Undoubtedly, the heart and soul of The Revenant are best friends Bart (David Anders) and Joey (Chris Wylde) but as the saying goes, for every good man there’s an equally good woman (or two in this instance) behind them. Balancing out the testosterone on the set of the film were actresses Jacy Gross and Louise Griffiths.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Gross, who plays level headed Wiccan Mathilda in the film who also serves as the film’s voice of reason, to talk about her experiences on the film and discuss the challenges of working in independent cinema.
Gross had a hunch from the start that collaborating with writer/director Kerry Prior would be unlike anything she had experienced ever in her career.
“The producers for The Revenant (review here) really had their choice when it came to actresses for my part so I felt pretty lucky that I landed the role,” explained Gross. “It was my first experience as an actress where I grabbed a role while I was still in the audition. It was amazing- Kerry was so collaborative, even while auditioning.”
“I thought this was going to be one of those cases where I go in and in 10 minutes I’m done but I ended up being in there for over an hour and a half. Kerry just kept challenging me with different approaches to the script which is why I knew I wanted to be a part of this movie from the moment I stepped on the stage to read for him,” Gross added.
In yesterday’s interview with Wylde, he discussed the amount of bonding that happened between him and fellow cast member Anders. For Gross though, her experiences were a little different while working on The Revenant but the actress said that the difference made perfect sense to her. “The girls didn’t really get the same treatment as the boys did just because the movie was far more about them than it was our characters so my first real bonding experience with everyone didn’t come until we did a read-through right before we started shooting. I just remember we started early in the morning and we were at this sleazy dive of a bar drinking bloody mary’s which I think was the perfect atmosphere, considering the tone of The Revenant.”
“Watching David and Chris go back and forth was hilarious though- Louise and I could barely get a word in edgewise but that was perfect for the kind of roles we were playing. Specifically, my character is more about reacting to Bart and Joey so it made sense they’d even take over the read-through. But I absolutely loved the energy both of those guys brought to The Revenant- they really are the heart of this movie,” added Gross.
In the film, friends Bart and Joey have to deal with the fact that Bart has returned from the grave as a revenant and even though the script is filled with many darkly humorous moments, it was Gross’s character Mathilda that had to try and reason with the insanity of the movie’s main duo.
Gross said, “I saw her as the kind of character that takes herself very seriously and she is ultimately right by the end of The Revenant, even if being right is a bit bittersweet. She knows that Bart being back isn’t natural and she’s trying to help, but she just does it in ways that don’t necessarily help with a situation like that. Her motives were pure but she just had a funny way of carrying out those motives that just made a bad situation ultimately a lot worse in the end.”
Even though other actors had difficulties with the rigors of such an ambitious shoot, Gross said she felt like the insane shooting schedule they were on for The Revenant only enhanced the vibe of the movie. “It’s so hard keeping the kind of hours we did on this shoot but I was luckier than most because I didn’t work as many days as David or Chris. I would definitely say they had it a lot worse than I did. I think though considering the tone of the movie that it was absolutely perfect we’d shoot at these ridiculous hours though because you get such a different vibe at that time of the night. There’s a weird electricity that runs through Hollywood in the middle of night and I feel like audiences can sense that vibe when they’re watching the movie.”
“I think it’s safe to say that challenges aside, we all had fun on set even though we were pushed to our limits every single day. Kerry’s script was so well-written that I never really felt like I was working at all when I was delivering his lines. It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my career so far,” Gross added.
For Gross, who has balanced her career filled with studio and independent projects alike, the hardships that have presented themselves while making The Revenant and the long journey that has followed wasn’t much of a surprise to her. She said the obstacles will only make The Revenant’s eventual release all the more sweeter.
“I love the challenge of independent filmmaking but it can also be a very hard path for an actress to follow,” explained Gross. “I’ve worked on a few films that have never screened even once so it’s wonderful that The Revenant has had legs over the last few years playing festivals everywhere even if we haven’t been able to officially release the film yet.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of great responses to the film too over the last few years which is a testament to Kerry. He’s been so dedicated to this movie since day one, he deserves every compliment this movie gets. It can be hard waiting this long to find out what is going to happen with The Revenant but it’s beginning to sound like something will be happening soon and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the news will be,” added Gross.
For more check out the official The Revenant website!
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