“Ambiguity is good, let it flow, let people read what they want.” Angus Macfadyen
Horror film Alive – the story of two young people who wake up to find themselves held captive in an abandoned sanatorium by a sadistic doctor, with no memories of who they are – was recently released on digital in the UK.
Angus Macfadyen is excellent as the nameless man who likes to operate on them, an unpredictable, unknowable character who veers between avuncular and vicious. This Q&A with Angus was conducted via email during lockdown.
Sarah: How have you been spending Lockdown?
Angus Macfadyen: I am writing about alienation.
Sarah: What did you think when you first read the script for Alive?
Angus Macfadyen: That it was good.
Sarah: Alive is unusual in that none of the main characters has any kind of back story during the film. Do you as an actor always fill in those gaps for yourself, or do you just go with the ambiguity? Where do you think your character comes from and what does he want? Do you have to like something about the people you play?
Angus Macfadyen: Ambiguity is good, let it flow, let people read what they want.
Sarah: Where was Alive filmed? Were you in an old institution for the interior shots?
Angus Macfadyen: Calgary, in an abandoned hospital.
Sarah: Have you ever filmed anywhere that really spooked you and you just wanted to leave?
Angus Macfadyen: Yes I filmed in a porn house once without knowing until I took a nap on a couch and woke up to find a crew filming a sex scene next door on another room with a couch.
Sarah: Alive digs into what a home is, whether it’s a hell or a haven. You had a peripatetic childhood, then you became an actor which means travelling the world and moving into characters’ heads, and you’re well known for supporting Scottish independence. With much of the world in some stage of lockdown, what does home mean to you now? Has that changed, either over time or recently?
Angus Macfadyen: I am tired of waiting for independence. Honestly tired.
Sarah: It’s taken a while for Alive to get to the UK. When you do a film that takes a while to be released, do you need to recap it? Do your characters stay with you afterwards?
Angus Macfadyen: I don’t actually remember shooting this film.
Sarah: Playing someone like your character in Alive, who is so sadistic, but in a small shoot, do you socialise with your co-stars or do you stay away? (Were they scared of you!)
Angus Macfadyen: I can’t tell you if they were scared of me but I definitely wanted to hang out with them.
Sarah: Do you find yourself looking for or accepting particular types of roles now? I just watched 3022 [about a crew stuck on a spaceship who discover Earth has disappeared, and which Angus stars in] – and enjoyed it a lot – and it’s another “home as haven and hell” story.
Angus Macfadyen: Right now there are no roles.
Sarah: Robert The Bruce was released last year, a labour of love for you [Angus wrote and starred in the film]. How did you feel after it was finished? Do you get an adrenalin slump after a movie, particularly something that means so much?
Angus Macfadyen: Yes of course. Now what do I do?
Sarah: What are you most looking forward to seeing on the big screen once new films start hitting cinemas?
Angus Macfadyen: When will that happen?
Read my Alive review. Alive is available in the UK on various platforms including iTunes and Sky.