Actor Kevin Howarth took part in our latest Q&A feature to talk about his work on The Seasoning House, a new movie from Paul Hyett that will be released in the US next month. Continue reading to learn about how Kevin Howarth got involved with the project, whether or not he had reservations about the material, and his experience on set:
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Kevin. Can you tell us how you first got involved with with The Seasoning House?
I’ve been a friend with the director Paul for many years and we’ve worked on a number of projects together in the past. He always voiced his interest in wanting to direct one day and to work with me in that capacity, so when the opportunity came along with The Seasoning House, he sent me the script and told me that he wanted me to play Viktor. I read it and liked what was coming off the page. As well as the actual dialogue I particularly liked the space the narrative afforded for silences, which is quite rare as the overriding tendency now is for movies to be busy and fast. Also, the fact that the story had a somewhat redemptive arc was a big attraction - it felt good to become involved in a project that at least held the promise (if made well of course!) to allow an audience the opportunity to care about the characters.
For our readers who may not be familiar about the movie, can you tell them a bit about your character?
The film takes place in the Balkan’s towards the latter years of the 1990’s conflict. I play Viktor, an ex-paramilitary-turned-war-criminal who is using every shady trick and dodgy deal in the book to keep himself safe from the authorities. He is financing himself through the sex slave trade industry by running a very brutal brothel, which is the eponymous Seasoning House of the title. On the surface Viktor is a callous, amoral, controlling and extremely dangerous character, but he is also deeply complex and wrestling with a number of personal demons.
This is some very dark material. Did you initially have any reservations about taking on the role? What was it about Paul Hyett's vision that convinced you to take this on?
You’re right, this is dark material with controversial themes and it’s a fine line you skate when making a film of this nature: when is it entertainment and when is it not? The most important thing for me right from the get-go was that the subject matter in ‘The Seasoning House’ was not trivialized and thankfully Paul’s vision of the film was exactly in tune with that thinking; titillation and cheap vicarious thrills were never going to be the order of the day. I had no reservations in playing Viktor, as his character is as much a part of our real world as anyone else. The only way to approach any role as an actor, be it dark or otherwise, is to be truthful.
Paul Hyett has worked on dozens of projects as a makeup artist, but this is his first feature film. Can you tell us about his directing style and your time working with him?
It didn’t surprise me that Paul’s transition into directing was a smooth one. He was focused, prepared, trusting, and extremely calm and his attention to detail is excellent, all of which are skills honed from 20 years experience in the SFX make-up world. Paul’s been on enough film sets and worked with enough directors to have learnt and understood the reasons how and why a film comes together well and how and why it doesn’t. He knows what is needed to create the right kind of atmosphere on-set and to get the job done properly and efficiently – he’s a joy to work with. On top of that, he is also a long-standing friend within and outside of the business – we’re both focused and serious about what we do but we also have a great laugh together and that’s so important.
There are so many tense scenes in this movie and it must have been very challenging on set. Can you share with me your favorite, or a memorable on-set experience that you had?
There were a lot of memorable experiences on and off set. I particularly liked filming the scene where Viktor has the conversation with Goran, played by Sean Pertwee, where we are drinking the brandy in my so-called office. There is so much information between the lines throughout that scene - it’s always great to play with that! The nuances of what’s not said are the golden threads you look for in any script.
I actually worked through two weeks of the shoot with a pretty bad chest infection! A chest infection I didn’t even know I had, until the pain one Sunday afternoon mid-way through the shoot caused me to get checked out at the hospital – thanks Doc for finding that and helping me out, saved me from getting much worse! It was a cold winter that year and we were on location for the whole shoot – if there were any challenges at all on-set; it was keeping warm!
Aside from your work on the screen, I understand you do quite a bit of video game voice work. What video game projects do you have coming up next?
Well amongst others, I’ve just finished playing a character called Georgie Porgie in an up-coming game called ‘Wolf Among Us’. He’s a nasty bastard, but funny!
You've also been involved in a number of horror films. Why do you like working in the horror genre and what do you have coming up next?
Hmmm….well… it’s debatable whether some of the films I’ve been in, despite being marketed as horror films, are indeed actually horror films – a point I will always argue. Also, I didn’t actively hunt down the roles I’ve played; they’ve sort of crept up on me. It’s all just timing really and, frankly, some of it not so great timing! In all honesty, working in the genre of horror is no more and no less appealing to me than working in any other genre. I consider myself an all-round actor and all I really crave from the job is to do good work with good scripts and good people and hope then that no one fucks it all up!
I’m reading some scripts at the moment and in talks with certain parties about possible future projects. I’m also writing some ideas of my own down and planning other ventures. I try to keep my options open as best I can, because you can be as sure as death that you will be constantly reminded of how unpredictable the acting profession is and how your fortunes can just turn on a dime!