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Alex Reid Interview

British actress Alex Reid stars in Jetsam, a film that begins with her washing up on a beach with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She also starred in the horror film The Descent and has made appearances in the TV programmes Life on Mars and Casualty. Here she chats with View London’s Matthew Turner about playing someone with amnesia, working on top of a cliff and her latest film.

What's Jetsam about and who do you play?
Alex Reid (AR): I play someone called Grace. Basically, it's kind of ambiguous what the film's about. It's kind of about obsession and feeling lost or isolated. It's more of a theme, like that, because basically the film starts in the middle of the story and then goes back again. But I'm kind of tracking a couple because they've stolen something. I have to be careful what I say, but basically they've stolen something and it's a matter of security that I need to get back, but somewhere I kind of get lost and entangled within their relationship and become slightly obsessed with their relationship.

What attracted you to the film and how did you get involved?
AR: I got involved because I met [writer-director Simon Welsford] about another project, which never came to fruition and he approached me at around Christmas time and said he wanted to make a feature film the following year and that he was going to shoot it in 14 days and would I be interested, because he wanted the central character to be female. So I said yes and he went away and wrote the script and as soon as I read it – I thought it was original and also he's so passionate about what he does and I thought it was such a challenge. And it was lovely for me too, because he let me be involved with the casting, so we went to actors that I knew.

Is that how [The Descent co-star] Shauna MacDonald got involved then?
AR: Yes and Jamie Draven and Cal Macaninch. So we all got thrown together for two weeks.

Was it difficult to play someone with either no memory or an unreliable memory? Did you do any research?
AR: We shot chronologically as much as we could and at the time it wasn't that difficult – it was more about having the trust in Simon to always pull me in or keep me on track, but I think probably because of the way in which we shot it and the timescale in which we shot it, everything was so immediate and I think that actually helped that. Although, every now and again I'd be like, 'I've no idea where I am. Help!'

Do you end up taking characters home with you and find them hard to get rid of afterwards?
AR: Yeah, I think it's a little bit both ways. I think that, as well, there's always a little bit of you within the character, you know, obviously the characters look like you, to a degree, unless you're doing something completely off the wall. But yes, as far as taking them home with you, because you're doing that every day, it probably brings out that side of you more and so, for instance, Grace was very isolated, so yeah, I didn't – I wasn't on the phone a lot, I didn't watch TV or whatever. You do find yourself sat within that mood and I think you take that home with you.

What was the hardest scene to film?
AR: Probably anything to do with the elements, when we were outside. I think there's a scene where [Jamie Draven's character] and I have a face-off and it was at the top of a cliff and the wind was blowing, so technically, things like that and making it heard and getting the depth right. But we were really lucky with the elements on some occasions. We had a flash of lightning that you'd probably pay thousands of pounds for in special effects. I don't know how that happened.

I read a review that said that it was almost as if the weather itself was directed.
AR: We were very lucky. And also the way [cinematographer] Zac Nicholson shot it, it was so beautiful. I couldn't believe it when I first saw it.

How does Simon compare to other directors you've worked with?
AR: I've been very lucky, I think. I always like working with writer-directors. I think it makes a difference, because it's their story and so it's their whole vision and you've got them on hand, whereas if the writer's not there and you want to talk about the script or the character in depth and maybe the director has their own ideas and so on. But I think I've been lucky to do that.

And also, smaller budget things are probably my favourite thing to work on for that reason, although obviously I'd like to get paid more! But Simon was great for a first-time director. He had a clear vision of what he wanted and he worked very closely with Zac – it wasn't the first time they'd worked together. So between the two of them, for a fourteen day shoot, there was very little stress, everything was dealt with, he's very approachable and there's nothing intimidating about him at all. It was a really, really lovely experience and I'd work with him again in an instant.

VL: Do you have a favourite scene in the film?
AR: I don't think I do. What I really love about watching it – and, weirdly enough, when you're shooting guerilla-style like that, through London - is when you're watching stuff on the tube or at, say Liverpool Street station – because you're not supposed to do that, but, anyway, we did – and all the street scenes, we were in Paddington and it just looks really real. Because no matter how many extras and things you have in the background, you never get it looking like that.

And so whenever I see anything like that, I think there's a point of following through Liverpool Street station, where it's just like, 'Yeah, that's great.' And also I remember being in a phone box in Paddington with Adam up in Burger King and we're just all trying to co-ordinate via mobile phones - 'Right, go! Now! Now!' – and it was, you know, looking back at the time, it was fun. So to see those scenes, I think, were maybe my favourites. It was like a big spy game.

What's your next project?
AR: I've done a film called One Hundred Mornings and I'm briefly in The Descent 2, which is the closing night film at FrightFest and I'm also currently shooting a drama for E4 called Misfits, which is a lot of fun. And with The Descent 2, it's just video-camera footage that they find, but we shot with Neil [Marshall]. He came in specially for the day and did all the video-camera footage, which was really nice.

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Content updated: 21/11/2018 03:27

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