Nick Rowland and Barry Keoghan spoke with Solzy at the Movies about The Shadow of Violence, opening in select theaters on July 31.
The conversation took place shortly after the film’s world premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival under the former title of Calm With Horses. The Shadow of Violence also stars Cosmo Jarvis, Niamh Algar, and Ned Dennehy. The film also marks Rowland’s feature directorial debut. Screenwriter Joe Murtagh also marks his feature screenplay debut. The film was adapted from a short story in Colin Barrett’s Young Skins collection.
How honored are you that The Shadow of Violence (formerly titled Calm with Horses) was selected for TIFF?
Nick Rowland: Massively. When we found out that we got in, we were grading the film and we had to stop what we were doing. We just went outside and toasted and had a drink and a hug. You work so hard on a film and with an independent film, there’s no guarantee that it will ever find an audience or that it’ll ever have a life. To be able to launch it here, it’s like the perfect start. We’re just enjoying it. The whole programming team has been amazing. Everyone we’ve met has been so friendly and the audiences have been great. It’s been a dream come true.
Barry, this is the third consecutive film in a row that you’ve been in at TIFF. Have you considered buying a place in Toronto?
Barry Keoghan: I wish. I wish I could stay longer in Toronto and I leave today. I’m kind of good at it because I’d love to stay. I’d love to stay and watch more movies because I know the movies here are top quality movies and top quality directors as well. Hopefully, I can get back here next year or the year after with something good.
What attracted you to the screenplay?
Barry Keoghan: Nick was and Joe Murtagh’s script was amazing. That world in Ireland does exist and gave me a chance to kind of show range and play around with some things and kind of mature. It’s a very mature role for me as well. That was the attraction for me.
Nick, this was your first feature film as a director.
Nick Rowland: Yes.
What did you feel was the most challenging aspect of the shoot?
Nick Rowland: I think it was like 28 days and we had scenes with animals. We had Jack—the actor Kiljan was five years old. We had car chases that really we only the day to shoot. Everything was always the bare minimum amount of time that we had. We were stretched quite thin because we were doing our exteriors in one part of Ireland. Our interiors were two hours away and then we were shooting the mountains another two hours away. Every day had a new challenge. There was never an easy day. Every day, you looked at it, are we gonna ever get what we need?
I would say that the thing that I was most worried about going into it was probably Jack’s performance—Kiljan’s performance—and making sure that was authentic. But in the end, was a great his little superstar and became actually a very straightforward part of the filmmaking.
You have a lot of dialogue in this film. Did you find this to be a challenge?
Barry Keoghan: No. I mean, no, I didn’t.
Nick Rowland: The thing with The Shadow of Violence, there’s lots of long scenes. There’s actually not that many seat for feature films. There’s lots of quite long dialogue scenes and kind of keeping them in momentum through the story when there’s so much dialogue was quite it.
Barry Keoghan: You certainly didn’t want to talk too long because Cosmo’s Arm was the silent type anyways. Isn’t he, right? Yeah, he is the talker. So yeah, I didn’t really find that a challenge at all.
I love that you have this ability to just disappear into a role.
Barry Keoghan: Thank you. I try to lose myself in a role. I think it’s what we all chase as actors is to immerse yourself fully and to make it totally convincible and so on. And again, I knew I could do that. I knew I could do that with this. I don’t think people have seen any been doing a part like this and these are the kind of projects I’m going to play where it shows a whole range of different emotions throughout the whole film.
Can you talk about your process in preparing for the role?
Barry Keoghan: My process stays the same for everything. I find out who he is and read the script. I ask the questions and get into character. I’m going to remain in character remain physically and everything in character throughout the shoot.
How exciting is it to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Barry Keoghan: It’s really nice. It’s exciting. Exciting times, isn’t it?
Is there anything that you can tell us about your character in The Eternals?
Barry Keoghan: I’m afraid not. I’ve been told to keep it quiet.
How was the reaction at the premiere?
Nick Rowland: It was great. I was a nervous wreck the whole time but it was great. It was such a salvation to have Colin Barrett there. He lives in Toronto so for him to be able to come and see the film for the first time—
Barry Keoghan: He lives in Toronto?
Nick Rowland: Yeah. For us, it was just a wonderful celebration and the audience was fantastic.