Picture this: you have just robbed a house, and whilst running away from the scene of the crime you are chased by a security guard. The cat-and-mouse pursuit only ends when the guard falls down a hole in the forest, getting stuck at the bottom of a deep well.
Do you put yourself at risk of arrest by helping them out of the hole? Or, do you keep running?
This is the question new movie Don’t Tell A Soul asks its audience, the directorial feature debut from Alex McAulay who is best known for writing the story of 2017 indie hit Flower.
Not only does the simple premise make for an effective thriller, but it also ensures the focus is on the complicated relationship between the two brothers which is the heart of the story.
British actor Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk, Bandersnatch) plays Matt, the volatile and abusive older brother to the naive Joey, portrayed by American star Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam!, It).
The chemistry between the pair is exceptional, and the secret to the success of the story as we are drawn in by the fascinating sibling relationship.
We spoke to Jack Dylan Grazer all about the new movie, independent filmmaking, and brotherhood. Also check out our interview with co-star Fionn Whitehead here.
Zavvi: Congratulations on the film! It’s a really interesting and compelling story, one which is very unique, so my first question is, what about this project drew you in?
Jack: I had a meeting with the director, Alex McAulay, who had reached out to me and my team saying he had a great idea. I met him and he was such an interesting and mysterious guy, I wanted to learn more about him, especially since he had written it based off a piece of his life.
So that intrigued me and I wanted to know why he had chosen to write about these things. The story was so unique, particular and original, unlike anything I’ve seen before. That requires such creativity and Alex is a creative genius.
Zavvi: The focus of the film is the brotherly relationship, with Fionn Whitehead playing your older sibling Matt. How did you work together to develop this fascinating relationship?
Jack: I suppose off-camera we carried that throughout the process. We were all staying at the same hotel and I remember one day I was coming out to skate and he yelled to freak me out in a big brotherly way.
Zavvi: And did you meet before filming started?
Jack: We met briefly like two days before, but the chemistry was just really natural.
Zavvi: This film follows in a tradition of movies that explore troubled sibling relationships. Why do you think audiences are continually fascinated by this?
Jack: Maybe because some people find that they can relate to it, also classically it’s often much more than just being about brotherhood.
Because they are related, they see things in each other that they don’t like. Like Joey is really naïve and looks for the best in people, and chooses to see the best, whereas Matt is really volatile and violent. They combat perfectly but at the end of the day they are still brothers.
Zavvi: Joey has a really interesting arc, and towards the end of the film we see a lot of fury and anger come out of him. How do you get into the mindset of the character for scenes like that?
Jack: I don’t know if I have a specific method, I kind of just become present in the moment. When I was younger I was always like how do you fake cry in movies, and people would say they would think of their grandma dying or something.
That has never worked for me though as because that happened to me, it didn’t affect the character. So I just immerse myself in the scene as much as possible and I convince myself what is happening to the character is happening to me.
Zavvi: You also work closely with Rainn Wilson in this film. He’s best known for being quite a comedic presence, he’s Dwight from The Office, but here he’s taken on quite a different role. What was it like working with him?
Jack: He’s a jerk, nah I’m kidding, he’s cool and such a sweet guy. He’s so funny. I grew up watching The Office and have always wanted to work with him, so cross that off the bucket list. He cared for me and gave me great advice like ‘man don’t ever do drugs’ and would pull me aside for these paternal conversations. I love him.
Zavvi: He’s not your father in the film, but Joey sees him as a paternal figure.
Jack: Yeah he does serve like the filler for the absent father, which is why Joey is so enamoured with and almost in love with this mysterious person in the hole, he pretends that it is his dad.
Zavvi: Speaking of the hole, that’s like a character in itself. What is it that you are filming in for these scenes?
Jack: So there are two holes. One was like six and a half feet deep which was a hole in the ground in the forest, and the other was like a tower structure with a platform on top.
Zavvi: Ah, okay. Also, I get the impression it was quite close-knit on set, with only a handful of actors and all set in one town.
Jack: Yeah totally. It was probably the greatest crew I’ve ever worked with, everyone was so sweet. I love working on indie movies as it feels like a family, there’s so much comradery and everyone is so talented, it’s really fun.
Zavvi: And the fight scenes between you and Fionn, they are really intense, so what are they like to film?
Jack: They are the most fun scenes to film. When Fionn wanted to put the bag over my head, which I think was his idea and not in the script, it was so fun because it was so real. I genuinely couldn’t breathe but that’s what made it fun, that sounds weird but it’s because it was so visceral, there’s so much passion and vigour. That’s what I crave, I’m such a drama queen.
Zavvi: I imagine you can get sucked into it all?
Jack: Yeah, I live for the intensity.
Don’t Tell A Soul is available to watch on digital download.