Ray Stevenson ('Jayne Mansfield's Car')
'The Spirit Still Remains'
Ray Stevenson first entered into the Hollywood mix as a Medieval warrior in 'King Arthur' (2004). He then went on to star in HBO’s gladiator series 'Rome' (2005-2007), before undertaking the role of Frank Castle, in 2008’s uber-violent 'Punisher: War Zone.'
In 2010, Ray was seen in both the post-apocalyptic 'Book of Eli' and the action comedy 'The Other Guys,' opposite Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. 2011 was a busy year also as he went on to star in Paul W.S. Anderson’s 'The Three Musketeers,' in 'Thor,' and in the real life story of Danny Greene in 'Kill the Irishman.'
And in 2012 he moved back into TV and took on the role of the bad guy in 'Dexter.' And then here in 2013 he reprised his roles as Firefly in 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' and Volstagg in 'Thor: The Dark World,' and also filmed roles in 'Divirgent' and the new Billy Bob Thornton-directed 'Jayne Mansfield's Car.'
Exclusive Magazine recently sat down with our good friend Ray Stevenson and asked him all about his latest movie to hit the big screen, 'Jayne Mansfield's Car.' Indeed, I first wondered, being that this new movie was directed by actor Billy Bob Thornton, throughout his career had he ever been directed by such a big Hollywood actor before? "I've had the great pleasure of working with some pretty fine directors during my so far, albeit brief, movie career. Paul Greengrass, Kenneth Branagh, Allen Hughes, to name a few."
"But Billy Bob Thornton stands alone in being a current movie star and director. Indeed he also co-wrote the movie. A real passion piece.
The one great stand-out factor here was that he defies almost every stereotype of what most people assume or expect from a man of his position. I found him to be a true polyglot, passionately involved and a man who brings a humility born through experience and a love of the craft."
And is there a notable difference to their directing style being an actor over just being a director, perhaps? "Every single director I've worked with brings their own unique individual style and personality. This particular movie benefits from the insight and private experiences of the director."
"Also it is a huge ensemble piece that truly reflects the directors vision. I cannot imagine any other director handling this movie. Billy Bob's work with the actors demonstrated a compassion and love for actors and our craft."
The story is about the clash between a Southern family and a British one when the woman who united them dies. You play Phillip Bedford, a member of the latter alongside John Hurt and Frances O'Connor. I've always admired John Hurt, so I was wondering if you learnt anything from working alongside him on this film? "It is almost impossible to put into words the profound joy I felt working alongside John Hurt. Getting to know him socially off set will always be one of my best experiences."
"Only surpassed by sharing screen time and working with him. He is literally a living legend. He made everyone feel at ease and elevated those around him."
Oh, and in-between takes did you two chat about his role as "The Doctor" in the upcoming season of Dr. Who, perhaps?! "No mention of 'The Doctor' took place. Outside of filming John (Hurt) exuded a lust for life and undiminished playfulness that was infectious. To put it simply, I couldn't wait to spend time in his company. He is a real 'Actors Actor'."
Billy plays the head of the Southern family, one which includes Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick and the great Robert Duvall. Man, you must have been pinching yourself awake every day you were on set? "There were many 'stand out moments' during filming. With this cast, its almost impossible to single anything out. However, my moments with Robert Duvall still ring in my heart."
What was one of the stand-out moments from the set that you still recall today as being your fondest memory of filming 'Jayne Mansfield's Car'? "It may sound a bit trite but after shooting a scene and glancing over to the monitors, just getting a simple nod from Billy Bob meant the world."
The story itself isn't based on real life - but set in 1969 as thousands of young men are being sent off to yet another war in Vietnam, it most certainly could have been for someone somewhere. Was there anything from your time spent filming in that era that made you sadly contemplate the harshness of war in an era gone-by? "My father was a Royal Air Force pilot and my early memories are of military bases. There is always a sense of being surrounded by lives and friendships directly affected by conflicts past and present. There are echoes and resonances that Billy Bob brought to this movie which expose the real cost and damages done to those who were involved and those indirectly affected."
Lastly, knowing that the title of the film is somewhat left of center towards the mainstay telling of the plot, what can you tell us about said lady's vehicle with regard its role in the film? "Before the accident the image of Jane Mansfield and the car itself was an archetypal symbol of America's aspirational post war culture. Everything they were fighting for and what they could offer to the world. However, after the horrific crash, this was to become a travelling Freak show which provided a macabre intimacy a nickel at a time."
"Such is the parallel crash of two families trying to maintain position and dignity whilst their deepest wounds are exposed. The damages inflicted providing the side-show entertainment."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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