague as something that actually didn't happen just because there have been so many books and movies made about it. But it did happen and largely all the special effects that you see in the film are probably very realistic. The main thing that attracted me to it was the character really and how much I could do with it. You know, how adventurous I could be with it and stuff. It was quite an exciting character to play because she is quite mischievous and I quite enjoyed doing it. When I read the script, it really had a drive to it and it was going places. You really felt like it was a script that moved and I liked that about it.
You spend most of the movie inside a cage, what was that experience like for you on the set?
Claire Foy: I didn't quite like my cage but I think people liked me being in there all the time. I heard some very interesting conversations because people would forget that I was in there most of the time. People would be just standing around me and having conversations, which was quite fun. But I did get to sit down for most of the film, which was pretty good. I had a little mattress in there near the end and I was glad that I didn't have to do a lot of horse riding. It was the best of both worlds working in a cage.
The director, Dominic Sena, and Nicolas Cage have worked together before, what is their working relationship like on set? Do they have an unspoken language with each other or do they discuss scenes in detail before shooting?
Claire Foy: I think they have their own language together, I suppose. They've worked together before so Dom knew how Nic worked, so they would always be talking about the scenes. I think they both respect each other quite a lot and obviously had fun working together on their first film. So they were both looking forward to working together again. It was such an ensemble cast and they were so good about it, there was no favoritism or anything like that. Everyone was very equal and the film was very keen to involve everybody. But it was lovely that they had worked together before.
Finally, can you talk about Nicolas Cage's unique approach to acting and what it was like collaborating with him in your scenes?
Claire Foy: I think what is most amazing with Nic is that he has been doing this for such a long time and he is still interested in it. He keeps his energy up and that is the main thing, he always keeps his energy up on set. He is always the person with the most energy, which I think is amazing because he is in the most scenes in the movie. He was always the first person to show up on time, he was never late. He always knew what he was doing, got the scene done and was very professional. I loved working with him as well. Everyone on the crew loved him and he is just a really nice man. I think the way he works is to try and keep his energy up and make sure that he is there on the day, I suppose.
Did he surprise you or do anything unexpected while you were acting with him?
Claire Foy: I don't know but he definitely surprised me in the sense that he is a real actor and he loves acting. It's not just like he's a movie star and he's Nicolas Cage, he's an actor and thinks about the character and thinks about the scene. He has a lot of integrity. He really does think about it, it's not just a job for him and he doesn't take it lightly. He's brilliant.