The Filth and the Fury: Paddy Considine Holds Nothing Back in 'Tyrannosaur'
Paddy Considine, whose 12-year career in film began with a bruising performance in Shane Meadows’ 1999 coming-of-age drama A Room for Romeo Brass, has spent enough time on movie sets to recognize promise.
And so he did with Tyrannosaur, his directorial feature debut about Joseph (Peter Mullan), a hard-drinking widower hopelessly consumed by uncontrolled rage. Considine, 37, is satisfied with the script he wrote in little more than a week, inspired by his award-winning 2007 short Dog Altogether. He loves the movie poster, brilliantly illustrated by Massachusetts screen print artist Dan McCarthy. But he had misgivings about the title.
“I told my wife I didn’t know if I should keep it,” says the Staffordshire, England, native, whose supporting roles in Cinderella Man (2005) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) represent his closest brushes with mainstream Hollywood. “This was before we started shooting. I figured, once this shit gets online, a lot of people are gonna ask if there are any dinosaurs in it, and that’s gonna be the running joke – ‘Where are the dinosaurs?’ But she convinced me to keep it.
“It’s a great title – if you see the film you’ll understand what it means. It’s the kind of movie that dares to do that. It’s just like the poster, which is quite ambiguous, but when you see the movie, you get it. It’s not like the usual shit that’s plastered all over cineplexes, with the latest fuckin’ six-pack with a pistol in his hand. I like it. I’m proud of it. That might not be enough for people who didn’t like Dog Day Afternoon ‘cause there weren’t enough dogs in it, but, you know, some people are stupid.”
Considine maintains he needs to “just do my thing” without worrying how it’s perceived by the masses, and that he’s not particularly concerned whether Tyrannosaur, now playing at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, meets with their approval.
Still, the movie, a surprisingly tender love story set in an unrelentingly violent world, has been widely hailed as a revelation, both for its uncompromising performances and the director’s obvious affection for his characters – who, to hear him tell it, wrote themselves.
“If you think too much about writing, it’s all over,” he says. “For me, it’s like a stream of consciousness – these people take you down paths to places you didn’t expect to go, and it’s really weird, like being possessed. ‘Oh god, I had no idea she was gonna do that!’ So after Dog Altogether, I sat down to write the next script and I realized I had to forget everything I learned the first time and just give in to the process.
“Because really, it’s not about what you learned. If you don’t put that out of your mind, you just end up writing some conventional bullshit like most people do, and I don’t want to write bullshit. Somebody commented negatively about Tyrannosaur and said the film’s great except for the coda at the end, and I’m going, ‘What’s a fucking coda? I’ve never heard of it.’ The difference between that person and me is that he knows filmspeak, and I write movies and make them for a living. The Sex Pistols didn’t go to rock ’n’ roll school. Why on earth would I go to fucking writing school?”
Although Considine appreciates Tyrannosaur most as a means of exorcising the fury and frustrations he’s known most of his life – a year ago, he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome – he didn’t always enjoy shooting it. He filmed a pivotal scene, in which Eddie Marsan’s abusive husband attacks Olivia Colman’s long-suffering wife, in just two takes, because he couldn’t bear to put his actors through the hell he’d envisioned one more time. (In retrospect, he says, they were less affected by the ugliness than he was.)
That hardly soured him on his maiden voyage as a director. While Considine has no specific plans to quit acting, he anticipates a time when he can move behind the camera permanently, to express himself in a way no small role in a bigger film could allow. (He admits there are movies he’s made for the paycheck, and though Bourne wasn’t one of them, he thinks any halfway decent actor could have played his part in that movie just as capably.)
But Tyrannosaur is his outlet, his voice booming from the screen. About the movie’s violence, and the emotional scars it leaves on his characters and the audience, Considine seems slightly conflicted. “My biggest fear in all of this is that I never wanted to use scenes just to shock,” he says. “I don’t want it to seem like I did.
“The point of this movie was to explore love, redemption and all the face judgments people make without knowing anything about anybody. I wanted to play with those perceptions. I wanted to examine the lives of people trapped in extreme situations, who become soul mates despite the class divide that would make it unlikely they’d even know each other in the first place. I seem to be attracted to those people.”
Tyrannosaur is now playing at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. For tickets and showtimes, click here.