Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House star on ghosts, that one-shot episode, and a possible second season.
Jumper JOSEPH, jeans LEVIS SILVERTAB
Jumper JOSEPH, jeans LEVIS SILVERTAB
Recently, you might have noticed a spate of hilarious reaction videos circulating the internet. It starts with people frowning at their television sets, often with nail-biting intensity. And every single one ends the same: leaping out seats, jolting in fright, or shock-screams with hands covering eyes.
Comic internet fodder aside, there’s no denying that The Haunting of Hill House mania has swept the land, and in its wake, a trail of terrified viewers urging others to press play on the Netflix supernatural series – and to viral effect.
A reimagining of the 1959 Shirley Jackson gothic novel of the same name, the series centres around a group siblings who, now grown up, have to deal with the memories and consequences of a traumatising childhood in their haunted family home.
So ghosts, and lots of them.
And at the centre of it all is British actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen who plays Luke, one of the twins in the Crain family. We chatted to him about ghosts, that one-take episode, and whether we’re in for another series…
(LEFT) Cardigan E.TAUTZ
(RIGHT) Shirt QASIMI
Tell us about your character in the Haunting of Hill House.
I play Luke Crain, who is the youngest of five siblings in the Crain family. He has a twin called Nell. The show focuses on how their experiences as children living in Hill House have dramatically affected them as adults. The twins are the most affected by what happened during their time at the house and are struggling the most to lead functioning lives. Luke, as a result of the trauma he experienced, is suffering from PTSD and has developed an opioid addiction in order to cope.
Your previous roles include Emerald City and Dracula – are you drawn to darker/supernatural roles?
I don’t know if it’s specifically the supernatural that has drawn me to these roles. It’s been more about the characters themselves. With Luke, I just thought that the writing about the after-effects of childhood trauma was so honest and truthful, and so I really wanted to be a part of telling his story. Mike [Flanagan, the show’s creator] has been very clever in how he uses the house as a metaphor for so many things in life. He has written a show about loneliness, grief and trauma in such a truthful way. I’d never read anything quite like it.
As well as the horror element, your character deals with drug addiction and traumatising experiences – was this challenging?
I think we all found it quite painful as actors. The show is only set over the course of a couple of days, with the death of my twin bringing the family back together. We shot for nine months and I think that drumming up all that pain and terror for that length of time made us all feel very raw. I remember waking up one morning and calling someone back home and just saying, “I’m not okay”. I think when you’re tinkering around with your mind that much, and having to believe something that isn’t true for that length of time, it’s hard to tease apart what’s real and what’s not. You’re left with an emotional hangover in a way, when you’re digging into things that should be left alone!
Jacket BERTHOLD, hoodie & shirt QASIMI, trousers JOSEPH
What was the most challenging scene to film?
I think the whole of episode six was the hardest as it’s all shot in a single take. We rehearsed it like a play and the whole set was rigged with microphones and lights that came in and out. There were so many complex elements to it and every single one of them had to be right otherwise the take was unusable. It was hands down the most challenging thing I’ve ever shot. For the crew too as there was no room for mistakes. But it’s probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve shot.
Why was it so challenging?
I think most of Luke’s storyline was challenging. As I said before, you’re drumming up stuff that probably shouldn’t be drummed up and I distinctly remember during the course of night shoots for the Luke episode, feeling extremely vulnerable. There’s a scene in episode five, where Luke asks his twin sister to buy him drugs and it’s a very painful scene. When we finished shooting it, I got out the car and stood in the street and just burst into tears. It was so embarrassing, and the poor assistant director just didn’t know what to do!
Do you believe ghosts?
I don’t know if I believe in them in the way that they are portrayed in movies, but I do think that there’s something that we as humans don’t understand or see.
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Shirt QASIMI, jumper JOSEPH
Did you expect the series to be as successful as it was?
I think when you sign on to any project you do so because you believe that there’s something great about it. A lot of the time, throughout filming or in the edit, the project morphs into something different so you get used to just not knowing what to expect when the film or show is finalised. The response has been quite overwhelming for all of us I think. I’m just so glad that people really like it. It’s nice when you’ve busted yourballs to have people appreciate the final product!
Why do you think it’s been so successful?
With Hill House, I think all of us thought it was a really interesting take on grief and a completely original take on the genre, pushing the boundaries of what you can do with horror, but again, it’s really to tell if an audience is going to feel that way too. You may like something butan audience may be unresponsive, so it quite a hard thing to guage.
But the show has exploded which is really amazing. I’m so glad that it’s resonating with so many people around the world. It seems to have really hit a nerve with people in a positive way, which is such a wonderful thing. Again, Mike deserves a lot of credit because he wrote a show that is pushing the boundaries of what you can do with horror.
Will there be a season 2? Are you in it?
I’ve been asked this a lot and Netflix have hired snipers to sit outside our houses to shoot us if we say anything! We shall see!