Scott Speedman returned to Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital during the final season of Grey’s Anatomybut around the same time he was shooting something very different for David Cronenberg.
Future Crimes has finally arrived in UK cinemas after sparking a lot of discussion following its Cannes premiere and US release. Speedman plays Lang Dotrice who, following the tragic death of her son, seeks the help of Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux).
They are performers in a world where the body undergoes new transformations and mutations as the human species adapts to a synthetic environment. To say more would spoil the surprises in store, though if we even tried to explain it, you’d probably come up with an entirely different read on the film.
The difference between the two projects is not lost on Speedman. “I finished that, and three days later I decided to do Grey’s,” he said digital spy.
“My last scene was working on my son’s body in Future Crimes. Two days later I was in Burbank, Hollywood, working on this body on Grey’s Anatomy with 100 people and huge lights and just a very different tone. It was a strange thing.”
That’s probably an understatement.
To mark Future Crimesof the UK release, digital spy sat down with Scott Speedman to talk about David Cronenberg, his preparation for such a unique movie, and what it’s all about.
It’s rare that we don’t know where to start, but Future Crimes is just that kind of movie, what was your first reaction to the script?
I woke up to an email from David and Robert Lantos, the producer, who I had worked with several times. They said they wanted me in, without any process.
I didn’t know what I expected from the film, but I expected the role to be somewhat minimal. So when I first read it, like any other actor, I was pretty focused on what role they wanted me to play, and I was kind of overwhelmed.
I was so happy to see what a cool, interesting, and dynamic part that was – and what a starring role it was in the movie, so I was really excited about that part. And then once I digested that, I went back and continually read the script over and over and over again trying to understand it as much as possible.
I was surprised to be able to do a David Cronenberg film, but not in the vein of Eastern promises – one of his old school “body horror” movies. So, as a movie geek, I was super excited.
As a fan, did your expectations of David Cronenberg match the way he actually worked on set?
Yeah, I was blown away by David. You know, in a lot of the interviews that we do as actors, everything is very similar, how we talk about how we love everyone, and everyone is amazing, and this, that and the other . And that is, to be honest, not really the case.
For me, David has exceeded all my expectations of working with someone who has been doing this for a long time. And not just the end result, and not just the process, but him as a man was quite breathtaking to me – how quietly confident he was as a director.
I don’t know how to articulate it more than that. He was incredibly comfortable. He lacked pretension. He was just a pure artist, way more than most times I’ve worked with anyone. So it blew my mind, how sweet and kind he was and into the job he was.
He wasn’t doing it for anything other than art, it was like. So I loved that. It was an incredible experience for me.
You’ve already been inspired to read the script a few times, but how did you prepare for such a unique role?
Sometimes you do jobs where you want to have a light touch with things. You don’t want to work on it too much, and that’s the job: don’t think about it; so as not to worry too much. It’s on the page. The more you think about it, the worse your performance will be.
And then there are roles like this where… I had to kind of take it down to the poles and try to get to an awkward place. I’ve worked with acting coaches and stuff like that. I did all of this to prepare for the film.
It took a few months. You go over there, kind of vomit it up, and see what happens. But this preparation experience was elementary for me, and it was also a lot of fun.
It takes place in the near future, but explores very current themes, especially in terms of the environment. Is there a particular theme that stood out to you?
Just that, I would say, is the thing that jumped out at me the most. That’s where my brain goes.
I think for David – and I don’t want to get into that thematically too much – but there’s always the technological side of things, and now it’s getting internalized and internalized and internalized, and what it does to our bodies.
But environmental issues are what I hung my hat on as a leader of this movement. Lang Dotrice is the leader of this cult-like group. That’s where I hung my hat.
I also tend not to work on themes or anything like that. It’s really the director’s job, and I’m just trying to be of service to the words and the scenes themselves, and trying to make them as dynamic as possible.
There are a lot of difficult scenes in this film to watch, but the moment Lang finds the body of his deceased son is brilliantly acted and one of the hardest to watch. Was it the most difficult for you?
I am a new dad. My girlfriend was pregnant at the time, so I didn’t exactly have that reference. But just to, you know, get in there as much as you can, and get into that dark headspace and that vulnerable headspace in front of 50 strangers is still a scary thing.
Some things you wouldn’t think were scary are a lot scarier than that. It’s something David creates – again, it’s a nice space for you to go to work. He doesn’t want to beat him to death. He films it in a very easy-going way, which makes it easier.
But just trying to get into that headspace is a challenge, that’s for sure.
It looks like a very dirty and inhabited world, but how much have you had to imagine and how much has been realized practically?
It was incredibly convenient. I think David, like everything he writes – really, his mind is set on Toronto, where he lives and has cut his teeth in every way possible when it comes to filmmaking. And it still is today.
Financially, Greece had opportunities for us to make the film with a larger budget. I think when David came in and the team came in – not me but the visual team, the visual departments – it became obvious that this rundown world was obvious.
You might find it in this ancient city. It was going to work very well for us. You could install a camera, but you didn’t have to do much to create a near-dystopian future.
And not in a way that we see a lot on TV and in movies these days, that was created in CGI. It was nice that it was very convenient, and it was 100 degrees at 9pm. It added a lot of feelings to this world. It was fun for me.
Future Crimes has sparked a lot of discussion since its release about its themes and ambiguous ending, is that something you’ve talked about with other actors or with David on set?
Nope [laughs]. I phoned David very early in the process of making this film. I don’t like to talk about a lot of things. I just wanna do my thing a certain way. And him in a very nice way – he wasn’t rude at all – but you could tell he was like, ‘You’re going to do your own thing’.
I think the themes are ambiguous, and what the film is – it’s in the eye of the beholder, the beholder. I think he would have another idea. If you spoke to him five different times, he might have five different ways of talking about this movie.
I don’t think he necessarily has an exact idea of what it means and means. Maybe he does, but that’s not the feeling I got. I think as a viewer he creates these worlds that create these feelings in you as a viewer, and I think that’s maybe the most important thing for him.
UK fans have had to wait a while, but now that it’s finally out, what do you hope viewers get from the film?
You hear that a lot these days. These films are very difficult to make. I mean, I think we’re very interested in television these days. There are still eight or six episodes there most of the time. Eight episodes, 10 episodes, 12 episodes very easy to digest.
But this movie – I think I want viewers to be comfortable in the discomfort when they watch this movie. It is not easy. It shouldn’t be easy. You will not fully understand everything.
And it’s not the body horror elements that are uncomfortable. But everything is different, and accepting the uniqueness of the film, and appreciating that side of things.
Future Crimes has now been released in UK and Irish cinemas. For more information and tickets, go to https://crimesofthefuturefilm.co.uk.