CS Interview: Stephen McHattie on Dreamland
Just in time for the ensemble neo-noir thriller’s release, ComingSoon.net got the chance to chat with star Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, Come to Daddy) to discuss Dreamland, in which he stars in a dual performance alongside Henry Rollins (He Never Died) and Juliette Lewis (I Know This Much Is True). Click here to rent Dreamland on VOD!
In looking back at the film’s dream-like nature and surreal tone, the 74-year-old star credited a lot of it to its Luxembourg and Belgium shooting location, as well as the direction of Bruce McDonald, who he previously worked with on the zombie-esque Pontypool and romantic music comedy This Movie Is Broken.
“Well we were mostly in Luxembourg and then a little bit in Belgium and I had a great time,” McHattie recalled. “I was working with a lot of people who are friends of mine and it just kind of went. Working with Bruce, he takes things in directions that I haven’t thought about, so it’s always exciting, it was wonderful. There wasn’t any big problems, other than getting rolling, but once it started, it went great.”
McHattie stars in the film as both an aging and drug-addled musician and a cold-blooded gunslinger and the actor says this dual role spawned from developing the story and characters with McDonald and screenwriter Tony Burgess, as well as his co-star and wife Lisa Houle, after his work on a certain 2009 short film.
“We were trying to develop the idea, so it came out of a little movie about Chet Baker that I’ve done called The Deaths of Chet Baker, it was this little five-minute movie,” McHattie explained. “It was Tony’s idea to double my character, because when I was doing the little movie I really got into Chet Baker and the kind of cowboy side he had and the very feminine, gentle high voice side of him. I was kind of fascinated by him, so it was Tony’s idea to split it.”
While many stars might find taking on a dual role as a challenge in and of itself going into a film, McHattie recalled the biggest challenges for him in Dreamland spawned from the music elements required of him as the jazz musician.
“I played the trumpet when I was a kid, trying to get back into the trumpet was hard,” McHattie chuckled. “It’s funny when you learn something as a kid and then you drop it, 40 or 50 years later you try and do it again and it’s like, ‘Holy fuck, how did I ever do this?’ It’s not much of a singing sequence in the film, but there was quite a bit that we did. I’d say those were the main challenges, just trying to figure out how to do that in a movie, it’s always weird when somebody sings in a movie to me. Unless they’re a singer, because then it’s easier. ‘Can I act?’ That’s a challenge, every time you finish a movie and you get another one, you think, ‘Holy fuck, can I actually do this?’”
Written by Burgess and Whistler and directed by McDonald, Dreamland centers on the night of the strangest weddings in cinema history, in which a grotesque gang boss hires a stone-cold killer to bring him the finger of a fading, drug-addicted jazz legend.
McHattie leads a cast that includes Rollins (He Never Died), Juliette Lewis (I Know This Much Is True), Tómas Lemarquis (Blade Runner 2049) and Lisa Houle (Pontypool).