LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive Interview With The Horseman Actor Peter Marshall
By James Whittington, Wednesday 6th January 2010
Peter Marshall is an Australian actor who is gaining much critical acclaim for his performance in the brutal thriller The Horseman. We caught up with this exceptional performer to discuss his acting past and how he approached such a controversial movie.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?
PM: I was always putting on shows in the lunch hour at school. The Two Ronnies and Dave Allan were big when I was a kid, so a mate and myself would just do a rip-off of their stuff for kicks. I actually went to Acting College to follow my then girlfriend (now wife) who was doing Dance. I didn't want her hooking up with any of the naughty dancer boys, so I auditioned and got in. For years after I graduated I thought "What a scam. I actually get paid for this". Now apart from my family, acting means everything to me. I would and could never do anything else.
HC: Who were your acting role models and did you try to imitate anyone's style?
PM: Theatre has been my mainstay as an actor. So I guess my role models were the more senior actors in the shows I was in or saw. Billy Brown (ex-RSC), Geoffrey Rush, Richard Roxborough. As far as film a general wash of British, American and Aussie actors. But I do love Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. I've never really tried to imitate anyone's style. I just try to find the truth in a script and work from there.
HC: IMDb lists you as starring in the 1988 movie Stormy Monday, did you and if so were you in the North East of England for long?
PM: IMDb has mixed me up with another Peter Marshall - there's a lot of me around. Most of my work was credited to an American Peter Marshall who used to host Celebrity Squares. I'm working through it. I'm also a very famous evangelist!!!
HC: Tell us how The Horseman came about?
PM: Steven, the Director had made a short of the movie which had won several awards and after trying for several years to get the feature made through grants and private investors, he decided to do it himself anyway he could. His dedication, love and hard work led us to where we are today.
HC: What drew you to the role of Christian?
PM: The first thing I thought when I read the script was: I've got to do this. How many actors get to do a full on action-revenge flick? Die Hard - Aussie style! I knew my character's sad, numb violence would be a challenge, and the physicality of the fights scenes would be hell as a smoking 45 year old. So I had to give it a go. Apart from the violence I also found the script very moving and beautiful.
HC: How did you manage to "switch off" at the end of each days shooting?
PM: Before we started filming very violent scenes, Steven would get us to fire up. This involved pushing, shoving, insults or anything required to get us to the level needed. The days were very long. So switching off at the end of the day was easy. A couple of beers, a quick chat and a good lie down!
HC: How did you get on with the rest of the cast? Did any of them stay in character?
PM: Australia's professional acting community is relatively small. So everyone pretty much knew each other. We all got on like a house on fire. We had a common goal, worked like dogs and then toasted the days end. Only one of the cast really stayed in character (mainly as a joke) and that was Damon, the guy who tortures me in the small room with the blowtorch.
HC: How long did the fight scenes take to choreograph?
PM: The fight scenes usually took about 12-14 hours to either choreograph or film. It was summer here in Australia when we filmed so the temperature was about 40C. We were always wet with sweat, and one costume was always being dried as you wore the other so continuity would be right. Water poured in our mouths as quickly as it came out our pores. By the end of the day you could barely move. By the end of the shoot I was literally black and blue with bruises.
HC: There's a large amount of violence in the movie, did you ever think that it was “too much” at times or do you feel it’s all justified?
PM: Some people think the violence is too much. But being a father of three and knowing a lot of other parents, what Christian my character did, I would say is plausible. Justified? I don't know. All I can say is love can make people do very odd, cruel and sometimes-beautiful things. No one ever knows till they're put in the situation.
HC: The film has been praised by critics and film fans alike, why do you think it stands out from other revenge style movies?
PM: The Horseman is raw and real. It's not Hollywood. Dirty gritty fight scenes. Pain, loss and violence all told by wonderfully talented and dedicated actors. How can you go wrong? I am very proud of this movie and everyone involved.
HC: So what do you have lined up next?
PM: I'm doing a play in Cairns (a tropical paradise here in Queensland) up until Christmas. The Shining Path, which is a co-production between The Queensland Theatre Co. and Jute Theatre Co. Then we go on a small tour to Port Douglas (an even more Tropical Paradise!). It's hard work but someone’s got to do it!!!
HC: Peter Marshall, thank you very much.
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