Follow Us on Twitter

Kill List – MyAnna Buring interview

MyAnna Buring

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MYANNA Buring talks about some of the mental and emotional challenges of filming Ben Wheatley’s Kill List and some of the places it takes the audience.

She also talks about working on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and whether it’ll be more horror-like as it comes to a darker close.

Q. How did you get involved with Kill List?
MyAnna Buring: I have a memory of meeting Neil [Maskell] and Ben [Wheatley, director] at a coffee shop in Soho and we were talking about doing a short, where we played husband and wife. It’s a bit different to what Kill List ended up being. But that’s kind of how it started for me. We’d both worked with Ben on [the comedy] Wrong Door a few years back and out of the blue I got a call saying: “Would you like to meet up to talk about this short with Neil?” I hadn’t met Neil at that point but on the day we did first meet, we ended up meeting up three times because we realised that all our worlds were totally connected – we had so many friends in common [laughs]. The short didn’t happen, though, so I thought that was it and move on, but then I got another call from Ben saying that he wanted to shoot a teaser for Kill List specifically and that he’d written these parts for Neil and [Michael] Smiley and Emma [Fryer] and myself, which was amazing.

Q. So, he wrote the parts specifically for you and Neil then?
MyAnna Buring: Yeah. But I’ve been thinking about this lately and I don’t know why this didn’t [initially] cross my mind. I just thought: “My God, this is the most amazing part… what an honour, how great!” But lately I’ve been going: “Wow, that’s what Ben saw in me!” This really angry wife and mummy! Great Ben! But Ben can think what he likes of us because these are absolutely incredible parts to be able to play… real gifts. But the first day on set, in our first scene together, was the first scene of the film – a massive argument. And I just remember the crew just sort of being a bit silent after the first take and going: “Wow, you’ve got lungs on you!”

But we had spent time together, all of us, talking about who we thought these characters were, so we knew the characters intrinsically in and out. And then I remember having this feeling of when we came to the set… you’re always a bit nervous before a job, especially with something like this because you want to pitch it right. And I was really aware that I was working with great actors. But I had this sense that we just hit it as we meant to go on. It was always at 150%. I’ve said this before but this is one of those jobs where I earned my money on it. I mean, you came home after a day or night’s work and you were exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally you had just been on it all the time, which is the most satisfying way to work I think.

Q. How much of a scene like the dinner party is improvised and how much is on script?
MyAnna Buring: Sometimes it comes out of circumstance. Ben’s really good at using that and he allows you to use it. On a lot of jobs you sometimes just worry that you have to hit a mark or something, but with Ben that’s out of the window and you don’t have to think about that at all really. But [in the dinner party scene] I remember the meat had been cut up into little chops with those ridiculous little chef’s hats on but I think in one scene Neil had grabbed the whole rack and in the moment I thought: “That’s really annoying, he’s just taken the whole thing!” And Ben obviously clocked this and said let’s make sure we pick that up. Neil then make some comment about the crockery, so I think that’s probably the scene that I remember that I was involved in where the most improvised bits stayed in, although the essence and the sense that you get while improvising stays in with Ben, usually it’s quite on script.

Kill List

Q. Ben has talked about being influenced by his childhood nightmares, particularly in regards to the latter part of the movie. Did you bring any of your nightmares into your performances?
MyAnna Buring: I think it’s definitely… there are some really disturbing concepts to think about. I think that’s what’s great about the film: you can either enjoy – which is maybe the wrong word – but cinematically enjoy it as a great story, but also the concepts within are so layered. It’s really up to you how far you take them and how far you can indulge in considering them. So, for me the nightmarish stuff was… obviously, there’s that odd paradox where you have somebody who seemingly believes they’re incredibly normal but actually they’re indulging in illegal and hugely questionable acts, like running a hitman organisation. But then also, on top of that, bringing a child into that kind of scenario is quite a shocking thing to consider. And again, having a child in essentially a domestic hell, where two parents are constantly at each other.

That is a nightmarish thing, which I think a lot of people can relate to because at some point in your life your parents tend to argue. Hopefully, you never come into that situation where it’s as bad as it is in the Jay and Shel household! But there are just so many things that you can think about and you do think about… that’s the beauty of it. When it comes to your family, I think that’s a point where your reality changes – when you’re threatened, or when your child is threatened, suddenly I think you become willing to do things that otherwise you wouldn’t.

Q. How big a challenge was shooting the film given that it switches between three main genres: domestic drama, horror and almost a buddy comedy? How much do you have to keep on your toes for that?
MyAnna Buring: You don’t actually think about the genre changes. You play what you’re playing within the scene and you grapple with that. So, the genre thing is something that ends up on-screen. I don’t know that you ever play a genre. I think if you do, then I can imagine it’ll fall flat on its face. I think you play something that’s real and truthful and then it’s what happens around it that turns it into genre. That’s really the director’s role, which is one less thing to worry about.

Q. What was it like going from a film such as Kill List where you are so collaborative to something as big as Breaking Dawn, the final Twilight movies?
MyAnna Buring: It was great because it’s so different. That’s what made it amazing. I really mean this but I don’t think I would have enjoyed Twilight as much had I not done Kill List just before. I got the job while I was doing Kill List. But Kill List was just such a meaty part… as an actor you were stretched on every level, so I felt quite fulfilled in that way. So, to go on to Breaking Dawn, which was incredible in terms of scale and scope and being part of a franchise that I’m actually quite a fan of really – and proud of it – was great. Nevertheless, by no means was it as meaty a part. It’s a very different kind of acting in the sense that you’re kind of serving another story and you’re not right in the centre of it. So, to answer your question it was great and I’m very glad to have done both of them. As an actor, to be able to mix it up like that is the dream. It’s incredible and I felt very lucky.

Q. Will Breaking Dawn still play as a 12A certificate? Or will it be more of a horror, like the novel?
MyAnna Buring: I don’t know. I hope… Bill Condon was talking about it becoming a darker story and I completely know what he means. There are horror elements to it. So, partly as a fan I hope so, but we’ll see. But then again, it’s good to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. But either way, I’m quite excited to see what Bill Condon makes of it. He’s just a beautiful storyteller, so it should be fun.

Read our review of Kill List

Read our interview with Ben Wheatley