The truly scary thing is not the ghost itself, but the person trying to summon that ghost.
“The Quiet Ones” is a fictional movie based on the 1970s experiments of manifesting ghosts through human dark energy.
Latino-Review had an exclusive phone interview with Jared Harris, who played the sadistic Professor Joseph Coupland in the film. Sam Caflin and Olivia Cooke also star in the movie.
Here’s the synopsis:
Tucked away in an estate outside of London, Professor Coupland along with a team of university students conduct an “experiment” on Jane Harper, a young girl who harbors unspeakable secrets. What dark forces they uncover are more terrifying than any of them expected.
With Harris, we’ve discussed in details about his character and the research he made for the film. He also talked about his upcoming projects and revealed details about his character in the upcoming film “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
“The Quiet Ones” will be in theaters on April 25.
Read the transcript of the full interview below.
Latino-Review: what attracted you to this project?
Jared Harris: It’s a great script. I was taken by the journey of the story. Like all good movies, there’s a mystery at the heart of it, which is the vital ingredient. The part is such a juicy role. You get to play the audience through several different opinions and feelings about the character. At the end of the story, he’s humanized after having done some terrible things. It’s just a very, very juicy journey.
Latino-Review: Explain your character trying to be a scientist and a sadist at the same time.
Jared Harris: Right. There were a bunch of experiments that were conducted in the 1970s. One of them was the initial inspiration that was conducted in Canada. There were also several other ones. The idea was that as a scientist—he was obviously driven and obsessed to prove his point. He ultimately cared more about that than those people under his care.
I read biographies all the time. I studied and read up on the Oppenheimer story. The things that fascinated me were about the Manhattan experiment. There was a large group of scientists who thought theoretically speaking if they set off nuclear then there would be this chain reaction to rip the atmosphere off the Earth and kill all life on the planet. But, they still pushed the button. They wanted to see what’s going to happen. They weren’t sure what’s going to happen, but that was the possibility. It was that kind of curiosity in the end. [Laughter] It just appealed to me.
Latino-Review: So what was the point your main character was trying to make?
Jared Harris: Essentially, the premise was “What is the supernatural? Does it exist? And where does it come from?” He wanted to prove that the traditional explanation of it being divine or an otherworldly—there was another explanation for it. There were ghosts. There were demons. There was a God. People chose these explanations for it.
He wanted to prove that none of that is true. It was all a manifestation of the human psyche. In that sense, he would destroy their beliefs or undermine their beliefs in God. Of course, in his personal point of view, he had a vendetta on what occurred earlier in his life. He blamed his wife on her faith and reliance on religion for what happened to their kid.
Latino-Review: Oh, I see. So basically he didn’t really care for anybody else. He was essentially like the Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, right?
Jared Harris: There’s an aspect of that. He was somebody obsessed, right?
Latino-Review: Is his character that difficult to play? How did you mentally prepare for something like that especially with the torture scenes?
Jared Harris: They are very difficult, because you would feel really guilty. [Laughter] Even though it’s pretend and everyone’s acting to put somebody through that. You just feel guilty. You choose your own reactions to respond to and what not to respond to. There are parts that are difficult, obviously.
Latino-Review: So what was the most difficult scene in the movie for you?
Jared Harris: [Sighs] It was the scene where I had to burn Olivia [Cooke] with the candle. That was pretty unpleasant. There was a bunch of them that didn’t actually make it into the final cut. You were actually harming her either emotionally, physically or psychologically. You would understand at that point on where the audience is exactly going to be on how they’re feeling about your character. And it’s important that they feel that. At the end of the day, it’s all acting.
Latino-Review: Did you guys have fun on the set at least?
Jared Harris: We had great fun! You have to put yourself in such a heightened state when you do these things. After you do those scenes, when the director yells cut—there’s a sense of relief. Everybody started to laugh and the kids would break into song. [Laughs] It was fantastic.
Latino-Review: Did you try to bring in more outside research to develop your character?
Jared Harris: One of the things we’ve did when I came on board was changed the approach that my character had. It took more of a psychological approach in terms on how to activate Olivia’s character, Jane Harper to get it to start manifesting.
Research is important. Research is useful. The purpose of research is to excite you in imagination. At the end of the day, it’s an imaginative exercise. When you’re playing something in a fictional or biographical movie, it has to be an imaginative exercise. If it isn’t, then it won’t work.
Latino-Review: Are you a fan of horror? I understand you’ve done some before and you’re in the upcoming “Poltergeist” movie.
Jared Harris: That’s right. I enjoy a good horror movie. When you think about the term horror, it’s pretty broad. “Jaws” is a horror movie which I loved. There’s a great tradition of horror films that I’ve really, really enjoyed. I’m not a fan of torture porn. I enjoy a mystery. I enjoy a psychological horror movie. It’s a really good genre. It’s very visceral on what the audience gets out of it.
Latino-Review: I’ll wrap this up with one more question. Could you talk about any future projects you may have? And would you like to return back to the “Sherlock Holmes” and “Mortal Instrument” franchises?
Jared Harris: So I have a movie called “The Boxtrolls” coming out. I have a “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” which is coming out next year. And obviously “Poltergeist.”
I really enjoyed being on “Sherlock Holmes.” I have no idea what their plans are. I think they are doing another movie. I have no idea on whether my character would be involved or not. And for “Mortal Instruments,” I have no idea what their plans are for that.
Latino-Review: And just real quick, who are you playing in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?”
Jared Harris: I play a CIA agent who is initially involved in training and running Napoleon Solo. So it’s running him as a spy as you would like. It’s set in the 60s and it’s a Guy Ritchie film. It has a great mixture of action and comedy. And there’s fantastic plotting.
Latino-Review: Thanks very much. And congrats on the movie.
Jared Harris: Thank you.