Julian Richings always plays to his strengths as a venerable character actor. He is cognizant the way he looks makes him perfect, so certain roles, including his latest horror film for RLJE Films Anything for Jackson. The film follows an elderly couple who kidnaps a pregnant woman (Konstantina Mantelos) in hopes of performing a reverse exorcism of their dead grandson into her womb. The star plays Henry, who, along with his wife Audrey (Sheila McCarthy), are Satanic practitioners of the dark arts. I spoke to the actor about his chemistry with McCarthy, the efficiency with director Justin Dyck and writer Keith Cooper on set, and the urgency of filming due to the looming pandemic.
"I loved the script," Richings said. "It's really a dark, slow, weeping tension. It's beautifully constructed. It's about so many things but within an apparently simple premise. It's the idea that an elderly couple who are grief-stricken. They hope to resurrect the dead grandson through a pregnant woman. It's a pretty ludicrous idea but written in such a way that it's believable with as convincing a couple. It makes it very sinister and creepy. I really enjoyed the kind of relationship between the two main characters, Henry and Audrey. So it's a really interesting relationship about elders in a position of power who are grief-stricken. Anyone would understand their actions, but you also understand also that their terrible actions and they should not be doing it, and they should not be enabling each other in that."
How Pandemic Hastened Filming of Anything for Jackson
While the timing of filming could have been a disaster, the Chaos Walking star credits Dyck for creating such an efficient environment on set. "It's an interesting shoot," Richings explained. "It was pre-COVID. There was a sense that I think it seeps into the film of sort of like an emerging sense of dread that there's something in the film we knew that COVID was around. We knew that we had a limited amount of time to shoot the film and we have to get it done. We just went ahead very pragmatically, and Justin put the best of two worlds. He's an extremely experienced director, which is he's done a ton of Hallmark Christmas movies."
The actor explained how Dyck made the most of his shots with his limited resources, which his experience on the holiday films taught him those invaluable skills. "[To do those Hallmark films], you have to have a very efficient machine that runs them and doesn't waste any extra dollars," Richings said. "It has to keep going. He's really well versed in running a tight ship and getting the shots, the needs, and not wasting any time. We have the benefit of his experience as an organizer and a director on set in terms of what he did, not just direct actors, but how to utilize the resources of the crew. They knew how to shoot the scene. If anything needed to be cut during the day's filming, he knew which scene to cut and which was the most efficient. We have that advantage. We also had the advantage that this actually was sort of the first scripted film that he's worked on; he really wanted to do that was his baby."
Anything for Jackson, which also stars Josh Cruddas, Yannick Bisson, and Lanette Ware, is available on VOD, Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray on June 15.