With Three Summers coming home to Western Australia for CinefestOZ, FilmInk spoke with its two young leads, Robert Sheehan and Rebecca Breeds. The film is opening in CinefestOZ on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, and is up for the lucrative Film Prize.
Set across three years at a WA folk festival, Ben Elton’s Three Summers is equal parts romantic comedy, ensemble piece and political observations, for which the British born comedian and playwright is famous. It’s a film where Australia’s past and present clash against a backdrop of Irish jigs, digeridoos and Morris dancing. Set adrift in this sea of multiculturalism is Irishman Robert Sheehan (Love/Hate, Fortitude, The Mortal Instruments) and Aussie Rebecca Breeds (Pretty Little Liars) playing two star-crossed lovers. Well, potential lovers at least.
“We’ve sort of gone into a CGI world where people accept these highly, intensely colourful worlds as real,” Robert Sheehan laments whilst discussing a recent unnamed blockbuster he’s seen. “I sort of find them a headache. I yearn for the more character driven, more contained stories that I was raised on.”
With a cast that includes Magda Szubanski, Michael Caton, Kelton Pell and even the Bondi Hipsters, Three Summers may not be punching at the same weight as the summer blockbusters, but it’s one that’s packed full of character. As he talks about Ben Elton’s script, you can see Sheehan’s enthusiasm percolate.
He plays Roland, a Theremin player who, at first, feels he’s artistically above Rebecca Breeds’ fiddle playing Keevy.
“It just felt so honest,” he exclaims. “It’s always an exciting thing when you’re reading a script for the first time, and you find yourself running around your apartment, doing little circles, you know? Already performing it and not just reading it as an academic exercise. All of a sudden you find you’re firing on all cylinders, because it does something to you emotionally.”
The Song of Sway Lake, starring Robert Sheehan and Rory Culkin had it’s world premiere on June 21 at the LA Film Festival! Here I have collected some great reviews and interviews with Robert and the writer-director of the film, Ari Gold. Be sure to sign up at swaylake.com to find out when the next screenings will be!
Film Threat – “The editing choices Gold makes raises his film and story to exceptional heights, it’s like watching art that has a uniqueness to it, there’s something that just catches the eye about The Song of Sway Lake, and it draws you in more than most of the films I’ve seen this year. The soundtrack is enjoyable and appropriately captures the film’s themes of longing to recapture better days. The reveal of the titular track is amazing and Ari Gold’s twin brother, Ethan, deserves praise for his musical contributions. The film’s absurdly strong performances, music, and aesthetics all bring to life a wonderful film you won’t want to miss. Do yourselves a favor, and buy a ticket when it comes your way.”
Talk Nerdy With Us – “Robert Sheehan gave a very convincing performance as Nikolai, although his roots are Irish. Where with any other performer it may have been seen as over done, somehow Sheehan’s overall demand of the screen just works. He found the perfect balance between over the top and moderate and sat in it.”
Below is a Soundcloud audio interview with Ari, he chats about Sway Lake at about 27 minutes in.
Continuing on, here is a fun interview with Robert and Ari.
Robert: Ari, it’s so lovely to hear your droll voice.
Ari: Lovely to hear yours as well, if only I could see your feet, then this would really be complete.
R: It would; if you want I can send you a picture.
TNWI: Sorry, am I intruding on anything?
A: Yes of course, this has been going on for a very long time. [Laughs]
TNWI: Well if you need me to step out at any time let me know! Robert, nice to finally speak to you. I spoke with Ari at the festival. I’ve heard you called a lot of names; what should I call you: Robert, Robbie, or Rob?
R: All three, all at once
TNWI: Okay. [failed attempt]
R: You actually did that perfect, love.
TNWI: Okay, that’s a lie, but now we can get started. My name’s Christian. I’m from Talk Nerdy with Us, and actually my first question is for Ari. I watched the film a few days ago, and it was like nothing I’ve seen at the festival so far. I noticed that the water in the film represents a lot of different things for each character; what made you want to create a film with such levels?
A: Well I have to admit that I started with a location, and instead of characters who intrigued me I had this idea of old music and old memories and this beautiful lake; but the deeper I got into it it was more about things that I personally dealt with too. I don’t think I realized how personal it was until I was deep into the process. This idea of frozen versus flowing water and frozen memory and nostalgia versus being present in life is something that I deal with every day, and I think for a long time in my life I was stuck in nostalgia and what if’s and moments of happiness come when a person is present. So the three central characters, Nikolai, who’s fixated on the perfect past that he’s missed by several decades, Ollie (Rory Culkin), who wants to erase the past because it causes him pain, and Charlie Sway, the matriarch who maybe had a wonderful past but she’s stuck in it because she’s also frozen. So all of this imagery circling around water and ice and the vinyl record became very personal for me, so the slush imagery is beautiful to look at and it has a spiritual and emotional resonance that was important to me as well. I wanted to communicate that to an audience in terms of three characters attempting to liberate themselves from that.
TNWI: And Robbie, aside from Ari’s charm and everything, what made you come on to this project?
R: Funnily enough, I came on despite that. [Laughs] I came onto the role because I was twenty four, and they said do you want to go make a movie in upstate New York. I said “Fuck yeah, I do,” and that was my first reaction. Then I met Ari over Skype and just immediately had second thoughts, [Laughs] No, but really it seemed like a very exciting prospect at the time.
A: He called it his practice movie when he was working. He used it as a way of torturing us because he knew that we were lucky to have the meteor that is Sheehan gracing us with his light.
TNWI: Ari, what made you go with Robert instead of a Russian actor for the role?
A: I talked about this during the Q and A at the premiere. I auditioned a lot of people for the role, including Russians and Americans, but Robbie was the only person that naturally had the spirit of the character who Nikoli was based on: my Russian director friend Sergei, who agreed when he saw Robbie that every other Russian guy that we found was just not as good as Robbie, and maybe there’s some kind of spiritual connection between Ireland and Russia, I don’t know. But Robbie has this bombastic flare that is so essential to counterpoint the Ollie Sway (Rory Culkin) character. No one else had even close a molecule of it, and Robbie had a supernova effect of that energy that I think even you can tell he has.
R: Yeah, sorry I’ve been so flaky getting me on the phone. Peter Jackson is a very demanding man and sometimes demands foot rubs early in the morning, and I’m the one with the most supple hands so he always asks for me. He just dips my hands in warm butter so sometimes I get caught up doing that.
A: But honestly, I think when Robbie used to joke about The Song of Sway Lake being his practice movie I think now being in a God-knows-how-many-millions-of-dollars Peter Jackson epic is proof that maybe it’s true; maybe he was practicing for his superstardom.
Rob Sheehan chatted to Eoghan about starring in Peter Jackson’s new movie, Mortal Engines! Listen below: