In search of a fresh start away from a troubled past, a young American woman seeks refuge in an isolated English village, only to find herself trapped in a waking nightmare in The Boy, an unconventional horror thriller from director William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside).
When Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a job as a nanny for an 8-year-old boy, she is shocked to discover that she has been hired by a strange elderly couple to care for Brahms, a life-sized doll that they treat like a real child. A stand-in for the son they lost tragically 20 years earlier, Brahms comes with a lengthy list of rules that Greta is warned to follow to the letter. Left alone in the sprawling mansion while her new employers take a long-awaited holiday, Greta ignores the rules and begins a tentative flirtation with handsome local deliveryman Malcolm (Rupert Evans), until a series of disturbing and inexplicable events convinces her that supernatural forces are at work. As she is pulled deeper and deeper into a frightening mystery, Greta faces a terrifying final twist in a nail-biting thriller that will have audiences guessing until the final moments.
Starring Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead,” “The Vampire Diaries”) Rupert Evans (Hellboy, “The Man in the High Castle”), Jim Norton (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, American History X), Diana Hardcastle (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “The Kennedys”) Ben Robson (“Vikings,” Dracula, the Dark Prince), and James Russell (“Blue Bloods,” “Forever.”) The Boy is directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside, Stay Alive) from a screenplay by Stacey Menear (Mixtape). The film is produced by Tom Rosenberg (Million Dollar Baby, Underworld ), Gary Lucchesi (Million Dollar Baby, Underworld), and Richard Wright (Underworld, The Age of Adaline). Producers are Jim Wedaa (Unstoppable, Mission to Mars), Roy Lee (The Departed, How to Train Your Dragon), and Matt Berenson (The Place Behind the Pines, Daddy Day Care), Director of photography is Daniel Pearl (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th). Editor is Brian Berdan (Natural Born Killers, Crank). Production designer is John Willett (Final Destination, The Grey). Costume designer is Jori Woodman (Final Destination, White Chicks). Composer is Bear McCreary (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Walking Dead”).
AN UNUSUAL FAMILY
Greta Evans, The Boy’s resilient, resourceful young heroine, has fled small-town Montana for the English countryside, hoping for a fresh start. Her new job with the wealthy Heelshire family is a chance to take refuge, build up a nest egg and figure out next steps as far away from her old life as possible. Instead she finds herself on the other side of the world, far from friends and family, caring for a life-size porcelain doll that she is expected to treat like a real child.
Actress Lauren Cohan captures the vulnerability and strength of a young woman left with few choices, but determined to make the best of the ones she has. After seven seasons playing zombie-apocalypse survivor Maggie Greene on the hit AMC television series “The Walking Dead,” Cohan admits the last thing she thought she wanted to do was a horror film.
“I was looking for something super sweet and relaxing and romantic,” she says. “But once I started reading this, I couldn’t stop. I was terrified and exhilarated throughout and that’s exactly how I felt as we filmed it. Greta goes on a monumental journey, which was so appealing to me. This set-up is the last thing she expected. But by the time she realizes her employers want her to take care of a doll, she figures they’re paying her all this money just to play along, so why not? But the situation is not exactly what it seems. When strange things begin to happen, it totally unnerves her. It gets super spooky and I hope the audience will be as scared watching it as I was reading it.”
The filmmakers were captivated by Cohan’s combination of beauty and approachability. Her innate likability makes for a character that the audience will root for, observes Richard Wright, Lakeshore Entertainment’s Executive Vice President of Production. “You don’t want anything bad to happen to Lauren. As we see Greta stuck in this creepy old house with this strange doll and weird stuff happening all around, we know that she’s in jeopardy long before she does. We fear for her, which was exactly the atmosphere we wanted to create.”
“The Walking Dead” has already made Cohan a familiar face, but The Boy will highlight her magnetism on the big screen, in the opinion of producer Gary Lucchesi, President of Lakeshore Entertainment. “Her dedication and commitment made her the hardest-working person on the set, but she was always gracious and caring. She’s also lots of fun to work with. The camera adores her and she loves to act, which was a wonderful combination for us.”
Director and star found an immediate rapport. “Lauren is perfect in every way for the role,” says director William Brent Bell. “When I met her, I felt like I had known her my whole life and that was really important because Greta is in every single scene. Lauren never faltered, even in the most ridiculously intense scenes. She was willing to do 20 takes if that was what I needed.”
Cohan was equally impressed with Bell’s approach on set. “Brent had such a clear idea of how to tell the story,” she recalls. “We were completely in sync about the way Greta comes to accept Brahms as a living child. The private moments between the two of them are really quite moving and emotional. That brought the character to life, which is important because he is the title character in the film.”
The process of casting the film’s supporting roles was a unique experience for Lucchesi, despite having produced nearly 60 movies and TV shows. “We found many of our actors — including major players like Rupert Evans, Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle — through video auditions,” he says. Once production began, we were thrilled to see the chemistry amongst the cast play out as beautifully and richly as we had hoped.”
Evans, currently starring in the new Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle,” plays Malcolm, the local grocery man who becomes Greta’s only friend and ally in her new home. “When Rupert finally read with Lauren, there was an instant connection,” says Bell. “That was essential because Malcolm is immediately enamored with Greta and she is clearly attracted to him. He takes on teaching her all about Brahms and his parents. They become close pretty quickly, because she has nobody else to turn to. It’s a tricky role. Because Malcolm is rooted in the community, the character is responsible for a lot of exposition. He has a lot of yarns and monologues. Rupert makes it absolutely captivating.”
Malcolm provides sanctuary and sanity for Greta, who has to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings and an unconventional situation very quickly, Cohan explains. “But he has his own mysteries as well. They have this silent understanding of each other, which I felt Rupert and I did as well. They are two strangers meeting against this unexpected backdrop and they offer each other things that they’ve never really seen before. As they both witness some very strange goings-on, a strong bond develops between them. They are living through a heightened, wild experience but their connection is very realistic.”
The Heelshires, Brahms’ “parents,” are an older, exceedingly proper couple who appear steeped in the traditions of upper-class England. “The Heelshires come from old money,” explains Lucchesi. “They’ve been together a long time and are ruled by a strong sense of propriety and refinement. Diana Hardcastle and Jim Norton, who play the couple, are thorough professionals, with hundreds of credits between them, and are both quite proper individuals themselves.”
Hardcastle, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, lends Mrs. Heelshire an austere, even severe quality, while Norton’s Mr. Heelshire provides a softer, kinder presence in the house. “Their dynamic is absolutely believable and critical to the story,” says Lucchesi. “We decided that it was Mrs. Heelshire who had the idea of creating Brahms, the doll. She is the one obsessed with all the rules and regulations. She’s the one who has the greater emotional need for the doll.”
Mrs. Heelshire is a tough taskmaster who dominates the house — and her less assertive husband, according to Bell. “She was a very overprotective parent who didn’t let her son play with other children,” says the director. “But it’s clear she loved him more than anything. She’s flawed and she’s made mistakes. But at the same time, you really feel for her. Diana was always up for anything that was asked of her.”
Hardcastle admits that she is quite terrified by horror movies herself. In fact, she says she has never seen one. “But this role and this story are so very good, I had to do it. It’s a bizarre situation, isn’t it? I suppose she’s gone a bit mad actually. When she loses her son, she needed a substitute, so she found a perfect little boy who is, in fact, a doll. She is an unusual woman, to say the least.”
Working with director Bell was a pleasure, says the actress. “Brent is absolutely brilliant. He cast things very well and that is so important. He was very approachable and easy to work with. The movie is not just thrills and spills. People will be disturbed by it, because it’s got all levels of suspense. There’s some very violent stuff and there are some downright frightening and inexplicable events. Let’s hope it makes people talk and speculate and wonder and say, let’s go see it again!”
As the gentler and perhaps more reasonable half of the couple, Mr. Heelshire gives the audience an opportunity to find some common ground with the family. “He would do just about anything to make his wife happy, including going along with this charade,” the director says. “He has such loyalty to her. Jim carried that off beautifully, because he is so caring a person. He also did more improvisation than anybody in the movie. I could say, can you talk to the doll about this and he was off and running.”
The Boy has all the elements Norton looks for in a project, including interesting, well-drawn characters, a smart script and an original story. “It’s an ingenious and very scary tale of unconditional love gone wrong,” the actor notes. “These parents love their child so much that they will do anything to safeguard his memory. They’ve never quite come to terms with their loss. People deal with grief in different ways and the Heelshires invent another character in their lives in order to retain their sanity. They hire a lovely young woman to look after their child so they can go away on holiday and that’s basically the story. But of course, as in most really good thrillers, nothing is what it seems.”
Norton calls the Heelshires’ relationship “a pretty unholy alliance.” “He goes along with this out of deference to her feelings and his own love for his child. In contrast to his co-star, Norton says he loves a good chiller and found The Boy to be an extraordinary one. “It is unique and original and full of surprises right up to the very end. That’s what makes it so exciting. It’s about love and fear — and consequences!”
Complicating Greta’s already jumbled life is the sudden appearance of her ex-boyfriend Cole, played by Ben Robson, best known for his role in the television series “Vikings.” “The dynamic between Ben and Lauren was quite interesting,” says Bell. “We thought Ben would be an unusual and unexpected choice as the ex-boyfriend. In the beginning, we pictured the character as the ex-high-school quarterback gone bad, with spiky blond hair. But we decided that was too obvious. We wanted him to feel scary without being a cliché. Ben is so imposing without even having to try. He’s 6-and-a-half feet tall and a big guy, which was perfect opposite Lauren, who is tall and athletic herself. You could see how he kept her under his thumb.”
Robson tried to approach the character with some empathy, taking care not to paint a simple black-and-white villain. “Cole tracks her down in England because he wants her to come home,” says the actor. “He is quite an aggressive character, so it was interesting to work out what makes him think that she wants to come back. And then when he gets there, everything is a lot more complicated than he thought. There’s a doll that’s supposedly running around the house. It was a lot to explore.
AN ISOLATED ENGLISH MANOR
In a film for which setting and atmosphere were so critical to creating the unsettling world of the story, the most crucial design element in the film was Brahms. “We had to get the doll exactly right,” says Tom Rosenberg, Chairman and CEO of Lakeshore Entertainment. “It had to be lifelike. It had to be the right size. And it had to be creepy, but at the same time appealing. We went through a lot before we got that.”
Picturing an extremely realistic, almost cherubic character, the filmmakers took as much care in creating the doll as they did in casting any of the other roles. The inspiration for Brahms’ overall look was Jett Klyne, the young actor cast as the real-life child, who appears only in the photos and paintings lovingly preserved by his parents. “Jett was the embodiment of what we wanted,” says Bell. “He is this adorable little boy, but no matter how beautiful and how sweet he is, he can make you believe he could turn bad in a moment.”
The filmmakers sought out Todd Masters, one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed creators of makeup effects, to build Brahms. Skin texture, hair, eye color and expression were all explored in depth during the lengthy design process. “Brahms has a key role in the movie,” says the Emmy®-winning craftsman. “The other actors were cast for specific reasons and it was the same for him. We came up with an organic, realistic design that appears believable as a real kid in some shots, but is very much a doll in others.”
The goal was to create an idealized version of the “real” Brahms, as portrayed by Klein, according to Bell. “Todd started with the head design,” the director says. “He focused on giving us an angelic little boy who has something behind his eyes that makes it seem like he’s not exactly safe to be around.”
“What we didn’t want was an overtly creepy doll, like Chuckie or Annabelle,” adds Wright. “He has an innocent, childlike look, until the light changes a little bit and then he looks like he wants to kill you. There are a few effects that help with that — contact lenses that distort his eyes, dental applications. In the end, we realized that we could do so much with light and mood and costume, as well as with how the actors react to the doll.”
Brahms may look like just a pretty china doll, but in actuality he is a very complicated sculpture. “We did various versions of his face and his body until we found what we needed,” says Masters. “His face allows Daniel Pearl to create the attitude through lighting. We created more contour so when light is cast in different directions, the shadows create the expression. You can see subtle changes, which is really exciting. The whole idea was to try to make it as neutral as possible, but within that to find subtle changes.”
Ultimately, Masters and his team created four shooting versions of the doll. “One is the super-doll, like a gigantic stop-motion armature. You can position it exactly as you want, which makes him look quite human. Other versions are slightly different sizes and weights. Sometimes he’s poseable, sometimes he’s floppy. Sometimes he weighs very little so it’s easy to carry him; other times the body’s very heavy so he can sit up.”
Masters eschewed the special effects that have become ubiquitous in contemporary movies, however. “There were quite a few conversations about keeping it grounded through emotional and tonal magic, not digital magic. That’s the kind of stuff that makes classic cinema, because in the end, you don’t remember the great special effects. You remember feeling a certain way or getting to know the character, not pixels and data bits flying all over the place.”
Costume designer Jori Woodman put the finishing touches on Brahms, creating a complete wardrobe for him, from flannel pajamas to formal suits with the short pants typical of British schoolboys. “I had originally ordered some beautiful little tweed suits from a company in England, but we ended making all of the doll’s clothing,” Woodman says. “He is a younger version of his father in beautifully tailored, custom-made suits with little vests and Tattersall shirts. Brahms is very well turned out, which suits him as the title character. He represents everything that the manor house represents — including its secrets and lies.”
For the Heelshires, Woodman took inspiration from the long-held traditions of the British countryside. “For me, that area evokes images of mystery, secrets, old-school manners,” she says. “People adhere to the old traditions, living in big, drafty homes without central heating and wearing tweed, corduroy and heavy sweaters, because they’re cold. And you never truly know what goes on behind those closed doors.”
The timeless silhouettes and sturdy fabrics of the British aristocracy translate into wool tweed skirts and cashmere sweater sets for Mrs. Heelshire. “Mr. Heelshire wears a country plaid three-piece suit and an old barber oilskin jacket that he does the ratting in,” explains Woodman. “There’s nothing contemporary about how they look. We kept the color palette very neutral, because there’s so much wood and red in the house. Everything is quite simple.”
Greta’s big-sky country roots helped define her wardrobe in the same way. “Being from Montana, where the weather is very similar, she’d know how to keep warm,” says Woodman. “We kept her in simple jeans, sweaters and a hoodie. Lauren is so beautiful that it was not difficult to make her look like the idealized all-American girl.”
While The Boy is set in the damp and foggy English countryside, the film was shot entirely on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, an area rich with fin-de-siècle mansions built by the newly wealthy timber, railroad and coal barons of Western Canada. Sprawling symbols of freshly minted fortunes, these New World places were a blatant imitation of the homes of Britain’s aristocracy.
“It is called British Columbia for a reason,” says Wright. “We were actually better off shooting the entire film in Canada than we would have been in England. There are some very grand houses there that were built at the turn of the century, mostly by people of English descent who had made a lot of money in commerce. They built big look-at-me palaces in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Most are no longer in private hands, because they are too big for most people to live in or maintain, but a lot of them are available to shoot in.”
What appears to be the Heelshires’ enormous Gothic mansion in the film is in fact a combination of two vintage houses and a few specially built sets, cinematically melded into one cohesive setting. “One of the houses is currently the administration building for a university,” says Wright. “The other is now a museum. We used the stairway and a front entryway from one house, and a series of rooms and hallways from the other house. The architectural designs were not identical, but we incorporated visual cues that fool the eye. The biggest challenge was making sure the shots matched as characters moved from one house to the next and then back again in the same sequence.”
Production designer John Willett and art director James Steuart created a floor plan for the fictional house to ensure continuity, then created the sets that were needed to complete the Heelshire home on a soundstage. The end result is a seamless, oak-paneled window into another more opulent era. “There are several scenes in which a character will walk from one house into another house,” says Bell. “It had to look convincing. The exterior scenes were just as complicated, and they did a great job. John Willett visited the sets several times before we ever spoke. He had such a strong vision for what he wanted to do for this movie. He came up with this whole design, not just for making the disparate sites into one cohesive location, but also for the smallest things in the movie like the rat traps, which we wanted to make sure had the same vintage feel as the rest of the house. Everything is designed specifically for the story.”
As longtime residents of Vancouver Island, Willett and Steuart are intimately familiar with its unique architecture. “Visually, this was a chance to do something special,” the production designer
says. “The architecture is almost a character in this film. The public face of Heelshire Manor is elegant and old world, pristine and pretty in its way, but there’s another side to the house that can be quite sinister. We used grand old Romanesque and Victorian homes, which predetermined the general style for the sets that we built. I did the obligatory research and then figured out what should be updated and what should be kept true to the period.”
Bell proposed bringing in legendary director of photography Daniel Pearl, whose prolific work in the horror genre includes both the original 1983 Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the 2003 remake. But it was his work in the beauty and music industries that convinced the filmmakers that Pearl could provide a feeling that was both appropriately spooky and gorgeous.
“Daniel did a magnificent job with this film,” says Lucchesi. “We knew he could make this unusually beautiful because he has created some of the most stylish, coolest music videos for people like Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Bruce Springsteen.”
The atmosphere he created on the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre depended primarily on natural light, says Wright. “We wanted that same vibe for this. But he also knows how to create a spectacular, beautifully composed image, and not a lot of people can tick both those boxes.”
Pearl’s encyclopedic knowledge of the mechanics of cinematography is matched by his instinctive understanding of light and framing, says Bell. “We wanted this to be a beautiful, classic-looking movie with a bit of an edge to it, but not your grandfather’s scary movie. The house is old, so we’ve pulled back the saturation to make it a little more antique looking, until we get into the third act where it’s very dark and scary. That section of the film was shot with what we called the ‘Battle Cam.’ It’s hand-held and very real, more frenetic and intense than the first two-thirds of the movie, which are dreamy and very beautiful.”
From his first reading of the screenplay, Pearl says he could picture the shots in his head. “This film clearly had both beauty and a bit of the beast in it, which suits me,” he says. “I’ve been a cinematographer for 42 years and I have my own ideas about how a film should look. I don’t think anybody expected me to come in, turn on a couple of light bulbs and shoot. We talked more about coverage and angles and lenses than we did about the look.”
With help from his top-notch production team, Bell feels confident he has made a movie that will stand the test of time. “It didn’t have a big budget, but the amount of blood, sweat and tears we put into it was considerable,” says the director. “We agonized over the design of the doll. We found a way to shoot a couple of extra days because we thought we really were onto something. Because everyone was so on top of things, we were able to complete a very beautiful, elegant movie in only 24 days.
“I really hope we have managed to make a movie that will be just as viewable 30 years from now as it is now, with the same power when the big reveal happens,” says Bell. “I told the crew when we started making the film that I didn’t just want to make a scary movie. I wanted to make something that was going to last, and I think that’s what we did.”
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
“I wanted to make a classic haunted-house story,” says Bell. “I figured it was the perfect next step for me. The script is character-driven, layered and subtle, but at the same time really frightening. So much happens in the film, which is rare for a scary movie. There’s also a great twist, which was a blast to direct. We all thought we could make something that would last forever and I hope that is what we made.”
Keeping events rooted in reality is key to terrifying audiences, the director says. “When you’re alone in your house, strange things happen,” Bell says. “You wake up in the middle of the night and you think you hear footsteps. Sounds seem so much louder. Every little thing plays on your imagination. Our main character, Greta, is in a huge, unfamiliar house. We can’t tell if the things that happen are just in her head. She sees and hears little things that could just be tricks of the imagination. It could just be her going a little bit insane from the paranoia of being alone in a rambling place in the middle of nowhere.”
For screenwriter Stacey Menear, the inspiration for his first produced feature film, The Boy, goes back to his childhood and the supremely scary thrillers he enjoyed while growing up. From The People Under the Stairs and The Innocents to classic “Twilight Zone” episodes, Menear drew from a wide-ranging array of influences to create a truly original, chilling new tale.
“I really love stories that deal with characters learning something through a terrifying event,” says Menear, whose 2009 screenplay Mixtape was included on the prestigious Hollywood Blacklist of best unproduced scripts. “Scary dolls have always fascinated me. So I started to do some research on them and found out that are there are a lot of them around in real life. There are dolls that are supposedly haunted and others are said to have come to life. Starting from there, I tried to build in something a little different that would be unexpected and scary and really fun to watch.”
An early draft of Menear’s eerie tale attracted the attention of producer Matt Berenson, whose résumé ranges from the acclaimed drama The Place Beyond the Pines to the recent reboot of the quintessential monster movie, I, Frankenstein. Berenson brought the script to Lakeshore Entertainment, where top executives instantly recognized its potential as an intriguing character study with elements of both classic horror and supernatural psychological thriller. “It was a very well-written script with an unusual twist that we didn’t see coming,” says Rosenberg.
Among the script’s selling points for Lakeshore were its uniqueness and the way it keeps audiences guessing right up until the surprising conclusion, says Wright. “It’s difficult to pigeonhole this film, which is one of the things we liked about it,” adds producer Richard Wright, “What I can say is that by page 20, I had to turn to the end, because I could not wait to see what happened. I knew something weird was going to happen, but what was it? I just couldn’t stand the suspense.”
Once Lakeshore had acquired the script and the producers began looking for a director, they set their sights on William Brent Bell to direct. Bell had already had a resounding success with his low-budget horror hit, The Devil Inside, and was poised to take on a bigger project. Bell, who is known to his colleagues as Brent, saw an opportunity to do something provocative and unique.
“We really wanted to make sure it was somebody who had worked in this milieu before,” says Lucchesi.“The Devil Inside was truly terrifying and extremely well-directed. It was made for about a million dollars, and it ended up grossing over $50 million.”
Initial meetings with Bell impressed the producers even more and convinced them he was the right director for the film. “I liked him from the moment we started talking,” Lucchesi says. “He brought another level of artistry to the film and was an absolute joy to work with. He’s great with the actors, plus he understands scary and how to edit to achieve maximum thrills.”
Bell’s preparation and proven expertise in the genre convinced the producers he was the right director to realize the enormous potential of Menear’s script. “He was impressively articulate in explaining what he would do for the movie,” Rosenberg says. “It was clear he could handle the subtleties. This is as much a psychological thriller as it is a horror film. There are plenty of scares, but they work because of the tension Brent creates throughout, not from the actual event themselves. You won’t see what’s coming.”
Bell says that although he regularly receives some pretty scary screenplays for consideration, it is rare for him to find one this good. “A girl alone in a strange house has been done a lot,” he says. “It’s hard to find a unique approach to that, but Stacey keeps everything moving and he keeps you guessing throughout the entire script. As the story progresses, you want to know what’s going to happen with this doll. Stacey constructed a twist that will have people talking now and will stand the test of time as a classic thriller.”
The director brought new ideas and energy to the script, says Menear. “Brent’s ideas sharpened a lot of the scares and pushed me to find the characters in a way that I hadn’t before. He helped make the whole script more grounded. I loved watching my characters spring to life. I wrote it in a specific way and then it became something new. It was really fun to be surprised by my own writing.”
According to producer Wright, Bell has packed the film with the kinds of “jump scares” that will delight audiences. “Brent is a master of creating jump scares,” says the producer. “He knows how to make them work without being cheesy. Honestly, you’re going to jump right out of your skin. In addition to that, he creates a creepy, unsettling feeling of dread underlying everything.”
A terrifying and suspense-filled ride, The Boy will have audiences glued to their seats. “If you go the movies to be scared, this will scare you,” Wright says. “It’s funny because in real life, you would do whatever you could not to be in this situation. The characters in the film are in terrible danger and there’s a certain glee we get from that. You feel that something menacing is lurking just out of sight, and yet you go deeper and deeper into the danger zone alongside Greta.”
The movie’s final moments will be unforgettable, promises Menear. “I think people will be blown away. If you watch it a second time, you will see all kinds of clues scattered throughout, but while you’re watching it, you won’t see it coming.”
ABOUT THE CAST
LAUREN COHAN (Greta) currently stars as Maggie Green on AMC’s smash zombie-fest “The Walking Dead.” The show has amassed a massive following of tens of millions of viewers, and the fifth season premiere drew 17.3 million viewers, making it the most watched drama series telecast in basic cable history. The hit show is also the #1 show on television among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. The series returned for Season 6 in October 2015 and is currently on winter hiatus until its mid-season premiere which is set to air on February 14, 2016 on AMC at 9:00PM.
Cohan will next be seen on the big screen as the female lead in STX’s THE BOY, a horror thriller produced by Lakeshore Entertainment and Vertigo Entertainment. The film is directed by William Brent Bell (THE DEVIL INSIDE) and written by Stacey Menear. The horror thriller will be released on January 22, 2016.
Cohan previously appeared in a one episode guest-spot for “Law & Order: SVU, and additional television credits include a series regular role on “Supernatural,” pivotal guest arcs on “Chuck” and “The Vampire Diaries,” as well as guest appearances on “Modern Family,” “CSI: New York” and “Cold Case.”
In 2014, Cohan starred in the John Herzfeld-directed independent film, REACH ME, alongside Sylvester Stallone, Kyra Sedgwick, and Kelsey Grammar. Additional film credits include CASANOVA with Heath Ledger, VAN WILDER 2: THE RISE OF TAJ and DEATH RACE 2.
Born in Philadelphia, Cohan spent her childhood in New Jersey before moving to United Kingdom at the age of 13. There, she graduated from the University of Winchester/King Alfred’s College where she studied Drama and English Literature. While at the university, she co-founded and toured with a theater company called “No Man’s Land.”
Cohan currently divides her time between London and Los Angeles.
RUPERT EVANS (Malcolm) starred in the award-winning horror feature The Canal (2014), directed by Ivan Kavanagh. The Canal premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to stellar reviews. Evans can currently be seen starring in the critically-acclaimed Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle,” from The X-Files creator Frank Spotnitz and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions. Evans plays Frank Frink, an artist and an intellectual with a secret. Set in 1962 and based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel, the 10-episode series explores an alternative reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and now occupy the U.S.
Evans recently completed production in Pittsburgh on American Pastoral, Ewan McGregor’s directorial feature-film debut. Based on Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the film follows Seymour “Swede” Levov (McGregor), a legendary high-school athlete who grows up to marry a former beauty queen and inherits his father’s business. His seemingly perfect life shatters when his daughter rebels by committing a deadly act of terrorism during the Vietnam War. Evans plays the role of McGregor’s younger brother. Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning also co-star in the film.
Since his training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, Evans has become internationally recognized for his film, television and theater work in a wide range of acclaimed projects. The actor made his feature-film debut as FBI agent John Myers in Hellboy, award-winning director Guillermo Del Toro’s adaptation of Mike Mignola’s comic-book series. He also starred alongside Rachel Weisz in Alejandro Amenábar’s historical drama Agora, which screened out of competition at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
Evans has been praised for his work in some of Britain’s best dramas. In 2014 he was seen in the role of Ian Fleming’s older brother Peter in “Fleming,” a mini-series biopic about the celebrated Bond novelist. Evans also appeared in “World Without End,” the follow-up to 2010’s critically acclaimed TNT miniseries “The Pillars of the Earth,” and starred in “Emma,” the Golden Globe Award®-nominated adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. He was applauded for his performance in the BAFTA and IFTA nominated miniseries “Fingersmith,” with Sally Hawkins. Other British television credits include “The Village,” “Lucan,” “Poirot: The Labours of Hercules,” “The Secrets,” “The Little House,” “North & South,” “Rockface,” “The Palace” and “Sons & Lovers.”
Evans has starred in numerous productions for some of London’s most prestigious theater companies. He headlined productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, both in the title role of “Romeo & Juliet” and as the Dauphin in “King John,” for which he was nominated for an Ian Charleson Award. Other stage credits include “Life Is a Dream” (Donmar Warehouse), “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (Donmar Warehouse), “Fear” (Bush Theatre), “His Mighty Heart,” “Psychogeography” (Bush Theatre), “Breathing Corpses” (The Royal Court) and “Sweet Panic” (Duke of York’s Theatre).
Evans resides in London.
JIM NORTON (Mr. Heelshire) has worked on a variety on film projects including Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Water for Elephants, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Straw Dogs, Hidden Agenda, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Driving Lessons, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Oyster Farmer and The Eclipse. Most recently, he played Father Sheridan in Jimmy’s Hall, for Ken Loach. Norton’s TV credits include “Elementary,” “Frasier,” “Poirot,” “Star Trek: the Next Generation,” “Stan” and most recently, “River.”
Norton won a 2007 Olivier Award and a 2008 Tony Award® for “The Seafarer.” His Broadway credits include “Of Mice and Men,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Finian’s Rainbow” and “The Weir” (Olivier nomination). Other New York credits include “Juno and the Paycock,” “Dublin Carol” (Obie Award) and “The Night Alive,” all at the Atlantic Theater. National Theatre credits include “The Veil,” “The Pillowman,” “Hamlet,” “Bedroom Farce,” “Comedians,” “St. Joan,” “Way Upstream,” “Tamburlaine the Great,” “Playboy of the Western World” and “Chorus of Disapproval.” At the Royal Court he appeared in “The Contractor” and “The Changing Room.” Most recently Norton was seen in the sold-out Barbican run of “Hamlet,” opposite Benedict Cumberbatch.
DIANA HARDCASTLE (Mrs. Heelshire) was born in West Africa and was educated at Bristol University and Central School of Speech and Drama. She is married to Tom Wilkinson and they have two daughters. Diana left drama school early to play Juliet at Lyceum Crewe, directed by Alan Devlin, for which she won the Best Newcomer Award.
Her theatre credits include seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford where plays included; A Doll’s House directed by Adrian Noble, Les Liaisons Dangereuses directed by Michael Attenborough. She also played Creusa opposite Jude Law in Ion, directed by Nicholas Wright and Countess Delyanov in Peter Gill’s production of A Patriot for Me. For the Royal National Theatre her plays include Secret Rapture, directed by Howard Davies; The Duchess de Guermante in Harold Pinter’s In Remembrance of Things Past, directed by Di Trevis and Mutabilitie, directed by Trevor Nunn. Diana has worked at the Royal Court, playing Rosie in Simpatico, directed by James Macdonald; she has also worked at The Almeida in Camera Obscura, directed by Jonathan Miller and most recently in Edward Albee’s, A Delicate Balance which was also directed by James Macdonald. Thea Sharrock has directed her in 3 plays, A Kind of Alaska, Slight Ache and Tejas Verdes at London’s Gate Theatre. Diana has starred in two world premieres Me and Mamie O’Rourke, written and directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue and Ronald Harwood’s An English Tragedy, directed by Di Trevis at Watford Palace. In Manchester she has worked at The Royal Exchange playing Mrs Allonby in A Woman of No Importance, directed by Marianne Elliot, she also played Cariola in Adrian Noble’s production of The Duchess of Malfi, which transferred from the Royal Exchange to the Roundhouse, and as Florence Lancaster in The Vortex, for which she was nominated for Best Actress in Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards.
Her numerous television credits include: Fortunes of War, Love Song, Reilly: Ace of Spies, 4 series of That’s Love, Utopia and recently playing Rose Kennedy in The Kennedys for the History Channel, in which she won Best Supporting Actress in the Canadian Gemini Awards.
Her film credits include: Jenny’s Wedding directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue; Good People for Henrik Ruben Genz; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel directed by John Madden and A Good Woman, directed by Mike Barker.
BEN ROBSON (Cole) landed his first major lead role as Lucian opposite Academy Award®-winner Jon Voigt in Lionsgate’s Dracula: The Dark Prince, which was directed by Pearry Reginald Teo. The film premiered in Le Marché du Film at Cannes in 2013. Robson recently filmed the sought-after lead role of Craig in the TNT pilot “Animal Kingdom,” starring opposite Ellen Barkin for John Wells. The series is based on the critically acclaimed David Michod film and follows a family of criminals living a life of excess in Southern California. Additionally, Robson will reprise his role as Kalf, the trusted second-in-command to Katheryn Winnick’s Lagertha in the fourth season of MGM/History Channel’s hit original series “Vikings.” “Vikings” will return in early 2016.
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in the U.K., Robson grew up in Northumberland and studied acting in Newcastle and Buckinghamshire. In 2009 the actor set his sights on Los Angeles, where he studied at Stella Adler for two years, after which he returned to the U.K. Robson recently made Los Angeles his permanent home.
JAMES RUSSELL (James) has, in just a short time, amassed an impressive list of television credits including guest roles on CBS’ “Unforgettable” and “Blue Bloods,” ABC’s “Forever” and NBC’s “Deception.”
On stage, Russell performed Off Broadway in “Freedom of the City,” “Juno and the Paycock” and “Port Authority.” He booked a trio of plays at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey: “Playboy of the Western World,” “The Liar” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Internationally, Russell was seen in “The Flood” at Lyric Theatre Belfast and “Cymbeline” at Shakespeare’s Globe.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
WILLIAM BRENT BELL (Director) is an American writer, director, editor and producer of feature films and television. After co-writing, directing and editing the record-breaking box-office hit The Devil Inside, which was released by Paramount Pictures, Bell firmly established himself as one of the preeminent horror filmmakers in the business today.
Prior to directing, Bell set up several film projects as a screenwriter including the sci-fi thriller Mercury, for Universal Pictures; Illusion, for Walt Disney Pictures; and Ignition and The Vatican, both set up at Warner Bros. Bell was co-writer and director of the horror thriller Stay Alive, which was distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, and Wer, a horror action-drama released by Focus Features.
On the television side, Bell sold his pilot “Posthuman” to USA Network and set up another series, “Haunted,” at Fox. Bell will direct and write the show and shares executive-producing duties with Chris Morgan of the Fast & Furious franchise. This 20th Century Fox Television production is loosely based on the true story chronicled in the book The Demon of Brownsville Road.
STACEY MENEAR (Writer) was born in Forks, Washington, and raised all over the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from Oberlin College, Menear worked in graphic design, video games and film archiving. His writing career began when his original script, Mixtape, was included on the famed Black List honoring the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. The film is currently set to shoot in 2016 with Gil Netter producing and Seth Gordon directing.
Menear was a part of the prestigious Disney Writer’s Program, where he developed and contributed to projects for Walt Disney Pictures. He currently lives in Los Angeles and remains frightened of dolls.
TOM ROSENBERG (Producer) is the Chairman and CEO of Lakeshore Entertainment, which he founded in 1994. He produced Million Dollar Baby, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, co-starring Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture as well as Oscars® for Eastwood (Best Director), Swank (Best Actress) and Freeman (Best Supporting Actor).
More recently, Rosenberg produced The Age of Adaline, starring Blake Lively, Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn; I, Frankenstein, starring Aaron Eckhart; and Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. Rosenberg’s upcoming releases include American Pastoral, starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning, as well as the fifth installment of the Underworld franchise, starring Kate Beckinsale and Theo James. Rosenberg produced all four previous films in the series.
Other film credits include The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillipe; One for the Money, starring Katherine Heigl; The Ugly Truth, starring Heigl and Gerard Butler; Crank and Crank: High Voltage, starring Jason Statham; Elegy, starring Penélope Cruz and Ben Kingsley; Walk of Shame, starring Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden; and The Vatican Tapes, starring Michael Peña and Djimon Hounsou.
GARY LUCCHESI (Producer) is the President of Lakeshore Entertainment, an independent film company based in Los Angeles. He also serves as Vice President, Motion Pictures for the Producers Guild of America (PGA). Lucchesi executive-produced Million Dollar Baby (2004), which won the Oscar for Best Picture.
The first movie he produced was Primal Fear, starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton. Lucchesi’s other notable hits include The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillipe; The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler; the Underworld franchise, starring Kate Beckinsale; two Crank films, toplined by Jason Statham; and most recently, The Age of Adaline, starring Blake Lively.
Other credits include box-office smash The Exorcism of Emily Rose, starring Jennifer Carpenter and Laura Linney; Sam Raimi’s The Gift, starring Cate Blanchett, Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear; and three adaptations of Philip Roth novels: The Human Stain, Elegy and the forthcoming American Pastoral. Lucchesi was also the executive producer on Garry Marshall’s box-office hit Runaway Bride, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
Prior to becoming an independent producer, Lucchesi was president of production at Paramount and oversaw such films as Ghost, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Fatal Attraction, The Hunt for Red October, Coming to America, The Naked Gun, The Godfather: Part III, Star Trek, Black Rain and The Untouchables. He also worked at TriStar Pictures for four years, as both vice president and senior vice president of production. Lucchesi began his career as an agent for the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles.
DANIEL C. PEARL, ASC (Director of Photography) is a cinematographer who has excelled in multiple media ranging from music videos and commercials to feature films. Within months of receiving his master’s degree from the University of Texas in 1973, he photographed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a legendary independent feature that is now part of the permanent film collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Now splitting his time equally between commercials and feature films, Pearl has in recent years completed photography on such films as Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Adventures in Appletown, Friday the 13th, The Apparition and No One Lives.
Previously, he shot the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) for director Marcus Nispel, with whom he teamed up again in the summer of 2004 to shoot “Frankenstein” for the USA Network. It was around this time that Pearl was asked to join the American Society of Cinematographers. In 2005 he lensed the feature film Captivity for director Roland Joffé in Moscow and upon completion went straight to work on Pathfinder, working with Nispel once again.
After shooting the original Texas Chainsaw, Pearl spent the next several years shooting low-budget flicks with high production values, most notably She Came to the Valley, Stunts and Invaders from Mars. He began shooting music videos during the early 1980s, initially to fill the spaces between his narrative film projects. But his use of light and lenses — exemplified in “Billie Jean,” by Michael Jackson — breathed life into the music-video art form.
Pearl’s work became the benchmark for all music videos as he won the inaugural MTV Award for Best Cinematography in 1984 for “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, and again in 1992 for “November Rain” by Guns & Roses. Pearl has earned a total of 10 MTV Video Music Award nominations, most recently for “Take a Picture” by Filter. In 1996 he was the first cinematographer to receive the MVPA Lifetime Achievement Award and the following year he became the first inductee into the Kodak Vision Hall of Fame for Music Video Cinematography.
After being named by Kodak to its list of “The World’s Leading Cinematographers,” Pearl won international cinematography film festival CamerImage’s Golden Frog Award for his outstanding achievements in music video and commercial cinematography. His contemporary work includes collaborations with Hype Williams, Emil Nava, David Rousseau, Ray Kay, Joseph Kahn, Andy Morahan, Paul Hunter, Marcus Nispel, F. Gary Gray and Rebecca Blake. Pearl’s portfolio of easily recognizable and highly influential work includes Grammy Award® winners and the biggest names in the music industry, including Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks, Deadmau5, Toni Braxton, Kanye West, Meatloaf, Lauren Hill, Aerosmith, Shania Twain, Cher, Whitney Houston, Jay Z, the Rolling Stones, Puff Daddy and Janet Jackson.
Pearl has shot more than 300 commercials and is known for capturing some of the advertising industry’s most compelling images. He earned industry-wide acclaim for his work on Motorola’s “Wings” spot in 1999, which is also in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.
BEAR MCREARY (COMPOSER) possesses the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that led WIRED Magazine to call him a “Secret Weapon”. His unique combination of atypical instrumental background (he is a professional accordionist) with rigorous classical training prepared him to compose for disparate genres. By the age of 24, McCreary was launched into pop culture history with his groundbreaking score to Syfy’s hit series Battlestar Galactica, for which he composed “the most innovative music on TV today” (Variety). It “fits the action so perfectly, it’s almost devastating: a sci-fi score like no other” (NPR). Io9.com declared Bear McCreary one of the Ten Best Science Fiction Composers of all time, listing him alongside legends John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann. In addition to earning his first Emmy® Award in 2013, McCreary was voted “Composers’ Choice Composer of the Year – Television” for 2013 by his peers in ASCAP, the first award of its kind.
An Emmy® Award winner for Da Vinci’s Demons, McCreary also composes for The Walking Dead (which shattered records with 17.3 million viewers for its fifth season debut), STARZ’s debut series Outlander (for Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore who he previously worked with on Battlestar Galactica), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—the #1 series debut of the 2013 fall season, the STARZ series Black Sails, the Syfy series Defiance, and the feature films Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, Everly and Europa Report. McCreary recently earned his fourth Emmy nomination, his first for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Drama), with Outlander. In addition to The Boy, his 2016 film projects include The Forest (produced by David S. Goyer)) and the Bad Robot/Paramount Pictures production Valencia.