Exclusive Interview: Hayley Squires Talks Blood Cells

hsquiresToday we welcome Hayley Squires to the site as the last but not least in a string of Blood Cells interviews. Hayley is an actor and playwright who is here to lend her thoughts on playing the primary supporting character in this new hard-hitting British road movie. Read on for our interview…

Could you initially describe the film for our readers?

In terms of the synopsis or how I see it?

Let’s start with the synopsis and then move on to how you see it…

OK so it’s about a man from an English and Irish traveller family and his journey across England to try and get home whilst dealing with his demons, alcoholism and his own mind in the tragic aftermath of the foot and mouth crisis.

And how about how you see the film?

It’s very much about their (Joseph Bull’s and Luke Seomore’s) examination of a man who is on the outskirts of England in the no man’s land which isn’t really known to many people. He’s somebody who has been affected by something and is now trying to get back into society I suppose.

The question which I have now asked the others (Joseph, Luke and actor Barry Ward) is ‘how political/personal a film do you think it is’?

I think personal but I don’t think it can be denied that it came out of something political. The foot and mouth crisis happened when I was a kid and I remember it being in the news; seeing the images and those jokes we had at school of not being able to go to McDonalds any more. So what the boys have done is something which I think is very clever and subtle; how Barry’s descent here comes out of a tragedy which affected people’s lives, their financial situation and their place within their society. It’s something which has now been a little bit forgotten. I suppose it is a personal thing but it’s born out of something… I don’t know if you would call it political, but it’s a problem which faced humanity.

Hayley Squires Blood CellsI’ve heard from the others that when you and Barry were brought in you really helped shape your characters through rehearsals, do you remember how you saw your character and what you went through to adapt to her?

Well because we met in 2012 for another project I’ve been in conversation with the boys for so long that they had sort of catered the role in Blood Cells for me a little bit. When me and Barry first met a couple of weeks before shooting we got together with the script and a couple of beers and talked through what the boys had given us. We were both very much on the same page as to the relationship between the two characters and how the relationship had come about. Then we went back to the boys and said there were a couple of things we had thought about, certain things in the script which we wanted to switch around or draw more out of in order to encompass what we had talked about

One of the things I have found quite interesting when talking to critics about the film is that some see your characters as being good together, others think it’s a negative relationship… do you have an opinion on that?

Yeah I think that the reason they come back together and the reason why he has longest with her out of everybody in the film is because they have a connection which is quite difficult to articulate. When they are on the bed together and he says that about stars and gives me the line about how long it takes for the light to come from the stars to Earth my response is ‘I missed you’. So I think there is an intellectual and emotional intimacy between them… in any other circumstances they would have been able to be together.

When Barry talked to me he said about how the supporting characters make Adam who he is and quoted Ken Loach saying that nobody exists within a vacuum. When you’re working on a supporting character do you want to be aware of that vacuum and how you feature in the grand scheme of things, or just focus on your character?

You’re there to create for the person who’s story it is I suppose… it’s a difficult line between just doing that and also getting something out of it for yourself as an actor. I think it’s about being very aware of what you’re doing and creating for yourself but also being aware that you’re serving a bigger purpose. Hopefully what you do in that role challenges and creates for whoever is leading the story.

Hayley Squires PortraitIs the process of learning a character in any way similar to writing a character? Is it inherently a different process?

Yeah completely (laughs)! It’s a funny thing, the reason I write is because I act. I wrote my first thing coming out of drama school. Writing is like building a house, you have a massive amount of responsibility. You do as an actor too, but as a writer it all begins with you. A character is something which lives in your head and interacts with the other people in your head until you can get it on the page, whereas acting is drawing from a blueprint which has already been given to you. For me it’s not as big a responsibility and there’s freedom in that. I feel more freedom when creating a character as an actor than when as a writer.

When you’re acting in Blood Cells you have to condense a life down into a few scenes, how do you boil a life down like that?

Well I suppose you start with the script. In this case the majority of which was made up of events rather than dialogue. Then it’s about getting a sense of why that’s happening to her at that time in her life. Me and the boys then talked a lot about who she was, what her background was and what influences I could look at and bring to the character.

And are there dream roles you would like to tackle in future?

No, well yeah probably 100’s! But the work which I have been doing over the last few years, especially last year and the beginning of this year have been a lot of supporting roles. That’s something which I really like actually; I like to go in do my bit and add my work into the mix and then go off. But I do look forward to the day when I’m leading a story myself. I’m looking forward to that challenge.

And that seems to be a pretty good place to draw things to a close. Unless you have anything you would like to add?

I was just going to say that working with the boys was quite different to working with anyone I have ever worked with before really. They managed to get together a group of people who wanted to know what you knew. It was a really intimate environment where we could watch playbacks and have real discussion about them. They would ask us how we thought it should be and that was just really nice to work with. They shared knowledge… and that was a real gift.

And that’s all folks! Before you go make sure you drop your thoughts in the box below!

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