Resurrection Director Andrew Semans Talks Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth


ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Resurrection director Andrew Semans about the thriller, which stars Tim Roth and Rebecca Hall. It is out in theaters on July 29 with an on demand and digital release on August 5. Shudder will be the exclusive streaming home in November 2022.

“Margaret’s life is in order. She is capable, disciplined, and successful. Soon, her teenage daughter, who Margaret raised by herself, will be going off to a fine university, just as Margaret had hoped. Everything is under control,” says the synopsis. “That is, until David returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past.”

Tyler Treese: This is your second feature after 2012’s Nancy, Please. What were the biggest lessons you learned from that initial foray that you were able to apply here?

Andrew Semans: Sometimes I feel like I didn’t learn any lessons, and had to relearn everything on this new movie. I think what I learned more than anything on my first movie is the importance of time management. When you make a low-budget, independent film, I mean, Resurrection had a bigger budget than Nancy, Please. But when you make a low-budget, independent film, time is just so of the essence, and making good use of that. The limited time you have both in pre-production and in production is so key because it’s…I mean, time is everything. Finding time to do what you need to do is everything, and I don’t know if I learned good time management, but I learned the importance of trying to prepare for a narrow window in which to do your work.

Rebecca Hall gives such a great performance in this film. When casting for the role of Margaret, what really stood out about Rebecca and made it clear that she was the right actress for this role?

Well, I’m a huge fan. So that was first and foremost. I just think she’s an absolutely brilliant actor. I think she’s as good as any actor working today. So just the fact that she’s so brilliant was, of course, a major consideration. And one thing that I really loved about Rebecca for this role in particular, is that Rebecca has just, no matter what she plays, she brings this just burning sense of intelligence, probably because she is such an intelligent person, to every role she plays, and she finds a way, no matter what she’s doing, she brings a sense of dignity to her characters. You can’t help but respect her, you can’t help but admire her, she’s formidable in anything she does. And I think that was something we absolutely did in this character and something she delivered.

RELATED: Resurrection Interview: Tim Roth Talks Thriller, Working With Rebecca Hall

Tyler Treese: There’s a lengthy monologue in the film, which works great, and it’s quite the confident choice. We don’t really see a lot of monologues, maybe it’s due to shrinking attention spans, but talk me through the choice of that and filming that scene.

Yeah. The choice of that, I was really excited by the idea. I love monologues in movies. It’s something that you don’t see very much. You see it in the theater all the time, but long monologues just don’t happen in movies very much. I think people are worried that an audience will get bored, or it’s not cinematic or something, but I feel like when they work, it’s something that I just, I just enjoy tremendously. And so I just love the idea of revealing this character’s backstory rather than in little bits and pieces integrated throughout, but in this one big gush, and it was something that’s very scary, because when you have a seven or eight minute, uninterrupted single-take monologue in a movie. If it doesn’t work, the movie’s dead. I mean, there’s no recovering from that.

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So it was something that was scary at first, but after working with Rebecca for the first day or two, it was apparent that she was so brilliant, and had such command over this material that by the time we got to shooting it, I think everybody was pretty confident that she was going to nail it. And we were absolutely right. She came in, we did it twice, she did it twice, and both takes were brilliant. And that was it. So I feel like it was a gambit that paid off.

Rebecca’s character is going through a lot of stress in the film, and you do a really good job of portraying a sense of paranoia throughout. Can you talk me through your choices to try to depict that and capture that through different camera angles?

Yeah, it was tricky. It was always something we were trying to balance because the way we photographed the movie was in a very kind of minimal, strip-down spare style. And we wanted to maintain a sense of naturalism, even finality in the world of the movie because it takes place in these very generic environments and apartments and department stores and offices and hotel rooms. And we wanted that to maintain that sense of, kind of a mundane, very familiar world. But at the same time, we wanted to imbue that world with a sense of paranoia, a sense of menace, and a sense of threat. So it was just always this balancing act where we were thinking, well, how can we introduce that sense of paranoia and do it insidiously in a way that feels subtle, that isn’t knocking the audience over the head. So it was just a million little decisions to try and nudge it in that direction, but not go overboard. It’s something that we really allowed ourselves great freedom with the sound design, that the sound design in this movie is far more expressive, and far more subjective than the photographic approach, which feels more, “objective.” There was no grand scheme. It was just about trying to figure out in any given moment, how can we maintain the things we want to maintain and suggest a sense of increasing threat.



Tim Roth is phenomenal in the film as well. Can you speak to his performance and just getting that haunting nature out of him?

Yeah, I think the thing that Tim wanted to do, and I wanted to do was he liked the idea that people who are evil, people who are malignant narcissists or manipulators, sociopaths, people who do truly bad things, almost never conceive of themselves as evil. They think they’re the heroes. They think they’re the protagonists in their own stories. And generally, think they’re doing the right thing. How they get there is always very different from person to person, but he didn’t want to play this character as a bad guy, necessarily.

He felt that this character was kind of the protagonist in his own story. He was the romantic hero. He felt he was doing the right thing for Margaret, the right thing for himself. So he wanted to play it, not as someone who was oozing menace necessarily, but someone who felt like they were doing the right thing, he wanted to play the guy as a normal person, and he felt that would be more frightening and feel more truthful, and I agreed, and that’s how he went about it. So, he is someone who is a kind of low-key villain throughout a lot of the movie, but I think that makes it more effective. I think it makes it scary.

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You’ve shown a real knack for psychological thrillers. What is it about this genre that you find so intriguing?

I really don’t know. Maybe it is just because I’m a fearful person by nature [laughs], or a paranoid person by nature, but I just love thrillers. I love horror movies, and it’s just a space where I feel most confident and free working in this space. I’m not sure exactly why, but I’ve had my most creative success in this genre space, but why that is precisely, I’m not quite sure.

Without giving anything away, this story is very dark, and it explores some real severe trauma throughout. What led to that? What really inspired this story, and was this sort of trauma always at the root of the core idea?

Yeah. I mean, early on, it started with me being interested in telling a story about parental fears, just basic fears around having a child, and fears around not being able to keep your child safe and wanting to protect them. And just these natural, basic elemental anxieties that any parent would experience. And that was the jumping-off point. But as I was trying to work out a story and work out a character, these other themes of manipulation, coercion, trauma abuse, trauma, bonding, gaslighting, started to influence the story significantly because of an experience I was having, or rather, an experience a friend was having that I was observing. A friend of mine was engaged in a relationship that was with a very toxic person that was very unhealthy, and very scary. And it was something that I was observing firsthand, and I became fascinated by, and very frightened by. In my efforts to understand that relationship and the psychology of both victim and victimizer and really, in an effort to help her as best I could. what I was learning about that situation found its way into the script, began to really change the direction of the script, and became obviously a very prominent part of the story.

It was a decade between the release of this and Nancy, Please. Obviously, it’s a minor miracle that any film gets made, but how often do you want to be directing?

I don’t want to wait another decade. I mean, that was not by design. It is hard to make a movie. And listen, if Nancy, Please had set the world on fire and I became a really hot director after that, that would’ve changed things, but that wasn’t the case. Nancy, Please was a quite obscure movie, and it is just…it is very hard to get movies made and it was something that, it just took a long time. And no, I hope the next time I make a movie, I hope there isn’t a nine-year wait or whatever it was, but that was not a choice I made.



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