For Villains, co-writers/co-directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen have crafted a wickedly fun crime caper centered around young lovers Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe), who cross paths with an older couple—George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick)—that thwart their felonious plans, and a game of cat and mouse begins between the two generations (you can read my review HERE).
While at SXSW 2019 last week, Daily Dead spoke with Donovan about his approach to bringing the larger-than-life George to life, and finding the humanity in his offbeat character, as well as collaborating with his co-stars and the film’s directors on Villains as well.
Let’s start off by diving into this character George, and finding the humanity to him amongst all of the other heightened elements to who he is. How was that process for you?
Jeffrey Donovan: That’s a great question. At the heart of the movie is a love story, even if it’s a deluded love story. And Kyra and I really hoped that we could create a history to this couple, where maybe there was violence in their lives and really a lot of pain and a lot of damage, so that when we show up, it’s like they’re wearing these masks, but underneath, there are these demons. So, when these kids come into this house, it's almost like they are seeing their future. It's like this is what they could possibly become if they keep on the path that they’re on.
We knew that if we could somehow create a relationship between Kyra and I that felt real, the stakes are real, and the heart was there, too, it would help elevate this already amazing story where it would make everything even funnier.
Absolutely, and I think what's interesting about them, too, is just how “stuck” George and Gloria are, almost like there’s this quiet desperation to their existence in that house. They’re not good people, but there is a sadness to them, too, which makes them relatable at times.
Jeffrey Donovan: They are stuck, aren’t they? I also feel like they've created almost a movie-esque reality. They're living a life like what they saw in the movies. They almost feel like Rhett Butler and Blanche DuBois, or even maybe like Gone With the Wind meets Tennessee Williams. The clothes were something we took very seriously, too. We felt like as soon as you meet them, George and Gloria should feel like they're from a different time period. But they're not in costumes; they just have an old-fashioned look to them. And it's such a small detail, but I wear a cravat in the dinner scene and it was very hard for Dan and Robert to accept that [laughs]. I was like, "He wears a cravat." And they're like, "No, it’s too much." And I'm like, "He wears a cravat." And so I did [laughs].
So, how was your experience collaborating with this cast, and with your directors, too, where you’re all just building this crazy weird little crime caper together?
Jeffrey Donovan: In a situation like this, we all had to bond. We really did. Because it was just the four of us for five weeks inside of a house, we had to really get along. But I know Bill and Maika are very different from us. Bill is transplanted from Sweden and English is his second language—actually, probably his third language. And Maika came from kite boarding—she was an athlete. So, we had four very different paths that brought us all into that living room. And it was really important to us to have some kind of common language, and find a cohesiveness in there.
In fact, we didn't have a traditional trailer. They actually rented another house nearby, and that was our trailer. Everyone got their own bedroom, then the living room was like the green room, and another room was our hair and makeup. We saw each other every day, so that made for a really tight-knit feeling between us all.
Before we go, I wanted to mention Extremely Wicked [Shockingly Evil and Vile], as I saw it at Sundance, so it was fun to see you again in something at SXSW. How was it working on that film?
Jeffrey Donovan: Yeah, that was a fascinating movie because my character meets Ted during his first arrest. And no one knows that Ted Bundy is Ted Bundy at that point. I don't, but then you see me lose my faith in him and realize that he's a monster. That was interesting because Joe [Berlinger] decided to make the movie about all of the sides that Ted presented. You know, this mask of the good person everyone thought he was, and he didn’t want to show any of the dark, really awful things until the very end. It's almost a way of showing the audience what the public saw at the time that all this stuff was coming out about Ted. Maybe it’s hard to understand if you don’t know anything about it, but once you dig into the type of guy Ted was, and you see Zac Efron in this, you realize just why women trusted him and people were so swayed by him.
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