SXSW 2019 VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Jeffrey Donovan On ‘Villains,’ Kyra Sedgwick, Bill Skarsgard & Maika Monroe
Jeffrey Donovan stars in a brand new dark comedy-thriller film called Villains, which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, earlier this month.
The 50-year-old actor — who is best known for his role in the USA series Burn Notice and for films like Hitch and Changeling — sat down with uInterview exclusively to discuss his new movie and his co-stars: Kyra Sedgwick, Bill Skarsgard and Maika Monroe.
“I play George [in Villians] and [the film] is kind of a thriller and a little bit of a scary movie with comedy. Two young criminals go into a house to try and steal a car and it just happens to be Kyra Sedgwick and my character’s car. We stop then and then hilarity ensues,” he said, laughing.
Donovan added that there is also a “secret” lurking in his character’s basement that “propels the whole movie forward.”
The actor added that the prospect of working with Sedgwick — who is married to Kevin Bacon — was one of the main reasons he was interested in being a part of Villains, which was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen.
“She’s such a giving actress, and so supportive of not only me but of the filmmakers and she was really like a leader on set,” Donovan revealed.
Donovan also heaped much praise on Skarsgard — the brother of Alexander Skarsgard and son of Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard who most famously played Pennywise the clown in 2017’s It — and Monroe, who has starred in films like Independence Day: Resurgence, The Fifth Wave and Hot Summer Nights.
“They’re talented young actors and they’ve both been in really widely-seen, zeitgeist-y movie projects, separately,” Donovan said of the pair. “They knew what they were doing and it was great.”
Donovan also revealed that while shooting Villains, he, Sedgwick, Skarsgard and Monroe rented a house and lived there together throughout filming, and so almost became like a family.
Donovan also explained that he was drawn to the film’s script because it was “an interesting riff on the thriller genre” with more comedy than people might expect to see.
“I always feel like humor is such a warranted and necessary thing in tense dramas,” he said, adding comedic moments give the audience a nice “break” from tension.
Villains certainly seems like a film that defies many of the conventions of its genre.
Q: Who’s your character in the film?
A: So I play George and the film is called Villains, and it’s kind of a thriller [but also] a little bit of a scary movie with comedy. Two young criminals go into a house to try to steal a car, and it just happens to be Kyra Sedgwick and my character’s car. And we stop them and then hilarity ensues and there’s a secret in our basement that gets revealed in the film that propels the whole movie forward.
Q: What attracted you to the project?
A: One of the reasons even why I did the film was I wanted to work with Kyra and being
opposite her for five weeks was just a true joy. She’s such a giving actress and so supportive of not only me but also the filmmakers. She was she was really like a leader on set, so it was really great and it’s why I wanted to do the film, and to kind of kind of really just share the screen with her and then also work with [I think] two very talented young filmmakers.
Q: What was your favorite scene?
A: Well, there was — the scene actually wasn’t in the original script — there’s a scene in the movie where we have Bill and Maika kind of tied up somewhere and we are having a little fight and it’s at the kitchen and she’s doing the dishes and I’m drawing and it wasn’t really there. We started dancing and that was something that we kind of came up with, that we live in this, like, old playing movie and our heads and there’s almost like a soundtrack that’s playing as we’re dancing [to] and and it was a really intimate moment between two really horrible people. But we knew that we wanted that kind of contrast, and I think it’s one of my favorite moments.
Q: What was it like working with Bill & Maika?
A: They’re talented young actors and they’ve both been in really widely-seen kind of
zeitgeist-y movie projects (separately), so they knew what they were doing and it was great. You know, we all rented a house right next to the set and we all got together every
morning for wardrobe and makeup all in the same house together anywhere. So it
became almost like a little family: like we were like the parents and they were like the children and it was really nice.
Q: What attracted you to the script?
A: The script has a tone to it that, if done poorly, was really dangerous to do and I thought that was really challenging and I hadn’t seen anybody writing scripts like this. Usually it’s like a couple words of dialogue: ‘run run run, who’s behind that door?’ or ‘run run run,’ you know, so it was an interesting kind of riff on the thriller genre with a little bit more comedy than people that I think are used to. I always feel like humor is such a warranted and necessary thing in tense dramas, I think so because if it’s just drama drama drama, tense tense tense the whole time then you don’t give the audience kind of a break. So I saw the humor when I Skyped with [the writers], I went you know, you wrote something that can be funny. Was that intentional?’ and they said yes it was, I was like great then I’m on board.
Q: Was this a risky role for you?
A: Yeah and it’s a risk to take the role to also you know Kyra and I went for it I mean there’s no we didn’t we didn’t just kind of play around we went for almost like we were in a whole different movie from a different time period and it was really a credit to the filmmakers to modulate that with old generation against a new generation of villains.