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An Interview with Ian Roberts, Star of Hate Crime

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2012

Films starring Ian Roberts on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Hate Crime - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?

 

Hate Crime is the perfect title for this film. Hate is a strong word and trust me this is a film that will invoke strong reactions by those who see it. The movie is about a home invasion. My character is called “Three”, and for good reason. My fellow home invader’s are named One and Two. One is the intellect of the group (I use that term loosely). He’s like the conductor of the group almost. Two is the go between. The worker bee. And Three, well he’s just out of control. The wrecker. What Three wants he gets, or better still he just takes. He’s not someone to judge a situation for what it is. He is the situation more often than not. He makes no excuses for his choices because they aren't choices to him. He’s that dog that’s been beaten on all it’s life - and people wonder why it bites? That’s him coping with his world.

 

Level One, Two or Three.

 

Hate Crime isn't exactly a film that depicts the most ordinary of events - so what did you base your performance on, what did you draw upon to bring your character to life?

 

How do you make a character like that interesting? How do you show he actually does care and has the ability to feel empathy? That was what fascinated me about this and Three’s back story.

 

These type of characters exist in the real world. By that I mean, well here’s a rough example: Have you ever been to a theater play and seen those characters that are so big on stage you think “too much too much”, you think no one is that large in real life. Then you walk out side the theater and right there on the sidewalk are people who dwarf those characters you’ve just seen inside the theatre on stage. It's almost a bit like saying “it could only happen in real life.” Well Three is a bit like that. He’s so big, and not just physical but also in terms of his character (he’s a “who ever screams the loudest wins the argument”-type).

 

You spend the majority of Hate Crime hidden behind a mask - was that at all bothersome?

 

It was difficult. The invaders have ski masks on and additionally to that Three wears a rubber face mask. It was hot all the time. Plus it was very difficult at times to play the truth of the scene and still be coherent. I actually think this is where the found footage aspect of the film works fantastically. It creats a sense of realism you would lose if the lighting, audio etc were all picture perfect.

 

What drew you to the project to begin with?

 

That’s easy to answer. Hate Crime is so extreme. As an actor, part of my process preparing for a role is to read the script at least once a day in the lead-up to filming. I was offered the part about four weeks out from the first day of shooting. I can honestly say I don’t shock easy in regards to film. With my first reading of the script I felt very uncomfortable. That sensation resurfaced every time I read the script each day. Those types of stories are rare. It was a wonderful opportunity to play this type of extreme. How do you make the audience see “Three” as more than simply a one-dimensional character. I want the viewer to actually care about Three. I hope the audience will understand that we are all capable of brutal acts given the right conditions.

 

This also was my first lead role in a feature film. I went straight from the final day of filming on Hate Crime to begin the filming of a romance drama/comedy called Saltwater, also as the lead. You could not have two films that are so polar opposite in regards to their content. I am really pleased with the results.

 

Hate Crime consists mainly of one long continuous single shot. What kind of a strain did that put on you as an actor - and how much rehearsing went into this, actually? And could you ever be tempted into doing another single shot movie?

 

The continuous single shot aspect wasn’t nearly the original problem we all involved thought it would be. We just rehearsed, and rehearsed, and rehearsed. I'm a theater trained actor so in that respect it was very similar to preparing for opening night. The rehearsal process was great. We all got to know a lot more about not just each other but about each other's characters. I've worked on big budget films where the first time you meet your fellow actors is on “action”. I much prefer to at least formally meet your entire crew and cast before filming starts, but hey, this is Hollywood. And for sure I would revisit the continuous single shot genre, as long as I connected with the story. Why not it was a learning experience.

 

A few words about your director James Cullen Bressack [James Cullen Bressack interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?

 

A few words about James. He is easy to work with. Good direction. His energy is fantastic. He loves practical jokes, how can you not love that in anyone. I'd work for him again in a heartbeat. Mature beyond his years. And most importantly he listens to his crew and cast. He may not agree but he’s open to suggestion always.

 

I just want to give Jarrot Cohen a shout-out here as well. Jarrot co-produced and co-wrote Hate Crime. Jarrot you are a trooper. I love your way, man.

 

What can you tell us about the on-set atmosphere as such?

 

Intense, intense and intense.

 

Hate Crime is an at times quite violent film - how could you relate to that aspect of the movie?

 

Im a gay man. Trust me on this aspect: I know first hand the level of hatred some people harbor against others. The way violence is an acceptable justification to their own ignorances.

 

Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: Your initial claim to fame was as a rugby player - so what can you tell us about your rugby days?

 

That seems like a part of my life that was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

I had a wonderful career. I played professionally in Australia for 15 years. I retired in 1998. I represented Australia many many times. It's hard for me to put it down in words, without feeling I'm somehow gloating about it. I simply feel I was very fortunate.

 

What got you into acting eventually, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

Acting and sport are really much the same type of creature. When you think about it all sport is just performance. It's played in an arena. It’s a staged act. Sport just took off for me at a young age. I always acted at school. So it was a natural process for me to continue acting once I retired from sport.

 

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I'm a NIDA-trained actor. The National Institute of Dramatic Art in Australia. It is mostly theater acting.

 

You have also been on a few reality TV shows like Celebrity Treasure Island and the Australian Dancing with the Stars. You simply have to talk about those experiences for a bit!

 

Dancing with the Stars was the most enjoyable 16 weeks of my life. We were runners-up in the Australian 2nd season. My dance partner Natalie Lowe and I had this incredible platonic love affair. Now don’t forget I'm gay so I really mean platonic. We had this chemistry that the viewing public appreciated. The judges would always score us the lowest or second lowest ever week but the voting public kept us coming back every week. I was officially named “The Dancing Building” by the judges. The whole experience was so humbling.

 

Celebrity Treasure Island: That was interesting. It was a New Zealand TV show shot in Fiji. Very much like Survivor. I'd loved it but I got really quite ill during the shooting on the island and had to be taken off the island to hospital after about 5 days. Actually the whole show was closed down as nearly everyone fell sick, cast and crew with the same illness. It was caused by a parasite in the water system that made everyone so ill. So the experience was interesting. Though in saying all that I'd love the opportunity again.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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