Behind the scenes of LOVE ETERNAL with Pollyanna McIntosh

We catch up with the star of Brendan Muldowney’s latest film…

Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh is a face to watch out for; this month she stars LOVE ETERNAL, the second film by Irish director, Brendan Muldowney. The film, which was awarded Best Irish Film at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival earlier this year, is an examination of death, and how we understand losing those we love. caught up with the actress on her recent visit to Dublin, to find out more about love, death, necrophilia and LOVE ETERNAL.

What drew you to LOVE ETERNAL?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Essentially, it was a great script, but more specifically, as an actor you are interested in the character you are going to play. First off, for me, it’s got to be a film that I feel I would want to watch; that it has some worth to it, that it’s trying to explore something, trying to say something. I was just so chuffed to be offered a role that, despite the fact that Naomi is going through bereavement and she is obviously depressed and suicidal, but her attempt to always be positive and always be ‘up’ is something that I could relate to. I think that side of her is a little bit heartbreaking, but there is a genuine positivity there, there is a genuine want to look at the world that way, and I feel the same way. To play somebody that outgoing and ‘up’ was really appealing, because I’m often asked to play really dark roles… [laughs] Which is great because I love everything I’ve done, but I am just a bit of a goofball, so that mix was really interesting.

Did you read In Love With The Dead, Kei Ôishi’s book that the film is based on?
PMcI: I didn’t. Funnily enough, In Love With The Dead is not available in English, so nobody could read the book until the production had translated it. Brendan [Muldowney] was really inspired by the novel, but the film has taken a different angle from the novel. I say this to audiences – like in Korea for instance “I hope you weren’t disappointed that there is not as much necrophilia in the film. Does anybody miss the necrophilia that’s in the book?!” [laughs] Nobody put their hand up. It was a good thing that I hadn’t read the book, but it wasn’t so helpful when I first spoke to a journalist about it, because I had no idea that I needed to say it’s not all about necrophilia. This journalist asked what was up next and I told them I was doing a film adapted from In Love With The Dead. The headline he chose to put was ‘Pollyanna McIntosh, In Love With The Dead in Necrophilia Romance’ and I was like “WHAT!?” I had to email him and get it taken down so fast! [laughs]

There is a lot of complex emotion in the film, but the scene where you’re in the sea looked like it was shot on a freezing cold day, so what was the biggest challenge for you?
PMcI: Oh my god, I am getting cold just thinking about it. I love Ireland, but bloody hell it’s cold sometimes. I was lucky enough to have two fantastic producers who went in the sea before we did, to try and find the right level, and they were out there in their swimming trunks freezing their n*ts off before we got out there. It was great to have that kind of support. There is a scene where I am pulling Ian (Robert DeHoog) out of the water because he can’t swim, in all of my clothes, weighted down. I am using so much energy to pull this man who is like a dead weight… It was so cold, I went blue. I have never felt my body do that before, it just shut down. That was a real wake up.

Did you do the cliff jump yourself?
PMcI: I didn’t, I really wanted to but I wasn’t allowed to. It was a stuntwoman wearing a wig doing me. They did a great job of shooting it. I wanted to do it, but I couldn’t because of insurance. I have just done a film where I wanted to jump out a window and run across a rooftop, and instead they had a stuntman do it. A man, wearing wig and a low cut top that his chest hair came out of. I can’t wait to see how that looks in the film because it looked ridiculous [laughs]. On top of that, he was running ‘like a girl’ and I was going “That’s not my character! She certainly doesn’t run like that!” [laughs]

Death is a very powerful theme in art, literature and film… Why do you think that is?
PMcI: Well it’s very single one of our inevitable journey. There’s no getting away from death. It’s the only thing that we all absolutely definitely have in common. It’s a common experience that’s coming to us all. It’s a mystery; we don’t know what’s going to happen. I love that, I love that we don’t know, I’m happy to not know; it allows for all sorts of fantasy, and it allows for great storytelling because the possibilities are endless. I think comedy and storytelling and the origin of myth were created to help us feel safer, to help us be sated through knowledge. It’s comfort through understanding, so of course we’re going to tackle what’s everyone’s greatest fear, which is not being around any more. Missing things, and the bigger fear is losing somebody else… It certainly is for me. I have never been afraid of dying, but the idea of losing someone else is terrifying. We are wonderfully logical animals in some respects, but in others we’re not. We fight against what’s happening and can’t accept it, so we need stories to help us do that. So shall we just tell the stories!?

I read that you want to do more comedy, and yet here you are in a film about death, is there comedy in the future for you?
PMcI: I’m writing a comedy at the moment. I am at the first draft stage of that and I am very excited about it. I have got a lot of support from the Irish filmmaking community, so that’s been great. I’m in a TV series at the moment, a kids’ show, called MI High, which is very much a comedy, but of course I play the baddie. There is a lot of opportunity for comedy in it though, because she’s very vain. I also did a comedy called Bob Servant Independent, which is on the BBC, with Brian Cox. I think I am getting enough of it in there, but I always want to do more.

Other than the writing and the TV work, what’s next for you?
PMcI: I have three things lined up, and I can’t talk about any of them! [laughs]

LOVE ETERNAL is released in Irish cinemas on July 4th

Words: Brogen Hayes