Emily Bevan is set to return to the big screen this summer with new British comedy The Last Sparks of Sundown, which sees her team up with The Pajama Men, Miles Jupp, Sara Kestelman, and Kayvan Novak, while James Kibbey is in the director's chair.
We caught up with the actress to chat about the role of Lucy Fairweather, working with her director pal James, and what lies ahead for her this year.
- You are about to return to the big screen with new comedy The Last Sparks of Sundown, so can you tell me a bit about the film?
The Last Sparks of Sundown is a really fun, light-hearted British comedy about a pair of brothers who inherit a country estate in England. They come over to pack up the house and sell it; it belonged to their grandfather and they are not really interested in it.
When they arrive at the house, they fall in love with it and start looking at its history. Also, they discover that there are people living there in the form of me and Sara Kestelman: who are holding a few secrets. It all stems from that beginning.
- You take on the role of Lucy Fairweather in the film, so what was it about this character and the script that was the major draw when you read it for the first time?
I started out in comedy and worked on a few different programmes that were really fun to make, such as Phoneshop and The Thick of It and this was a real opportunity to have some fun and to play around with a character that was a bit larger than life. I was very attracted to the script because it was written by our director James Kibbey and produced by Adam Dolman; they are an incredibly dynamic team and I loved their short film House Cocktail. They are a really really talented pair.
It was an opportunity to do something a little bit different and work with The Pajama Men, (Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez) who I was a huge fan of. Miles Jupp and Kayvan Novak are just some of the names that make up a great cast.
In fact, there was one morning when we were doing a big scene, all of the cast were going to be in, and it was like Christmas because I was so excited and felt very lucky to be in a room with all of them, watching them do their thing, and getting to play with them (laughs).
- Throughout your career, you have worked quite extensively in comedy and it seems a genre that you are very comfortable with.
My brother was also very keen on acting when we were growing up and we grew up putting on silly outfits, doing silly voices, impressions of people, and watching a lot of comedy. The stuff that I use to watch as a kid always had that wonderful comic element, such as The Muppets, Victoria Wood, and Absolutely Fabulous. When I got into acting, comedy just seemed like a natural area for me; in school plays, I was quite often the character that would have many of the funny lines. It has just been a natural pull.
As your career develops, you want to show that you can do different things and has it has been wonderful and important to play some more dramatic roles. I suppose comedy is where I do feel at home and it is fantastic to get to have a bit of a laugh; there's nothing quite like making comedy as it is a really great experience.
- Can you talk a bit more about the character, where she fits into the story, and how we are going to see her develop throughout the film?
Lucy is very much a country girl who has been brought up by her grandmother Lydia Fairweather after her parents died when she was five in a freak accident. It really has been her and her granny ever since. She is a little old fashioned, innocent, and she is not the most worldly person. However, she is a little bit cleverer than she lets on, a bit brighter than she appears.
In the film, she meets these brothers and is fascinated by Matthew because he is from America and she has never travelled anywhere; they seem exotic to her. There's a little bit of a spark that happens and a romance grows there that reflects a romance between her grandmother and.... I don't know if I should say that. I wonder if that is giving too much away. The arrival of these outsiders opens her up to the world in a really wonderful way and you see her grow and blossom with this new excitement of falling for somebody.
- The movie sees James Kibbey make his feature film directorial debut with this movie, so how did you find working with him? And what kind of director is he?
James is a friend of mine as well as being a director and the opportunity to work with a friend is brilliant. We have worked together on other projects - we had made a couple of short films together - and there's something really wonderful about James as he has brilliant ideas, he's incredibly funny, but he also allows space for you to bring your own ideas and is open to working together and collaborating with you as an artist. He is wonderful.
He is incredibly laid back and there was an amazing atmosphere on set. We shot the film incredibly quickly and he had Adam Dolman (producer) were tireless throughout that period, kept an amazing momentum and positivity on the set; it was a real joy the whole shoot.
- I was actually going to ask you how collaborative a process was it between the director and actors? How open was he to you bringing your own ideas to the characters and to the scenes?
Before we started filming, I met with James and we went through the script together, we discussed each scene in turn and I had ideas and thoughts that I wanted to clarify. In the rehearsal period with Mark Chavez... I am sure you know what incredible improvisers and performers The Pajama Men are and, when they are together, every single take is completely different and always hilarious.
They are unlike anything that I have ever seen before - they really are so gifted. They are so used to working together and compatible that they are able to take whatever the other one throws at them and move forward, as that is what they do in their live shows. The exciting thing about working with Mark, was that there was an element of that and it was playful, we did the scenes in a loose way and found little bits and pieces that then got added into the script.
On the day of filming, although we stuck pretty much to what was on the page, there was a freedom there, which is lovely. It is often in those little moments that occur when the camera is rolling - completely by chance - that you get some magic. I really like having a tight script but having the freedom to slightly veer off it at moment, while having that foundation. Having no script at all is something that I find terrifying; I have done that before and it was quite scary (laughs).
- A great cast has been assembled for the film with the likes of Mark Chavez, Christian McKay and Kayvan Novak all on board. How was the experience of working with them?
Really exciting. I only got the chance to work with Kayvan for a day but he was terrific. Again, Miles Jupp is so unique, so funny, and had great chemistry with The Pajama Men as well. Sara Kestelman is an actress that I have worked together since in In The Flesh and we have a really lovely relationship - she is an extraordinary actress.
We wooed her as she was in a play with a friend of mine and I thought that she would be perfect for the role of Nan. We went along to see her in the play, left the script at her stage door, and tried to woo her and persuade her to be in it. It was terrific to be able to learn from her as she is so experienced, so dynamic and she is a really incredible woman.
- During your career, we have seen you move between television and film, so how do the two mediums compare? Where does your heart lie?
Interesting question. At the moment, I am really enjoying everything that I do. Independent film... the films that I have worked on so far have all had tight-knit crews and I think what is lovely about that, is that everyone is really invested in the project. To make a film is a huge undertaking, you have to be incredibly committed and passionate to do that, and working on a film like The Last Sparks of Sundown, you really do get a sense of that. It is incredible that they made it happen and that we were all there playing around and making this film. There is a lovely freedom and a sense of excitement that comes from a small film.
On the other hand, it is lovely to have the continuity of television. When you discover a character, it is lovely to sit with it for a while, go on a different journey; you may audition for a character that is written in a certain way but you have gone to completely different places by the time that you start filming. It is quite exciting. In addition, you do get attached to these characters, you grow in confidence, and you start pushing yourself in new ways. I enjoy it all and I have enjoyed every role so far.
- You have also finished work on The Carer and Crow, so can you tell me a bit about those projects?
Crow is a supernatural thriller that was shot down in Wales with a lovely director called Wyndham Price. It is a spooky film about an enchanted forest, which is being knocked down for a new development. I am playing an architect's assistant in that film; the architect is being played by Jason Hughes. I have got a slightly psychic undertone to my character. It is a supernatural thriller and has a really great cast.
The Carer is a film starring Brian Cox as a terminally ill, retired actor, who is given a new sense of hope and purpose by a young Hungarian carer and aspiring actress. It is really beautiful with an incredible cast, including Selina Cadell, Anna Chancellor, and Coco König. I think it is going to be very beautiful. It was a very moving script - when a script makes you cry, you know that you are on to something quite special.
- Finally, what's next for you going through the rest of this year?
I am currently filming the next season of Doc Martin; I am a new regular in the next series. It is a really great role. I am backwards and forwards between Cornwall at the moment, enjoying many Cornish coastline walks, and exploring as well as doing lots of great work. It is great.
The Last Sparks of Sundown is on at the Prince Charles Cinema from 27th - 30th July with Q&As from the director and cast. The film will be available on Amazon and iTunes from August. Visit http://www.thelastsparksofsundown.com/tickets/