There are original ideas, and then there are ideas that are so out of place that they make your eyebrows arch and your jaw drop. that’s the case with Glorious, a Lovecraftian horror revolving around glory holes and otherworldly creatures. Wes, played by Ryan Kwanten, decides to drink himself into oblivion at a rest stop after a difficult breakup. Things go from bad to downright weird when Wes runs into a sinister voice (JK Simmons) in a bathroom. The voice locks Wes in the bathroom and takes him on a psychological journey that breaks his spirit until he is allowed to end his suffering by offering a sacrifice through a glory hole.
That synopsis may be difficult for many to understand, but Kwanten saw it as an exciting way to challenge his abilities as an actor. In an interview with Digital Trends, Kwanten explains how Glorious it became one of the most satisfying experiences of his life. She also talks about True Blood reboot and if he has any interest in returning as Jason Stackhouse.
Note: This interview has been summarized and edited for length and clarity.
Digital trends: Glorious is a Lovecraftian horror movie involving glory holes. What is your first reaction when you hear that?
Ryan Kwanton: [Laughs] Well now I have to think that JK Simmons is the first thing that comes to mind. It was all those things. Shudder and JK, they were already leaking before I was brought on board. that would be it [take] a much braver man than me to say no to something like this with that kind of caliber and juice attached.
When you finally read that script, what stood out to you?
I really didn’t read anything like that before. It had allusions to those great plays of that time. You know, the kind of two-handed games where they keep people entertained by just [on] the fact that the dialogue on stage was so intense. This guy had big allusions to that. Rebekah actually said at some point [while] laughing that “we could do this as a play.” It could easily run like this.
We were fortunate in the fact that we were able to shoot a lot in chronological order, which made it feel very organic and new. When you’re shooting something as crazy as this, as anarchic and absurd as this movie is, it’s important to know where you’re coming from and where you’re going, and that chronological style of filming definitely helped us.
I had the opportunity to speak with the director of the film, Rebekah. [McKendry], and she said that the role of Wes had to be played clearly. It couldn’t be funny or silly. How were you able to give a dramatic performance in this strange and absurd story?
I have to take it away from JK Look, this movie doesn’t work unless you have [him]. I guess I’m more of a laconic character, but JK’s sense of timing, his sense of both horror and humor. He is bigger than a human. He is playing at being a god. So in essence, you really want someone who has a sense of reality to the cadence of that delivery.
Did you talk to JK about your scenes before filming them? She must feel different acting alongside a voice instead of a human.
Yes. Look, I’ve been lucky enough to have done a lot of voice acting in the past. [in] film and television. This was amazing because we got to do hours of research with JK, as well as do two, two and a half full reads so we could really understand where she was going. But then during the 18 days we were filming, it was a producer who replaced JK and did the voice. He did a surprisingly good JK impersonation, believe it or not.
We had a pretty good idea of where JK wanted to take it. He even got a chance to react to my performance and how Rebekah found the project after filming it: how it had changed and how that might have affected the original sense of JK.
you touched on how Glorious it was filmed like a stage production with the way you were blocking and rehearsing all the moves. Rebekah said you were doing ten minute takes. How did you adapt to this style of filmmaking? Did you enjoy doing long takes?
That’s a fantastic question because it’s really quite unusual even if you have those scenes written that are ten pages long. For the most part, those scenes are one minute per page. Very rarely do you get a chance to play them from start to finish, but Rebekah was adamant from the start that we were going to play those scenes in one take.
For me, spending a lot of time alone on set really helped me gain momentum. A movie like this lives or breathes in its rhythm, so it was very important for us to stay on our toes. Theoretically, we were in a truck stop bathroom for over 80% of the movie, so we want to cover every inch of that rest stop bathroom we can. We want to take Wes through the full range of emotions possible in those 80 minutes.
Was it intimidating being the only person in a scene for long periods? Was it a good reprieve to act with someone else when Wes interacts with people at the rest stop?
It’s funny, man. That’s why I like movies like this so much, because I don’t see myself as different from anyone else. They were all so uniquely important, particularly in a movie of this size. Everyone is doing the work of two or three people, sometimes two or three departments. Whatever he is doing, I can promise you that he is being outperformed and outperformed in at least a dozen other departments by other people. So I have a lot of things to be inspired by in a movie like this when I look around. It was honestly one of the most fruitful and satisfying movie experiences I’ve had in a long, long time.
With True Blood, there have been talks of a reboot ever since the show went off the air. Casey Bloys said she has been presented with multiple versions, but hasn’t settled on one. Any news to share about it? Would you be interested in exploring Jason again?
No. Not both. I like it Glorious, that time in True Blood changed my life wholeheartedly. It has been nothing but amazing for me. But we did seven seasons, and I think that’s enough for me personally. I feel beyond lucky to have come this far. We got out before the real “compulsive madness” where you had to wait a week before watching the next episode, and it actually played out really well. I think I’d be looking to replicate that experience, and I just don’t think I’m not in the business of replicating.
With streaming, I don’t even know if a show can last seven seasons anymore. Certain shows deserve the weekly format, and I think it’s slowly coming back. You shouldn’t look at everything at once. But, I think you’re right. It’s hard to replicate what you did in the past.
I agree with you. i think there is something [in] having to wait This is probably a silly step, but I compare it to reading a book where you have to pick up where you left off. Sometimes a couple of days later. But it does promote a different form of long-term memory and also long-term emotionality.
glorious is streaming exclusively on Shudder.