Pollyanna McIntosh is in town for the Jameson Dublin International Film FestivalFounded in 2003, the Dublin International Film Festival sets the agenda of the year with its programme of outstanding Irish and international film. More to promote her new film, Love Eternal, directed by Irishman Brendan Muldowney. It is based on a Japanese Novel by Kei Oishi – the direct translation of its title being, In Love With the Dead – that tells the story of Ian Harding a man attempting to make sense of the world and find his place within it all. McIntosh’s role in the movie is that of Naomi, a young woman who has dealt with incomprehensible loss and whom Ian identifies with in his search for answers.
I begin by asking what drew her toward the role of Naomi and she describes how director Brendan Muldowney “being from a Catholic background, was really interested in the idea that if you don’t have a faith in the world then how do you find comfort in being this tiny little part of this massive, incomprehensible universe and I think that’s a big theme.” She added just how much she was interested as she felt it was something she “can relate to and that a lot of people can relate to.” It is undoubtedly a place that many people of Catholic, and other faiths, find themselves in; particularly in a modern world that questions more than ever our devotion to deities and associated religion. She continues by highlighting how she does “try to have a positive outlook and, you know, try and reconcile that feeling because I don’t have faith in God either. So that’s very much Naomi’s character and that was a great hook for me.”
In addition she tells me “when you have a faith, you can make sense of everything and that’s what faith is for, right? To have comfort and understanding. If you don’t have a faith you’re left in this place of, where do I fit in, what happens after I die, and what’s the point of life.” She rounds it off with a statement that I believe we can all identify with; “For me I find great comfort in the fact that I’m just a tiny, wee little blip, in a giant universe because it means that I’m part of something magical, incomprehensible, mysterious, wonderful and that’s the theme of the film.”
Given the character’s interest in death and suicide I wondered how hard it was to prepare for a role like this and the affect it had on her, but she is quick to highlight that she is “not an actor that finds it hard to break out of the character when the film is done.” She does say that “during the filming and during preparation for a role like this, yeah, it’s dark and lonely and sad and it has to be. Because if I don’t have the feeling, if I can’t access the feeling of the fact that I have a five year old son that is dead; then I’m not going to be able to do a convincing job. Even now just thinking about it I get a lump in my throat.”
The ability to break away from the character on completion of filming is a blessing for McIntosh, but how wonderful is it that sitting here so serene she can go to that place within her and feel that emotion once again. I was stunned.
Having gathered myself I moved on and asked how she found working with Irish director Brendan Muldowney. She starts off by telling me that “he’s a kind and gentle soul despite his dark material” and that “he’s quite quiet and he is somebody that you can trust.” She says that “he is one of those directors who let’s you go with your instincts” and describes how he doesn’t micromanage his actors, that “he trusts his actors instincts, but he will absolutely let you know if you’re going in the wrong direction and that’s the ideal circumstance to be working in.” She adds that what she likes in a director is “somebody who trusts their actors, enjoys what their actors are doing, but isn’t afraid to say knock that off and go a bit more in this direction.”
McIntosh’s profile has been growing in the last few years with a lead role in The Woman as well as support roles in Filth, with James McAvoy; Bob Servant Independent, with Brian Cox and now Love Eternal. Mixing TV and cinema means working in varying environments and she tells me that “as an audience member I prefer film because it is a total story, whereas with TV it just goes on and on and on and I prefer that satisfaction of getting the whole piece, the whole story.” She does add that “it’s great fun to do TV especially to do comedy” and that “it’s also great to work in TV because it has to be so fast and the script can change ten minutes before you shoot a scene.” She tells me that her ideal situation for TV “is coming into something that is new, because a lot of TV shows have been running for a while so you have to fit into the style and the vibe and what’s already there, whereas film can be a bit more free as an art form.”
With her profile on the rise I ask if she has any upcoming projects and she informs me that she is “writing a dark comedy that should be made next year and that’s a very exciting project” with a smile that says it’s something to look forward to. On that note we wrap it up with the parting words “you’ll be seeing more of me.” I certainly hope so.
Love Eternal is showing as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival at 2030 in Cineworld on the 18th February 2014.