ICON: Congratulations on your latest role in Ready Or Not. Can you recall your first big break? Where were you when you first landed the role?
Mark O’Brien: “That’s funny I remember it very well, I was in Canada, where I’m from because I’d booked a large supporting role in a mini series called Above and Beyond which was a Canadian mini series, and I was 20 and I was actually on the bus. I got a call – I didn’t have an agent so it was straight from the producer – and he said, “oh we’re offering you the support act”. I completely got off at the wrong stop, I got off a stop early because I was so surprised and shocked…”
You moved to LA about six years ago now. What was the turning point to push you to make the big move?
MO: “I’m just such a fan of movies in general, and it’s the capital of the world for film making. I mean everyone goes there, so I just knew that the best of the best would be there and I wanted to try my hand with my heroes… I just wanted to work in a place where people would just sleep and breathe movies.”
What has been the most challenging role you’ve faced?
MO: “I played a real life goalie, Terry Sawchuk, in the movie Goalie last year, and I found that really challenging because he is such an introverted character. So he couldn’t really articulate himself very well, even his feelings to himself, so it was very hard to play someone with no direct line to why he was doing things or how he was doing things. It was all kind of bottled up and confused… So it was kind of going on raw emotion which was challenging.”
When looking at the popularity of streaming services, do you believe the rise of this new platform is a help or hindrance with up-and-coming actors?
MO: “That’s a really interesting question. I think it’s changed the entire business in a lot of ways because now the world of celebrities is not a small cook of people and if you get in, then you’re just in. There are so many shows, there [are] so many actors that the clique of being a working actor or a star has grown considerably. That’s why I think movie stars don’t exist quite as much anymore, the movie stars do exist but movie stars before all of this began, all the streaming services, so I think it’s changed in that way, among others. But I think it’s beneficial for actors because there’s more jobs, more opportunities and when that happens people are willing to take more risks … they take a lot of risks with actors and people who are unknown, and people who we’ve never seen before and people from all different backgrounds.”
You and your wife Georgina are both featured in recent films. How do you juggle raising a daughter and family life on top of your busy schedules?
MO: “To be honest, it’s very difficult [as] we’re not in the position where we are assisted. We don’t have any of that and we don’t even have any family who live in Los Angles so we do everything ourselves. Basically it’s just scheduling everything to a T, every day we schedule out because we have so much work to do and it’s just impossible to get it all done. She’s my teammate, she’s my friend, she’s my wife. So when someone has something they need to do the other one just picks up the slack and takes care of our daughter for that day or that evening… I take work really seriously because I love it so I really take my time with it and make sure it’s given the most attention that I can give it because anyone watching my work deserves nothing less than something really good.”
What has been the initial reaction to Ready or Not from the public?
MO: “So far it’s been really good through word of mouth and people really like it and everyone I know has been really impressed and that’s so encouraging because in this business you never know if first of all, it’s going to be good. Second of all, if it’s going to be enjoyable and third of all, if it’s even going to ticks all of those boxes.”
Ready or Not is best described as a horror film. But how does it differ from the traditional genre or format?
MO: “I think it’s not as grotesque for the sake of shock value. There are certain kinds of gore in the movie and definitely a certain amount of blood in the movie but I think that it’s more a story technique … it works kind of accenting the comedy of the film itself. And I also think it has a really interesting socio-political message about breed and wealth and family dynamics.”
What was the on-set dynamic like, particularly when filming such a gory and dark film?
MO: “The dynamic was constant laughter and joking and there were few and far between serious moments off-camera. It’s a great pool of people who like having fun and doing their jobs and we all felt lucky to be there because that trickled down from the producers and the director.”
Are there any special effects secrets you can share?
MO: “It’s hard to give anything away, but the last scene of the movie is really very intense. It was filmed on the second day of shooting and that was the most props, the most special effects involved. It had everything and we shot that the second day [of] filming, which really broke the ice in every sense.”
Lastly, in a real-world setting, are there any lessons we can learn from the film? Other than to look extensively into your in-laws, ha.
MO: “In the movie there’s tradition but I think it goes to show that even though the stakes are really high for the family to continue this tradition, at the same time it’s funny because we live in a world where people are really holding onto traditions with a tight grasp and not willing to let them go, when times change. And times change and I think you need to move with the times, listen to the times and understand other view points. I thought about that after seeing the movie and before I watched it, I was like ‘oh it’s kind of funny hanging onto things that don’t really make sense anymore.’ ”
Read or Not is in Australian cinemas now.