Interview with Iain De Caestecker

(c) Alexandra Leese for SID Magazine

(c) Alexandra Leese for SID Magazine

Original interview by Liz Connor for SID Magazine issue 6 (SS2013):

“I’m attracted to darker things. I don’t think I’m a very dark person, but I like films that are original and divide people.” At just 26, Iain De Caestecker has already adopted a surplus of significant on-screen personas. Child soap-star. Irvine Welsh rogue. Marvel hero. Ryan Gosling protégé. To see him in one role is to capture a snapshot of the young Scottish actor never to be seen again. Far from flighty, his mutable guises are a favourable testament to his chimeric talent as an actor. He is meticulous about picking roles that appeal to him, and habitual exposure to a melting pot of different genres, styles and formats allows him to speak with a wealth of knowledge and judicious observation on all subjects, “it’s all about whether you identify with the character in the scripts, or whether it’s someone you really admire behind it and you’d just love the opportunity to work with them.”

The young Scott’s latest, and arguably most prolific, venture is the character of Bones in Ryan Gosling’s highly anticipated directorial debut Lost River. At the time of writing, the film is being premiered in Cannes, and gaining notable exposure in the press and media. “It’s strange because from the get-go I forgot that I knew him so well from his acting,” muses De Caestecker, on working with Gosling, “he felt like a director and he was a really good friend. He gave me so much inspiration through so many different avenues.” The much-coveted role came about, seemingly, rather quickly, “I’m still trying to get my head around why he gave me such a great opportunity” he laughs modestly. “I made a tape and sent a couple of things over to him. I didn’t hear back for a long time so I thought it had gone, but then I had a Skype chat with the casting director and she said I should come out to LA. After hanging out with him for a few days, he phoned and asked me to do it. At the time it was a big shock and really exciting.”

The plot centers around a family living in a bankrupt ghost-town in the American South, with Iain playing Christina Hendricks’ troubled son. “There’s loads of different concepts – it’s kind of like an urban fairy tale. That’s one way to describe it.” When asked if he found it strange to work alongside the film’s stellar A-list cast, he counters, “it’s funny, everyone’s so normal and down-to-earth. You forget about that stuff quite quickly.” Speaking to Iain, you get the palpable impression that fame isn’t a driving factor in his pursuit of acting. Despite the numerable successes he’s achieved at such a young age, his passions lie within discussing an innate affinity with the art form itself, rather than the cachet of working within the industry. Perhaps this is a product of yearning to be involved in performance during his formative years,  “it’s a scary thing to decide what you want to do” he ponders “but I’ve always known that this was what it was for me. Me and my brother loved films and would stay up late watching them all the time. We bought a video camera and we would make little movies, they were terrible but it became clear that it was something that we both wanted to do. He would direct them and I would be in them. It’s what we did all the time, in our spare time – it was our biggest hobby.”

It would be easy, at such an age, to be resolutely typified by a particular genre. But 2013 saw Iain maneuver between filming TV show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D alongside Brit rom-com Not Another Happy Ending, pressure-cooker horror In Fear and Scottish comedy-drama Filth. A rather hectic schedule for a bi-coastal actor, “we shot the pilot for S.H.I.E.L.D and then I went and did the film with Ryan - then I went back and filmed the rest of the season. With the show, we filmed an episode in eight days - so 22 in 9 months. There is a big uptake, but if I could have my pick of it I’d love to act every day.” This fundamental drive to actively pursue roles has been the linchpin to his success, made evident when asked who he cites as his idols. “If I had a list of people I wanted to work with, a lot of them would be people I’ve actually worked with before. Ryan Gosling, a director called Jeremy Lovering, Michael Kiellor. Those are the kinds of people that I’m very proud that I worked with and proud with the work they produced. I would love to be involved with their projects in the future.”

Iain’s acting inclinations, although the main topic of conversation, are certainly not the sum of his parts. Sitting before me is a very normal young man, full of humility and modesty. He jokes about the fact he doesn’t really get recognized in public, despite the plethora of S.H.E.I.L.D posters he’s walked past recently. He laments about missing the UK, particularly London which is his favourite city in the world, whilst he’s filming in LA. He rues “not being able to just pick up the phone and go out for lunch with family and friends” whilst he’s traveling. Steering off the topic of film, he also lets me in on the fact that he’s a huge animal lover. “If I hadn’t pursued acting, I’d have probably wanted to do something in animal rehabilitation”, he remarks as he cheerfully strokes the on-set cat who’s found her way into his lap during the interview.

With 2015 on the horizon, Iain already has the rest of the year booked-up with work. “We’re filming another season of S.H.I.E.L.D in July, which will run for 9 months, so while I’m doing that it’s very all-encompassing.” He talks about how fortunate he is to work alongside management that really understand the types of roles that interest him, and his interminable drive to challenge himself with even more interesting and diverse characters in the years to come. “I try not to think too far into the future though or it would do my head in. I just take it as it comes. At the same time, part of it is just luck. I constantly realize how lucky I am to be in this position.”