I had the absolute pleasure to sit down in a Montreal hotel restaurant with Jeremy Holm and Chloë Levine who are starring in a film called The Ranger. It is directed by Jenn Wexler and made its Canadian premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival. Instead of me reviewing the film I have decided to let the actors themselves speak about it which works out much better. Hear what they have to say and then go get your camping gear out for a trip to the woods.
Ron : Welcome to Montreal. So tell us what is this film The Ranger?
Jeremy : The Ranger is a really interesting idea that Giaco Furino and Jenn Wexler came upon about what would happen if punks came into conflict with a park ranger. Unbelievably it’s not been done before in the horror genre. When Jenn was ready to make a film she called up her friend Giaco and asked “Hey where’s that script you were working on?” He dug it up and they polished it. Giaco and I had worked together before. He called me up and said “I’m working on this script and I keep thinking of your face”. I told him to send it over. He did. I read it and said “I’m in.” I didn’t hear from him for almost two years.
Then they (Jenn and Giaco) came here to the Fantasia film festival in the Frontiers section of it. They did a really cool look book and met some people who were willing to fund it and we made the movie. So it’s about punks and park rangers.
Ron : It seems very original.
Jeremy : It does, doesn’t it? I mean doesn’t it seem like it would be obvious?
Ron : Well kids like to party in the woods, drinking, making noise, etc.
Jeremy : Exactly. Park rangers don’t like it. They want to keep everything safe.
Ron : So who are you playing in this film?
Jeremy : I’m playing the park ranger. I think he’s a good man who’s trying to do the best he can. He’s a little disconnected from the real world. He’s maybe a little bit obsessive about the rules. I think he has a big heart and a big sense of humour.
Ron : Chloë, what about yourself? Who are you playing in this film and what’s your relation to the ranger?
Chloë : I play Chelsea who is one of the punks. Well we discover in the first few minutes of the film that Chelsea and the ranger have some kind of a connection from when Chelsea was little, and you’re not really sure what is. I’m not giving anything away but when the punks have to flee the city for whatever reason they go to Chelsea’s cabin in the woods and that’s when we encounter the ranger and stuff goes down (giggling).
Ron : So what kind of film would you say this is?
Jeremy : I think it wants to be something you can’t put a tag on. Yes, it’s a horror. Yes, it’s a psychological thriller. One of the interesting things for me pursuing the film as an actor is that the characters are multi dimensional and they do have a want that is deep and drives them, bigger than getting away from a killer. It’s fascinating to play that.
Ron : Is there any kind of ‘hunter becomes the hunted’?
Chloë : It’s funny that you say that actually. It’s a pretty big theme in the movie.
Ron : What’s happening with this film now days?
Jeremy : When you’re an actor and you do a film you have no idea what’s going to happen with it. We were really excited to learn that we got into South By SouthWest, We got into the Chattanooga film festival and we’re opening Fright Fest in London soon. We’ve got the film festivals in Korea, Germany, Argentina…
Chloë : We also have Brazil and Boston.
Jeremy : More people will see it and we can’t wait for that to happen.
Ron : What’s the reaction been like so far from those who have seen it?
Chloë : So far it’s been incredible. Really lovely. I think the story resonates with a lot of people and is culturally relevant for this moment.
Jeremy : Anyone who’s been an outsider or marginalized or pegged for breaking a rule will get it. Anyone who’s seen the system and realized how screwed up it is will get into this movie for various reasons.
Ron : Chloë, since you are playing a punk rocker I’d love to know what kind of music you listen to. Both of you actually. Are you into punk at all?
Chloë : Yeah, well I never really got into punk before The Ranger. Even as I was preparing I was more into Riot Grrrl stuff and true blue punk. Now it’s changed. It’s sort of nice to play a different character and the things they like you start to like y’know?
Jeremy : I have a musical answer for you. I was studying the script and trying to build this character most of which is done before you even arrive on set. This song kept popping into my head. It’s from Charlie Rich called The Most Beautiful Girl. I remember driving late at night with my mother in the mountains and this song would come on.
I said to our director Jenn “Hey after this next shot I’d like to try something.” I wanted to sneak in this song with maybe the ranger singing or humming it. She liked it so much that they got the rights to it and put it in the movie. There’s also a composition in the movie that’s based on that song. It’s really cool. This movie has a great soundtrack.
Ron : With a movie about camping I have to ask if both of you are into camping.
Chloë : No. Not at all.
Jeremy : Yes. I grew up in Colorado so I love camping.
Ron : Since it seems to maybe be a bit of a horror film as well I should ask what is your favourite horror film of all time?
Jeremy : It changes but for me right now I’d say Tucker and Dale vs Evil. It’s so good. I’d also say Cabin in the Woods. Stitches is amazing. It’s so funny. There’s a lot of humour in The Ranger too.
Chloë : I really love let the Right One In. I love The Babadook. I think my favourite one is Habit. It’s a very special movie.
Ron : You’ve both got your careers going so well. Jeremy, you’ve been playing an agent I believe on House of Cards.
Jeremy : I play the deputy director to the F.B.I. and season six is going to be great. Robin Wright is amazing. She directed one of the episodes this year. She’s incredible. Michael Kelly who is like a brother to me is one of the best, kindest people you could hope to work with so I feel blessed to work with this family of artists.
Ron : So Jeremy I was wondering if in your mind you’ve ever wanted to be a secret agent like James Bond or Ethan Hunt?
Jeremy : (smiling) When I was in high school I said to a counsellor “I want to be in the C.I.A. what should I do?” and he said “You should take science and Russian.” So I took a lot of science and Russian language. So I was on that track and theatre seduced me away from it.
Ron : Chloë, I have to admit I’m a huge comic book nerd and growing up Daredevil was always one of my favourite heroes. I feel very privileged to speak with someone associated with Daredevil since you were on The Defenders. Do you have a favourite super hero?
Chloë : Growing up I really liked Spider Man a lot. I really like the X-men. When I was in high school I really appreciated the whole ‘freaks’ thing about it.
Ron : That kind of relates to your character in The Ranger right? A gang of punks who look and act different.
Chloe : Yes! Totally.
Ron : For both of you I’d like to ask who was your inspiration for acting?
Jeremy : Look I defend your fellow countryman, William Shatner all the time. He’s such a great actor.
He really is. I’ve never seen him on the stage, but I know people who have seen him and they say he was just incredible. I grew up watching Star Trek and Little House on the Prairie with Michael Landon. These are definitely men I wanted to be like. When I decided to be an actor they were the people I looked up to professionally.
Chloë : When I was really little my older sister was an actress. When I wanted to try it I was six and she as eight years older than me, so I think she was a big part of that decision.
When I was 14 I saw Another Earth with Britt Marling and I remember thinking “Who is this woman?” Then I realized that she wrote it too and I was like “What? She wrote this part for herself and she’s just amazing?!” So my sister and Brit Marling are the two for me.
Ron : I think that’s so great that for you Chloë your choices are a bit personal and for you Jeremy it’s more professional. It shows this dynamic going back to the punk rocker and ranger. It seems like there’s this thread woven in between you two.
Jeremy : We’re in this life and we’re all in a tapestry together and you have to figure out where to tie those knots and where to cut the thread. This is definitely a knot we want to tie again and again.
Ron : I want to thank you both for taking the time and I wish you all the best success with The Ranger and your future projects as well.
Jeremy : Thank you, Ron.
Chloë : Yeah, thanks for taking the time to be with us.