Your new movie The
Covenant - in a few words, what is it about?
Covenant is about demons. Not
only literal demons (it has some of those) but also metaphorical demons.
It's about real life demons like cancer, suicide, alcoholism, the loss of
a child, caring for a mentally ill family member, the struggle with Faith,
etc. This movie is about how we face these types of demons in our day to
were your inspirations when writing The
Covenant, and how much research did you do regarding the mythology
it is based on?
Demonic possessions are a very
ancient idea. Most of our influences came from Robert's and my
Catholic upbringing. But we also took a few liberties with the
For me, the main influence was
the original The
Exorcist. The way that film dealt
with the supernatural in a grounded and human way was what made
it so terrifying and ultimately so moving. My favorite scene in
that film is the scene at the end when the little girl kisses
the Priest's collar. It's still (in my opinion) the scariest
movie of all time, but I think people often forget about its
What can you tell us about your
co-writers Robert Conway [Robert
Conway interview - click here] and Christopher R. Smith, and what
was your collaboration like?
It seemed each time one
of us brought a new idea to the script, it added another layer of depth. I
think we all were ultimately after the same thing and that's why the movie
works so well.
Covenant being a horror movie, is that a genre you can at all
relate to, and why (not)?
Well, I've certainly worked in horror an awful lot, lol.
I guess for me, true horror has always been the stuff grounded in
an emotional reality. One of my favorite things to say when working on
these types of projects is that Hamlet is a ghost story.
Not that I don't love a good slasher flick, but the grounded, more
poignant stories that ask existential questions through the prism of the
supernatural are the ones I always prefer.
You also play one of the leads
in The Covenant - so
have you written the character with yourself in mind, and what did you
draw upon to bring Richard to life?
I think Robert had me in mind for
Richard from very early on. But as we were writing the script, I
wanted to simply focus on the story as a whole without getting
caught up in which character (if any) I would wind up playing.
When it became clear that I was
going to play Richard, in a way, my work started all over
again. I think Richard's defining characteristic is his lack of
purpose in life. He has no career and no family of his own
apart from his sister. He's also a freshly sober alcoholic, and
as many of them can tell you, leaving the "party life"
behind can create a real sense of emptiness if you don't have a
proper support network. And Richard is very much alone. On top
of that, he's in way over his head caring for his sister. That
sense of feeling lonely, overwhelmed, and without purpose was
the bedrock on which I built the performance.
with Monica Engesser and Jon Alexander
What can you tell us
about your collaboration with your director (and brother) Robert Conway [Robert
Conway interview - click here]
during the shoot?
Working with Robert is like going home.
He's been pointing a camera at me since we were children so it's always
very comfortable. As director and actor we have a shorthand between us
that makes things much simpler. Also, taking on a character of such depth
and weight was a really intimidating task for me. And In that type of
role, a deep trust for your director is absolutely essential. I was lucky
to have my brother there guiding me through this performance.
Do talk about the shoot as such, and
the on-set atmosphere?
the grim subject matter, we all had a lot of fun. We rented out a large
house and the whole cast and crew essentially lived together. It's a great
pleasure to work with not only incredibly talented people, but people who
are also your friends. When things got too heavy for me (as they often
did) there was always someone to make me laugh. When I felt insecure about
one take or another there was always someone to slap me on the back and
say "you're doing great." That sort of support was a real gift
and I do not think I could have played this role without it.
Any future projects you'd like to
unfortunately, I'm bound by non disclosure agreements from giving away too
much detail. That being said, feel free to check out my IMDb page (wink,
wink). One upcoming project I can discuss is a drama from director Irin
Daniels that I begin shooting next month. It's a hell of a character and
something very outside my wheelhouse.
you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
I've really been acting in one way
or another (albeit, not professionally) as long as I can remember. It
wasn't until after high school when I played a small role in Robert's
first film Redemption that I realized that this was the field
I wanted to go into. I trained at the incomparable Stella Adler Academy in
Hollywood CA. The training I received there not only made me the actor I
am today, but it made me a better man. I'll be grateful forever for the
guidance, knowledge and support I got from my amazing teachers and fellow
students at Stella Adler. If you're a young actor looking for training, I
could not more highly recommend that you seek out the Adler. They're the
talk about your filmwork prior to The Covenant!
my years at the Adler, I did a lot of indie theater. Since then, I've
booked some TV work, some commercial work and a few short films. One of
which is a beautiful short written and directed by Carrie Carnivale called
Beside Her. It's a gorgeous film and I strongly recommend checking it out.
It showed me what can be done with a simple ten minute story. Most of my
feature film work has been with Robert which has been incredibly
would you describe yourself as an actor?
Obsessed. And maybe a little
masochistic, lol. For me, full immersion into a character is the
only way to capture the truth required to give a convincing
performance. I'm not one of those actors who never breaks
character on set because unless you're Daniel Day Lewis or Meryl
Streep, I find that type of "method acting" a bit self-indulgent.
I follow a very simple guideline: Never stop working on the character. You should
always be reaching further and deepening your understanding of
the character. If you do that, the work will always be good.
writers, whoever else who inspire you?
Daniel Day Lewis to me, is the pinnacle actor. Perhaps only
matched by Meryl Streep. Robert De Niro particularly in his early career
has always been a huge inspiration and Mark Ruffalo is a bit of a
personal hero of mine. But it was watching Harrison Ford as Han Solo and
Indiana Jones as a kid that made me want to be an actor one day.
As far as writers go, David Milch, George R.R. Martin, Cormac
McCarthy, Tony Kushner, David Chase, Martin McDonagh, Arthur
Miller and Eugene O'Neill are all on the list. But my biggest
inspiration I would say are the Coen Brothers. Other than of course
Your favourite movies?
Walk the Line, The Big
Arizona, No Country for Old
Men, Hollywoodland, Goodfellas,
Raging Bull, the Star Wars saga, Lord of the Rings... those are only a few.
I could go on all day, lol.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
I don't like to trash other people's work. I learned a while ago that
no matter how crappy a movie is, with the amount of people who have to
come together to make a movie happen, someone, whether it was the writer,
or the editor or one of the cast, SOMEONE at some point loved that movie
and believed in it enough to want to bring it to the world.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
You can always check out my
latest reel on my IMDB page. The Covenant's Facebook page is at
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to
This film was the most challenging, exhausting, grueling and
rewarding project I've ever been a part of. And I mean that in the best
possible way! I just want to thank my brother for trusting me with
this character and I want to thank the whole cast and crew for their hard
work and dedication. It was an amazing experience and I'm honored to have
been a part of it.
Thanks for the interview!
Thank you! And I hope you
enjoy The Covenant!