Monday, 30th October 2017

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Billy Burke plays bad guy in 'Breaking In'

'I’m not big on a whole lot of extensive preparation'

By Ushnota Paul
  • Published 19.07.19, 10:15 PM
  • Updated 19.07.19, 10:15 PM
  • 3 mins read
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Billy Burke with Gabrielle Union in 'Breaking In' (A still from the movie)

Billy Burke, who played Bella Swan’s dad Charlie Swan in the famous Twilight series, plays Eddie, a menacing villain in last year’s release Breaking In.

The film, that stars Gabrielle Union as a mother who would stop at nothing to rescue her two children being held hostage at a house with impenetrable security, will have its Indian television premiere on July 21 at 1pm only on Sony PIX.

Ahead of the premiere, we caught up with Billy for a chat.

You play such a terrifying villain in Breaking In. How difficult was it to play such a dark character?

Sometimes you just have to approach a character simply and pragmatically when you know the breadth of the story isn’t going to get into exploring his inner reasoning or turmoil. In this case, the only component that I thought were going to have constant relevance were this guy’s unwavering conviction to what he wanted, his ability to adapt to circumstances that got in his way and his willingness to use any means necessary. Villain or hero, those are some pretty broad boundaries to play within.

How did you prepare for this role?

I’m not big on a whole lot of extensive preparation. Not only is there rarely much time for it between when the deal is made and when cameras start rolling, but I think it’s often more valuable to discover details along the way rather than preconceive some vision that will almost definitely end up morphing in the process.

How was Gabrielle Union as a co-star?

She was absolutely lovely. As gracious and dedicated as expected. There’s a reason she’s had such a lasting and admirable career.

James McTeigue has directed projects like V for Vendetta and Sense8. How was it being directed by him?

James has a nice and easy, soft spoken demeanour that made communication between us on set very comfortable. It’s paramount for a director to exhibit trust in the actors he or she is working with and he seemed to have a great natural ability to allow me to do what I do best, which is, make s*** up as I go.

Did you have questions for James about your character?

We had some conversations about a few elements. Mostly I just asked him to please give me a nudge if at any point this guy I was playing started slipping into any version of a (metaphorical) moustache twister.

What about the script? Did it appeal to you when you signed onto the film?

In large part, I was compelled by what James had done with V For Vendetta and of course the opportunity to work with Gabrielle. It had been quite a while since my last turn playing someone with pretty much zero redeemable qualities, so I thought that’d be fun too.

Did you do something different with your look, like grow a beard, to play a baddie?

Well, the beard was already there so I think we just landed on keeping it. Other than that, I thought this guy should look like he could possibly do anything for a living. If you saw him in a coffee shop, you should never know that he wouldn’t think twice about killing you if he needed to.

Was there action sequences that you needed to train for?

There was definitely some action, but nothing I didn’t have any prior experience handling. I kind of pride myself on not using a stuntman except in the most-extreme cases. I like doing all that stuff. It’s part of the fun.

Any interesting anecdotes from the set while shooting?

We shot the entire film at a winery in the hills of Malibu. I rented a tiny little place on the beach for the duration. I’d like to say what happens in Malibu stays in Malibu, but in my case what happened in Malibu was nothing. Sure, it’s pretty and all, but Malibu is f***ing sleepy as s***. Oh wait…you meant on set? Yeah, we had some fun on set, but the days of anecdote worthy debauchery on film sets are long gone, I’m afraid (laughs).

What sort of feedback have you got so far regarding the role?

At the risk of sounding like an a**hole, I really don’t pay a whole lot of attention to “what people are saying”. You do a thing and people are either going to enjoy it or not. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to let judgements start getting into your head, whether they’re good or bad.

You played Bella Swan’s dad Charlie Swan in the Twilight films. Do people still identify you with that character?

Not as much anymore. First of all, Charlie had a very specific aesthetic. Given what I look like these days, it would be hard for anyone to pick me out of a lineup as the same guy that played him.

In 2016, Lights Out was well-received. Did you enjoy working in that horror genre?

My actual time on that entire production amounted to about 14 hours, which is about what we averaged every single day on my last TV show. The job itself was over before I even noticed I was working. Yeah, I’ll take a gig like that any day.

Do you like watching horror flicks?

I actually do, although I tend to appreciate the more cerebral ones. Jump scares and computer generated “spooky” visuals don’t do much for me. The Exorcist and The Shining remain in my Top-Ten list of favourite all-time movies of any genre.