Streaming services are changing the way we consume media. From YouTube to Netflix, they bring to the table new and unique ideas that were never possible in standard network television. One studio who’s also working to pave new ground in this arena is Amazon.
One such unique series they’ve just brought to their streaming series is Lore. Based on the incredibly popular podcast of the same name from Aaron Mahnke, Lore retells horrifying and true stories. In this new series, it essentially accomplishes the same task, but with the added benefit of the visual medium.
LRM recently had a chance to chat on the phone with actor Richie Stephens, who plays the role of Jack Dunne in Episode 3 (“Black Stockings”) of Lore. In our conversations, we discuss his career as an actor, his experience with Amazon Studios, and what Lore brings to the table as a unique series.
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. Obviously you’re an actor, you’ve been in many shows and things like Criminal Minds and Blue Bloods and things like that, and tell us how you got started in acting.
Richie Stephens: Well I did a little bit back in Ireland when I was a kid, ages maybe 10 to 13 and went to school for it back home, did lots of theater, and competitions and that kind of thing. I was up for a big Irish movie when I was about 13 and had an audition for it and the casting director told me I was going to get it and I was like “Great,” you know, and she never called in the end. I then realized that you’ve got to go to a lot of auditions before you book something. But I kind of thought I wasn’t supposed to be an actor then, so I quit for years and I came to America, and worked construction for a little while. I broke my back, and that was the end of that career. I didn’t a little bit of modeling. A director saw my picture on a modeling website ,and he asked me to be in a short film for him and I did that and I loved it, and was like okay, now I want to try some acting. I went to a bunch of different schools and classes. I booked a lot of jobs. That was just about 4 and a half years ago and the run has been keeping on going.
So the latest show that we’re talking about today is Lore which is an Amazon Studios production. Tell us about how that came about.
Stephens: I auditioned for it back in, I think it was April, May. They were looking for some real Irish people because my particular episode is set in Ireland in the 1890s. They wanted some Irish actors, and basically they gave me like, they gave me three different roles, or three or four main roles to chose from and they said just pick whichever of those will be the best fit for you and just put it on tape. I think I had one day to do it, and it was really quick. I picked the younger one because I think one of them was like 50 or 60 or something. I picked 1 that was in his 20s. I put it on tape, I sent it off and they booked me, but they booked me for a different role. The role I actually played — originally the character was supposed to be 50 or 60, but they changed the age for me and made the character bigger.
That’s awesome. Tell us a little bit about Lore and about your episode in particular because I know Lore is based, for those that don’t know, is based on a podcast that kind of retells creepy historical historical events. Tell us about what your episode is about and the role that you play in it?
Stephens: My episode is called Black Stockings. It’s set in 1890s Ireland, and it’s a true story about the last woman who was burned as a witch basically, and Holland Roden is playing the girl. Her name is Bridget and her husband is played by Cathal Pendred the Irish UFC fighter, and my character is basically the village wise man. Cathal believes that Holland has been, he believes that she’s been changed with the fairy. So basically in old Irish folklore people believed that if somebody was behaving strangely the person might have been taken away and replaced with the fairy. They behave differently, kind of evil, you know. So he believes that his wife has been replaced by a fairy. The fairy would look exactly like her but be secretly evil and that would explain the strange behavior.
Stephens: But this particular episode, the underlying story is about male dominance at the time. So Bridget is an independent female who makes more money than her husband and she sells eggs. And she has a thriving business and making more money than him, and I think part of him believes that she really is a fairy, but it’s basically about how male dominance was asserted at the time, and possibly like a more devious aspect to it. It’s because she’s so independent and so successful and that’s part of why she’s victimized like this too.
Where did you guys shoot the show? You said it takes place in Ireland. Did you guys shoot in Ireland or somewhere else?
Stephens: No, we shot in Atlanta[, Georgia].
Okay, that makes sense.
Stephens: Yeah, and it was my first time over there in Atlanta. You know I shot in a lot of places around America, and I shot in Mexico, but you know, I was skeptical to see if it would look like Ireland, and I got there and I was like wow, it really does look like Ireland.
That’s cool. I would not have guessed. Because when I think of Ireland, I don’t necessarily think of the sort of humid you know, deep south look of Atlanta, Georgia. So that’s interesting to hear.
Stephens: It’s so green. I didn’t realize it’s really green.
Speaking of Ireland. You’re an Irish actor, and I know this is the first actual Irish role that you’ve had. Is that correct?
Stephens: Yeah, it’s true. I do a lot of accents. I can do pretty much any accent. I just have an ear for it. Most of the other roles I’ve played I’ve been American, British, or Russian, German. So yeah, it was cool to get my first Irish role because usually in Hollywood, the people they want for the Irish roles — they want people with like red hair, you know, typical picture book Irish type, and I don’t have the red hair (laughs).
So what was it like, I mean is it a lot different going in there not having to think about your accent at all?
Stephens: Well it’s something I kind of do automatically. Since I was a kid I’ve always liked mimicking different accents and say if I met somebody from a different place for some reason the way my head works, I’ll be listening to see how they say certain words. I’ll notice something like, “Oh, that person says ‘willage’ instead of ‘village,’” you know? Or that guy says car instead of “kawr.” So when I’m going for acting, I’m automatically doing the accent already so it was more freeing to do my Irish accent, but at the same time the Irish accent I’m using in the show i’s more of an old timey Irish accent. So it’s like, “Arr, Be garra,” kind of more strong. My accent is more neutral in real life, but I do sort of an old timey accent.
Stephens: Like, (putting on an accent) “In the name of the father and son and the Holy Ghost,” kind of a thing you know.
Right, so it’s not even fully natural at this point. It is basically kind of putting on an accent even if it’s kind of I guess a hyper version of your accent.
Stephens: Yeah, it’s a specific accent I did for the role.
You have a lot of experience in network TV, Amazon Studios is kind of a part of the new streaming television revolution, so to speak. Was it different working with Amazon as opposed to maybe your standard network TV, like with the way you filmed it, how much time you had, or anything like that?
Stephens: Yes. Most actors are grateful to get any work, but most actors really want to work for these kind of premium channels because these are the kind of shows that people really like to watch. Like the premium channels are what every actor hopes to be on, but the budgets are probably a lot tighter than network TV because there would be way bigger budgets because now. Network TV has commercials and that helps pay for everything too. So yeah, a lot of times it was shot really fast and we had a lot of late nights work on it too. Yeah, it was more equipped definitely and they spent a lot of the budget on, because it’s a period piece you’ve got to spend a lot of money on costumes and stuff like that. So yeah, it would have been way more tight and definitely the time constraint would be a lot stronger, you know. It was definitely more of a challenge.
What else can you tell us about Lore? How is it different from your average TV show?
Stephens: Well, because they’re all based on true stories, I guess everything has to be pretty factually accurate. Also, this one already has a built in audience because Lore is a really popular podcast. I think it’s has over one million listeners. So that’s a nice difference there as well because there’s going to be a bunch of people who are already a fan of Lore and are going to tune in to watch it. The other thing is a lot of times when you come to work on a show, there are people who are appearing in nearly every episode, so a lot of times when you come and visit a show you’re just a guest who’s there for maybe one episode and these people are like a family who are week in and week out. But the thing with Lore, because each episode is an anthology, each episode is a standalone story everybody is a guest on that episode. The director, the leads for episodes are guests. So you didn’t have an establishment already there except for the crew. A lot of the crew would have worked on all the episodes but the actors we’re all guests there. So everyone is coming together for the first time. So that was different.
What else do you have coming up in the near future?
Stephens: I about to go over to New Orleans pretty soon to shoot a horror movie. It’s called Rightful. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it and it’s written by a friend of mine, Stephen George. It’s kind of based on a true story but fantasy. I think about a 100 years ago, the true story was in Connecticut. There were these two African American farmers and they were framed for a crime they didn’t commit, and they got the electric chair and they were set up by their neighbors basically to steal their land. So in the story 100 years after the incident, the two brothers come back from the dead and start killing the descendants of the people who set them up.
Stephens: So, yeah (laughs), it will be fun. Andre [Alfa] is the director. I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to be playing like redneck sheriff, a sheriff’s deputy. So yeah, that should be fun. And I have a couple of writing projects that I’m working on too. I write too and I have written a TV series about a famous British mob boss. It’s a true story. His name is Patty Conroy. He’s from England, and I’ve been working on that for a few years. It’s a true story, you know, the guy was Britain’s most wanted man at one time. Yeah, it’s really interesting so. We’re hoping that it will go down well. It’s a one hour drama. we’re developing that at the moment as well.
Any last things you want to say about Lore before we close out?
Stephens: It was a great project to work on. We all had a lot of fun and yeah, I hope to work with a lot of those folks again. I’ve became really good friends with the only other Irishmen on it, Cathal Pendred, he’s the Irish fighter. He was on [Conor] McGregor’s team, and I think he’s moving to LA as well. So made friends out of it and hope the fans enjoy it as much as they enjoyed the podcast.
All six episodes of Lore are out on Amazon Prime now! Check them out HERE!