Kara Tointon is returning to the big screen this week as she teams up with actor Dougray Scott from Last Passenger: a movie that marks the feature film directorial debut for Omid Nooshin.
We caught up with the actress to chat about the film, working with the director and the cast and what lies ahead.
- Last Passenger is set to hit the big screen this week so can you tell me a little bit about the film?
I would categorise the movie as an indie thriller. It was written by director Omid Nooshin and Andy Love, his co-writer. It has this beginning where you really get to know the characters: that is really lovely because when it all kicks off you are really invested in their story and where they are going.
I play a girl who has recently separated from a long time partner and she has gone out on a girl’s night out but hasn’t stayed very long. On the train, there is this gorgeous doctor who is travelling with his young son, and she can overhear what is being said.
It becomes apparent to her that he is possible single. They get chatting and there is a bit of flirting; the audience is almost led to believe that this film might be a romantic comedy. Slowly things happen and it all starts to unravel and go slightly array. It is all about how these six final passengers are going to get off this moving train.
- You take on the role of Sarah in the film so what was it about the script and this character that initially drew you to the project?
The director Omid came to see a play that I was doing - I was in Pygmalion at the time - and afterwards came back with the casting director and we had a meeting. He showed me the trailer that he has put together with £500.
Anyone who meets our director will see that he is incredibly passionate, and when someone is so driven and you can’t help but get wrapped up in the excitement of their vision and what they are trying to achieve. I saw this trailer and I thought ‘my god that is absolutely incredible.’ Omid and his technical team had created this new way of doing things so you don’t have to do green screen.
We were on a sound stage in Shepperton with three train carriages on hydraulics. There were these special screens outside the widows that had the projections of the journey on them. So for five weeks it felt like I was on a moving train. It was so real and it made it so easy to do.
On most things that I have done each day usually brings a new feeling, a new costume and you move through the project - but this was actually set in time; for the five weeks, you were covering the train journey as it is seen. That was odd in that mentally you would think ‘where am I at?’ It was just about keeping an eye on where you were rather than thinking ‘this is a new day and this is where I am in the script’.
- You have talked a bit about your character already but I was wondering how we would see her develop as we go throughout the film?
For me, it was such a lovely opportunity to work with the director and Dougray Scott and the people that were in it with me: they were fantastic people to be able to work with. She is very easy to play because she is a normal girl who is on a train on the way home.
It was just a pleasure to do. I read the script and it was just a lot of action and has a little bit of everything. It was just an exciting thing to be involved with.
- This is the first time that you have really tackled an action/thriller role, so how did you find stepping into this genre?
I loved it. I thought the script was great and the film projects around Dougray’s story and the battle he has with having his son with him in this horrific ordeal. Your really sympathise with this doctor and his young son.
There is a lot going on that really pulls you towards different characters and everyone has their place in the movie. It was a lot about the action and how they achieved what they did on not a massive budget.
- You have talked about Omid Nooshin already and he is making his feature film directorial debut with this movie so how did you find working with him?
I think I was just so excited to be around someone… in the last three years I have been able to work with people that are so good that you don’t need to worry because they are going to do their job to the best of their ability.
I knew from what I had seen and talking to him about what he wanted to achieve that I could just enjoy it. I have done many jobs where you think ‘oh god’ and you are always worrying, but when you are working with the best I guess the outcome is always the best.
It really was a lovely experience to work with someone who was at the top of their game. From his point of view, it was his first film and so it was important for him to get it right.
- He clearly had a real passion and vision for this film, but how collaborative a filmmaker was he? Was he quite open for the actors to throw in their own ideas?
I think he was actually and, in hindsight, I might have been able to do that. This was my first main role in a film and we were under time pressures and all that comes with a schedule for filming.
He was really great at talking about everything, and we did a lot of prep before we began. It was lovely to be around Dougray, who has been there and done that, and have that kind of experience.
- The director creates a very claustrophobic feel in the film so how did you find the restrictions of filming within these train carriages?
It was tough. As much as you throw yourself into what you are doing at that moment, it is tough because we were always constricted to this odd and quirky spaces. It was a really odd experience for me having that restriction of space. It was just interesting, but it did make for some hard days. It was really fascinating.
It was technically really interesting to see how they were going to the effects, and outside the fires going on. For me, it was interesting to see what was going on outside of the script.
- You moved between TV and film projects throughout your career so how does working in the two mediums compare/differ?
What I love about theatre is the time that you get to look in to and develop everything, and make sure that it is absolutely right before you even show it to anyone: I love that luxury as it means that you can do your best. Sometimes you are under time restrictions with both TV and film.
With film, I think that it is lovely to have a beginning, a middle and an end and you know where you are going. With a lot of TV stuff that I have done, you are never quite sure where it is heading: you might have done things differently if you had known. They are all different realms and arts and I am always really interested in each bit of the industry.
- Finally, what is next for you? Is film where you would like to stay?
More theatre I think. I have done three years of constant theatre, but I am still absolutely relishing it. So more theatre. However, I am working on a couple of educational things, as I am quite involved in dyslexia. I am having a little break after the play that I have just finished, but I do have quite a few things going on.
Last Passenger is released 18th October.
Tagged in Kara Tointon