Iain de Caestecker on In Fear

Iain de Caestecker has had a busy year, what with starring in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and taking the lead role in Ryan Gosling's debut feature. We caught up with the Glaswegian actor to discuss his new film, indie horror In Fear

Feature by Simon Bland | 12 Mar 2014

In Fear, the first feature from director Jeremy Lovering, is a pressure cooker horror which follows young couple Tom (Iain de Caetecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) on a trip deep into the countryside. Their plan to stop at a remote hotel before continuing on to a music festival is halted in its tracks when a mysterious force seems intent on keeping them lost. Tensions between this unfamiliar couple quickly mount, and when a mysterious stranger (Allen Leech) starts stalking them, the duo's true colours are revealed.

Shot on location and without the actors having full access to the script, Lovering’s cast were forced to think on their feet while he fired one unpredictable scenario at them after another. We caught up with star Iain de Caestecker to discuss his rising career, preparing for being unprepared and using Google Maps...

The Skinny: Between In Fear, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and starring in Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut How To Kill A Monster, this must have been an exciting year for you. What’s the most noticeable difference?

Iain de Caestecker: I suppose the big difference is that I’ve been filming out in LA for the last couple of months, so it’s a culture shock in a lot of ways. I’ve always known about America but there’s lots of differences between America and the UK, so while I really like it out here I do miss the UK a lot for sure. Everything goes quite fast when you’re in among it.

Do you find yourself getting recognised a bit more and if so how do you handle it?

Yeah, now and then – it depends really. Sometimes out here I won’t and then you go through periods of quite a few people noticing you, but I’ve always found it really positive. I don’t really get noticed way too much, so whenever I do it’s usually just someone saying ‘Hi, I enjoyed this’ or ‘I enjoyed that,’ which is really nice. I get quite embarrassed about it, which is the only [downside]. When I’m in certain situations with friends I always get a little bit embarrassed but usually people are really nice and I can’t ask for anything more,

Director Jeremy Lovering didn’t show you the script for In Fear before shooting began – how did you prepare for being unprepared?

Well I didn’t really. A big part [of acting] for me has always been giving myself a hard time and really over preparing... On this it was the first time where I would actually finish up on set and go home, maybe get a couple of pages out for the next day just telling us what’s going to be happening and giving us a little forethought, but apart from that I’d come home, I’d have dinner and I’d go to bed – and it was great. I actually got some sleep for the first time while I was filming because usually you stay up a couple of hours going over your script every night, so that was a really invaluable experience. I suppose you don’t often get the luxury that we were granted on In Fear, so it was a special project where that was able to happen. It becomes a very freeing experience being able to do that every day and just being able to improvise and go with whatever your instincts tell you,

Without knowing his character arc your attitude to your character must have been very fluid – how did you see Tom?

Well we never actually read a script beforehand, I met Jeremy and we improvised some scenes and I met Alice and we went into rehearsals and rehearsed a backstory between the two of us and then we went into filming. We found stuff when we were rehearsing but really when we got into filming they put us in these situations that we didn’t know were going to happen and those were really the moments where we figured out who our characters were. At the start it was all a bit more about this young couple and personally, for my character, he had quite a lot of bravado and I think he had a view of who he thought he was. I think everyone has a view of who they would want to be in given situations but until you’re actually in it you don’t know, sometimes your reactions would surprise you. It was constantly a very freeing experience to be able to do that and the more we did it and the more we got into shooting, the less aware of it I was. It became a subconscious thing,

Do you feel you can handle any shooting style having worked with Lovering?

I don’t know actually, I mean it’s definitely made me more prepared. I think a lot of the reasons why it worked were because of Jeremy and certain things he did. Even when he’s quiet and unassuming he’s always doing something to create an atmosphere, and sometimes it was only afterwards that I would realise, ‘Oh, that’s why he said that yesterday,’ because he was trying to provoke something out of me that I didn’t realise at the time. He’s very good at doing that and not in a patronising way, or a manipulating way. He’s more just trying to get the best out of you. I was very lucky to have that and Alice [Englert] and Allen [Leech]. I’ve no idea if it could work again but it was definitely a very special time and environment we created around us,

Watching In Fear, it feels like a pressure cooker horror – did the stress of not knowing what was going on create tension in the cast?

There was certainly. Whenever we would get back to the hotel at nighttime we would maybe go down for a drink or have some dinner, and we would always get on really well, but definitely on set there would be a lot of times in between takes for a long period of time where we wouldn’t talk to each other. We were also filming out in the middle of these country roads in the middle of the night for weeks, so that instantly creates an atmosphere itself. It never bubbled out way too much into our real lives, I don’t think I ever got annoyed. I’ve always been really close to Alice but definitely on set it created a tension between us, which kind of had to be real.

Navigation is an underlying crux of this movie that heightens the tension between yourself and Alice. How often do you get lost in real life – are you a Google Maps wiz?

Now I’ve got my iPhone I’m alright. I’d like to think I have a good sense of direction. Usually if I go somewhere I can find my way back, I think. That’s the thing with technology now, isn’t it? As long as you’ve got your phone and you’ve got Google Maps... I don’t know what I did before I had that. I don’t know how people got around just using paper maps. Once you’ve got that it’s kind of easy,

Lovering also plays with the role of the leader in the movie – did you feel the control shifting?

Yeah, the start of the movie is when we adopt these roles, where Tom thinks he’s the ‘I can take care of everything’ alpha male and Lucy can just sit back and relax. It’s funny how when things start to go very wrong for him, that [relationship dynamic] quickly changes without him being very aware. I think Lucy becomes the more dominant and self-assured character, whereas Tom slowly disintegrates and crumbles and doesn’t know what to do.

Growing up, what were you favourite horror movies?

I always loved 28 Days Later. I loved that movie and think it’s brilliant, and things like The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby and films like that. I’ve always been a big fan. In fact, the first movie me and my brother made together when we had a video camera when we were nine or something was a horror movie, so it was definitely a genre that I was always interested in.

In Fear is released on DVD and Blu-ray 10 Mar