Follow Us on Twitter

Hush - Will Ash interview

Hush, William Ash

Interview by Rob Carnevale

WILL Ash makes his film debut in Mark Tonderai’s British horror thriller, Hush, playing a young man who sees a woman trapped in the back of a lorry while driving along the M1 at night with his girlfriend.

He talks to us about some of the pressures and challenges of filming, what he would do in a similar situation and why even the most arduous parts of the shoot didn’t take their toll as he was happy just to be in a movie.

Q. How does it feel to be headlining your first film?
Will Ash: Well, it’s just nice to be talking about it and remembering it again because we actually filmed it in August/September 2007. So, it’s over a year ago and it’s been fun remembering it. As for being the lead, it’s exciting because I’ve never really done anything like this before, so it feels very fresh and different. I have no expectation, it’s just nice to see something I’ve done on the big screen. My family is very excited as well. They can’t really believe it.

Q. What appealed to you about Hush?
Will Ash: Initially, when I read the script it was the dilemma that my character, Zakes, gets put in when he sees what he sees on the motorway, and the question of when do you start taking responsibility for something that’s got nothing to do with you. When should you then cross that line and help someone that needs your help? We now tend to negate responsibility for everything that doesn’t impact upon us – we walk on by. So, that drew me in initially.

Then, when I auditioned and met Mark [Tonderai, the director], I just found him to be really inspirational during the audition and I thought I would love to work with him because he was so open to ideas. I mean, this is his baby – he wrote and directed it – but he was open to us improvising some of our scenes, which was really refreshing.

Q. The film is a high intensity horror thriller, so was it similarly high-intensity to film? Was it physically demanding?
Will Ash: It was high intensity but I knew what was in store from reading the script, so I was prepared mentally for it. It wasn’t until after I’d finished the film that I thought: “Jesus, there was so much to do. Literally, every day I had to do something physically exertive!” But it didn’t bother me, in truth, because I was just happy to be there and to have a job. It’s like if you’re a plasterer and you have to do a ceiling that’s shit to get at, you just get on with it and do it [laughs].

Q. How was the scene where you’re nailed to the floor to film?
Will Ash: It was amazing, just because we were at that location and it was our last night and we only left ourselves about half an hour to film it! Now, when I see it, it looks so effective but it was really done on the rush. We were snatching shots where we could, and we couldn’t get the nails to look right, as if they were sticking out of my hands. So, it was pretty rewarding to see how authentic it looks now. We filmed the scene in one long take, so for me to do that whole scene really felt like I’d gone through that emotional journey.

Q. How much of yourself did you bring to the character of Zakes?
Will Ash: I think I can relate to his sense of disillusionment with his work and how he’s directionless because things aren’t going too well with his career. It’s not where he wants to be at this stage in his life. I think most actors can relate to not being where they want to be, or doing what they had hoped to be doing, at some stage in their career. So, I totally related to how he felt at the start of the film. But also, towards the end when he’s beginning to redeem himself. And I guess the bit of how he doesn’t want to get involved at the start once he sees the woman trapped in the back of the lorry, I was completely with him on that. I thought that was a very truthful reaction to have.

Q. Did you ponder what you might have done in a similar situation?
Will Ash: [Laughs] I’d do exactly what he did. I wouldn’t want anything to do with it! I’d have called the police and that would have been enough.

Q. Are you a fan of the horror genre in general?
Will Ash: It’s not something that I’d generally go and see, to be honest. But for me, this film wasn’t so much a horror… it was more of a thriller. That’s what attracted me to it. My character makes plausible decisions every single step of the way. It’s not the bog-standard horror thing where there’s an axe murderer lurking in a dark room. I know that’s part of the genre, but that doesn’t really tend to happen. With Hush, everything Zakes does is completely truthful. So, for me it is more of a thriller. As for horror films, I remember seeing Salem’s Lot as a kid and being absolutely terrified [laughs]. And The Shining is a horror, I suppose, and I love that. But it’s more about suspense and tension.

Q. Have you had chance to watch the film with an audience yet? And what’s the reaction been like?
Will Ash: I watched it at a horror film festival in Italy. I think they’re quite demonstrative anyway and were calling out and shouting out, and jumping in all the right places. So, that was really good. I have yet to have a screening in England, so in Italy I was just looking at how bad I was, as most actors do. So, next time I’ll be more intrigued to watch other people’s reactions. I’m taking my dad to a screening in Manchester tomorrow night, in fact.

Q. Has this started to open doors for you? Have you noticed whether your profile has been raised now that you’ve top-lined a movie? Or is it too early to tell?
Will Ash: Not as yet. I’ve got absolutely nothing coming up. Well, my Dad offered me a window cleaning round but that doesn’t really count, does it? I just want to work, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s TV, film or theatre, so long as the material is good I’ll be happy.

Read our review of Hush