THE BLACK SHEEP INTERVIEW: GEORGE MACKAY (HOW I LIVE NOW) KISSING COUSINS
An interview with HOW I LIVE NOW star, George Mackay
I had already spent a decent amount of time casually talking to George MacKay before our official interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. We talked about Toronto, movies, “Game of Thrones” and chocolate. So when it eventually came time for the interview to start, George and I were already conversing like friends.
Before HOW I LIVE NOW, MacKay appeared in films such as THE BOYS ARE BACK and DEFIANCE. Though MacKay did have significant roles in those films, he has yet to break out. Hopefully his latest film will earn MacKay the recognition he deserves. His strong performance in the film as Edmond, a young man who, in the wake of an impending war, falls in love with his cousin Daisy (Academy Award nominee, Saoirse Ronan) surely warrants the attention.
MacKay was attracted to HOW I LIVE NOW immediately. “I remember being so excited reading the first 50 pages, because it was like the best thing I ever read,” he told me, while discussing the pre-production process.
Not only was MacKay looking forward to working with Ronan,, he also found himself greatly attracted to the romance in the film. He said, “Their love is brought out of an understanding and the feeling of being understood allows you to have no inhibitions. She therefore opens up more and more and opens him up too, I think. Their love is born out of this kind of understanding they have with each other.” I myself took the romance with a grain of salt, as the two characters are in fact cousins.
Upon asking MacKay about whether or not he was worried if the relationship would bother viewers he said, “No not really. It’s not a film about incest, it’s a film about two people falling in love. If anything, its kind of a device to say how true love kind of transcends. It’s about the strength of life and lengths that we go to when we are in love and that’s all that matters really.” Like the characters in the film, MacKay obviously believes that love is the most important thing. “I think that’s the way it’s dealt with in the film. It’s acknowledged and it’s touched upon but their love is really all that matters.”
MacKay was very excited about working with Oscar-winning director, Kevin Macdonald (ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND), as he was a director that MacKay admired long before working on the film. On the entire experience, he said, “It was amazing. I was so excited to work with him and wanted to so much because of the other films he’s made and what a great director he is.” MacKay says, almost gushing, “When he does give you direction, it’s very specific and very subtle and it’s something very small in detail that will put a gentle shift on the whole thing that surrounds that. He gives you a fair bit of free reign and lets you work it out for yourself. Once you kind of get over the nerves of doing that, it allows you to trust yourself and gives you another confidence. I think he’s great.”
The film contains a revealing sex scene between the two lovers, and I wondered if as a young actor, MacKay was worried at all about the scene. “I’d never done any love scenes before. It was actually fine when we were doing it. It was funny, me, Saoirse, and Franz the cameraman, we saw it last night and laughed about it. Afterwards we all hugged and he was like, ‘Ya, it’s my first time too! We all lost our love scene virginity together!’ ‘cause it was the first time he’d shot a love scene so we all kind of experienced it together.”
Before we knew it, our time was up. That’s what happens though when interviews go from work to friendly conversations, which Mackay made possible by just being his genuine, open self. This might be a stretch but I think we both wanted the chat to keep going.
HOW I LIVE NOW opens in limited release this Friday in the US and comes to Canada and Video on Demand on November 15.