Foreseeing the future with actor Jack Reynor

A prominent actor with a stellar filmography, Jack Reynor shares insight and memories from his journey in the biz

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Since he was around five years old Irish actor Jack Reynor was already focusing on finding away to be on the big screen. He eventually began his acting journey in 2000 when he played an altar boy in “Country.” Years later, Reynor starred in “Dollhouse,” a movie directed by Kirsten Sheridan, an Irish director best known for directing “Disco Pigs” and “August Rush.” The 2014 blockbuster “Transformers: Age of Extinction” catapulted Reynor’s name to the big leagues, and his performance in “Midsommar” further cemented his standing. Below are excerpts from our exclusive interview.

DAMAN: Let’s start with a little nostalgia. Can you share with us a bit about your childhood?
Jack Reynor: I grew up on the Blessington Lakes in County Wicklow in Ireland. It’s a quiet little corner of the country with beautiful views and welcoming villages and towns. It’s a tightly knit community which I’m very grateful to still be a part of. My childhood was spent roaming around the fields and forests there, either on foot or on my bike with my friends. It was a very gentle place to spend those important years.

DAMAN: How did you discover your passion for acting?
Jack Reynor: It was at around the age of five or six when I first developed an interest in the world of mivies and TV. I don’t think I ever had an interest in any other jobs kids think of when they asked what they want to be when they grow up. I was singularly focused on finding a way to be on the screen I loved to watch so much.

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DAMAN: What were some of the biggest challenges that you had to face during the first few years of your career as an actor?
Jack Reynor: The first years are difficult for a multitude of reasons, not least of which are the economic ones. In my late teens it was really difficult to find consistent work, so I was relying on the support of my family a lot at that time. I’m very grateful to them for that support and the confidence they had in my pursuit of a career in the industry.
Besides that, I think the psychological pressure of trying to stay confident that you can break through and make a meaningful career for yourself is a very difficult thing to manage, particularly in those years of your late teens and early twenties.

DAMAN: Among the first titles you starred in is the 2014 sci-fi action “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” Can you share with us the experience of working on such a blockbuster?
Jack Reynor: It was pretty mind-blowing. Coming from a micro budget independent Irish film to a US$150,000,000 franchise blockbuster is not something many people can give you advice about. It’s a fairly unique experience and requires a similarly unique ability to adapt to your circumstances. Luckily, I had my wonderful fiancée and best friend Madeline with me to help me navigate it, and my cousin Graham who is a truly solid individual and indispensable person to have around in any kind of situation, good or bad.
I must say, despite the pressure, the experience was incredibly fun. All those explosions, chases and gunfights were brilliant. The travelling was a dream come true. And best of all, Madeline and I were blessed to spend many evenings in the company of the wonderful Stanley Tucci who gave us a very extensive education in all things related to great cuisine—particularly Italian, of course—and great drinks. His method of making a martini is now the only one I will accept. Our palates were well and truly trained.

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DAMAN: And what about working on 2015’s “Macbeth”? What was that one like?
Jack Reynor: Another great experience! Obviously, there was an amazing cast and director on that film, which made it an easy choice—not to mention the source material. But I had also spent so much of my time as a child in Scotland with my family who live out there. So, it kind of felt like an opportunity to shoot a film in a home away from home, and to celebrate the feelings I have about Scotland and its place in my life.

DAMAN: Did joining the cast of “Macbeth” entail any kind of special training or preparation?
Jack Reynor: Actually, the offer came in so close to shooting the film that I didn’t really even have time to do much preparation. It was sort of a jumping-in-and-just-going-for-it scenario! Justin Kurzel, our director, hadn’t even heard my Scottish accent or seen me read any of the text! But he had a lot of faith in me that I was the right person for the role and he gave me the opportunity which I was incredibly thankful for.

DAMAN: Were there any unique challenges that you had to deal with while filming “Macbeth”?
Jack Reynor: The cold! It was January in the U.K.! So, between the freezing temperatures on the Isle of Skye and the wet and blustery forests of Surrey, we were constantly numb! But there was a great sense of pride and ambition in the air which made it easy to persevere. I think we all knew we were on a special project.

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DAMAN: When it comes to your filmography, of course we can’t skip “Midsommar.” What do you remember most about working on this horror flick?
Jack Reynor: It’s not unlike “Macbeth” in the sense that we could all feel that we were part of a special movie. [Director] Ari Aster is a genuinely singular talent and it was incredibly exciting to be part of that journey and bring that script to the screen. We shot in Budapest during the summer which presented its own challenges. And because there were essentially three different languages being spoken on set— English, Hungarian and Swedish—it was difficult at times for everybody to understand exactly what they were doing. But, again, that’s all part of the experience. And for any difficulty we had while shooting, the final product is an extraordinary achievement for those involved.

DAMAN: How difficult was it to get into your character in “Midsommar”?
Jack Reynor: I think the hardest thing was honestly the final sequence of the film. It was about a week of being completely immobilized while absorbing all of the hatred and anger of the entire village which, despite one understanding that it’s just a performance, presents an unenviable punishing quality. Again, great in the finished product, but not a fun way to spend a week.

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DAMAN: Today, what is your absolute favorite memory from your time working on “Midsommar”?
Jack Reynor: I think the moment we arrived in the valley and saw the village for the first time. We were all blown away by the scale of the production design. It really was an extraordinary achievement, especially in an age when so much is done with CGI. That, and the orgy…

DAMAN: Your latest project. “The Peripheral” for Amazon Prime, is an adaptation of a novel by William Gibson. What can sci-fi fans expect from this series?
Jack Reynor: I think it’s great for fans to have something that’s a new piece of material to experience. There are so many sequels and spin-offs out there at the moment that anything new and fresh is generally welcome. I’m personally a huge fan of sci fi so I’m excited to see what the genre fans think of the show. Not to mention gamers. I hope it’ll find a home within that community.

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DAMAN: You and Chloë Grace Moretz play siblings in the show. What was it like working together with her?
Jack Reynor: Chloë and I had a blast together. We really hit it off right away and I think it lends a special authenticity to our relationship in the show. She’s a wonderful person and I count her as a great friend. When we weren’t on the set working, we were playing “Mario Kart” together or watching the F1 Grand Prix.

DAMAN: When it comes to acting in general, what do you think is it that allows you to succeed in the entertainment industry?
Jack Reynor: I think it’s very important to have interests outside of the business. If your entire sense of self-worth and confidence are embroiled in the business, it’s a very punishing industry to be in. You need to be able to make strategic choices and work towards creative autonomy, but not to feel devastated if a certain audition or job doesn’t play out how you had planned. There will always be more opportunities, but time is your most precious commodity. So, don’t spend it regretting something you have no control over.

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DAMAN: Who are your role models or muses in the realm of acting?
Jack Reynor: I’m a big fan of Dirke Bogarde. I think he had a really extraordinary career, which is beautifully recounted in his autobiography. Richard Harris and John Hurt are two other actors who have my deepest admiration. I’ve always loved the performances of both Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai. “Harakiri” for Nakadai and “Rashomon” for Mifune would be two of the notable highlights.

DAMAN: Besides acting, what are you passionate about?
Jack Reynor: I have keen love of all things with engines. I have had a couple of cars I’ve really loved over the years and I’ve got a couple of great motorcycles too. Outside of that, I love cooking, I do some woodwork and I have a keen passion for all things related to Ireland.

DAMAN: Any future projects you can share with us?
Jack Reynor: I’ve got a film coming soon with Hilary Swank and Olivia Cooke, directed by the wonderful Miles Joris Peyrafitte, called “Mother’s Milk.” It’s a very gritty family/cop drama. It reminds me of some of the great films from the 1970s in its tone and aesthetic. But I can’t say too much about it just yet.

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