From Sasha to A Chorus Line: A Conversation with Emily Tyra for the Release of HARPOON
With his perfect family and perfect upbringing, Richard (Christopher Gray) appears to have it all. So when he thinks that his long-term girlfriend, Sasha (Emily Tyra), and best-friend, Jonah (Munro Chambers), are having an affair, it sends him into a fit of rage that leaves Jonah a bloody mess. Once Jonah and Sasha convince Richard the allegations are false, Richard tries to buy back their trust by taking them out for a day-trip on his family’s yacht.
Tension boils-over once out to sea, and, to make matters worse, the yacht’s engine fails. Stranded without food and supplies, the trio must set aside their differences in order to survive. One part post-modern Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, one part Knife in the Water with the cast of Seinfeld, Harpoon is a wickedly humorous and bloody deconstruction of friendship and love.
In our interview, The Fan Carpet‘s Jonathan Hughes in association with The Killer Spotlight Podcast spoke to Emily Tyra about HARPOON. In a interview spot forever known as HARPOONAPALOZZA, Emily tells Jon about working on a boat, the movie magic that goes into it and reviving A Chorus Line in DC….
So right, Harpoon, which is being released today on Amazon Prime and Arrow Channel as well. It’s’ a great film by the way, I watched it just the other day, it’s really funny, really sarcastic, really well written characters and humour and everything….
So I loved it. How long was shooting on the boat itself?
The boat itself? We did all the interior shots previous to the boat actually. So the boat, shooting on the actual boat was only about a week and a half, two weeks I want to say.
Okay. And the interior stuff, how long that take? Interior I want to say was about a month. We shot all the interiors in Calgary, it’s a Canadian filmmaking team, so we shot everything up there on a set and hilariously it was like the dead of winter so we where (laughs) supposed to be, like, on this ship on the sea and we were shooting on a sound stage with just the snowiest, coldest Calgary winter. And then we flew everybody down to Belize and we shot on a yacht on the coast there, and that’s where we did all the exteriors, so where you see the actual boat.
Right. Yeah when you’re watching the film, it’s a little bit of movie magic there as always……
Oh yeah (laughs)
Because a lot of the time you’re up and down the damn thing and you wouldn’t think, how well it was edited, which is cool.
Yeah. It is cool. It was interesting for us because we, there’s only three of us in the movie, three actors, so we rehearsed it and shot it in chronological order which is sort of unusual, as an actor working on camera, you don’t normally get to do that, we kind of take bits and pieces and it depends on location. But with this because there where so few of us and we where locked in this one space for the duration of the film, we shot everything in chronological order for the interiors and then everything in chronological order for the exteriors. So despite the editing of it going in and out of the boat on the deck and then the interior, we actually got to kind of live it in it’s actual time space which was pretty cool.
That’s good. Was filming on a boat, filming on a boat in general, was that uncomfortable in any way, was there anyone unwell or anything like that… (Emily laughs)
Yeah one of the first questions that Rob Grant asked everybody was “are you okay shooting on a boat for long periods of time?” and there where definitely a few people who may have stretched the truth on that (laughs). One of my co-stars, not to be named, I think had a little bit of trouble with it. But, for the most part, you know, we where docked when we where shooting on the boat, just for logistical reasons and then when we did go out to sea it wasn’t for a super long period of time even though you would think so by watching the movie (laughs).
No no that’s good, because I can imagine being out there too long and you might go slightly go crazy.
Yeah just like vomit everywhere and nastiness, no we didn’t (laughs) have to go through that. Thank god.
Yeah. There’s a few scenes where you get to do some action in the movie, did you by any chance, during rehearsing, did you accidentally punch Christopher or Munro during some of the scenes?
(laughs) I didn’t but it definitely took some very meticulous stunt rehearsals to figure out all of that stuff. We had some crash pads, we had a stunt co-ordinator who was amazing and kind of helped us to make sure everything looked really real but without hurting each other (laughs). There’s a really cool move where Chris Gray yanks the back of my head and pulls me down by my hair and that was quite a feat actually, it doesn’t look like very much on camera, but when we had to shoot it I was like “are we really going to do this? I have to fly backwards, land on this crash pad?”. So luckily no one hurt in the shooting of Harpoon, but we definitely had to take care with everybody and, yeah there where a few moments I’d say towards the end of shooting where we all kind of wanted to punch each other but that was because we where sort of sick of each other at that point (laughs).
Obviously I assume you had fun working with Christopher and Munro and Rob…
(Emily interrupts) Oh my god yes.
…any fun stories or any fun little gossips you want to reveal for this podcast?
(laughs) Well, you know, I would say that life imitated art in a way in that, it was such a small crew and such a small cast, we got to know each other really fast, none of us had ever worked with each other before, we showed up in Calgary for our first day of rehearsal and, you know…..So we really really dove into these characters and for the most part Rob really kept his cards really close about how he wanted the movie to come out tone wise and, you know, how he would sort of shape it in the editing process and we really just took it from the page and took it very seriously and each of us really dove into these characters in a very deep way and so by the time we got to Belize and we where had just been doing this and being in this world 24/7 we had a little bit of cabin fever ourselves. And I want to say it was the last week of shooting in Belize where everyone was kind of like, we would cut, take a break and we’d all just go to our separate corners and kind of hunker down (laughs) so the fun was sort of over, but then once we had wrapped where like “ah that was just awesome, what a great experience”.
That’s good. That’s good to hear. So in terms of story, when you say he was holding his cards close to his chest, did you all know, we’re going to keep this spoiler free obviously, did you know full on what the plot was or was it like, how to explain this, or did you not know how it was going to go until last minute or something?
No yeah, we had all read the script, we knew exactly what was going to happen in the movie. I just mean in terms of… you know our jobs as actors is to take what’s written on the page and turn it into a living breathing character and story, but then it becomes the director and editor and Rob is both of things and it becomes his job to sort of turn it into the type of film that you consume as a viewer and he’s so brilliant the way that he did it. And when we, you know, when we wrapped it we all loved working on it, loved the process but Rob wasn’t super revealing about what he was going to then do with it back home. So when we got to see it it was just, we really enjoyed it and was like “wow” and this is such a fun and thrilling and gripping sort of movie that just happens to you in 82 minutes. And I think that Rob was just super brilliant, the way that he had attempted to piece all these things together and then turn it into this gory yet hilarious piece.
Yeah that is really good. We are speaking to Rob and Munro later on today (Emily interrupts)
Oh good yeah. Love Munro.
So what research or fun facts did you learn when you where researching the role, what kind of research did you do or what fun facts did you learn as well on your journey into this project of Harpoon?
Well, you know, I, this sort of all came together, I had read the script and then a couple of weeks went by and maybe a month or something and then it was like “okay it’s a go, it’s going to happen” there was some location changes, things like that. So until I found out we were actually going to go into production, I think I maybe had a few days to gather my stuff and get up to Calgary and start work on it. So the research sort of happened as we were, and we were very fortunate to have time to rehearse together, but because the movie is really about the relationships of these three people, it sort of gridlocked, it sort of happened in the process of rehearsing it and getting to know my two co-stars and, you know, figuring out our dynamic together and then figuring out how we could rig it so it just became this tension that got held all the way throughout the movie. And in terms of, you know, the boat stuff, Rob is just a deep well of knowledge on boat facts and ship, you know, what do you call it? What’s the word? You know the….
Like a Wikipedia?
No like things you shouldn’t do on a boat, superstitions.
Superstitions that’s the word. Superstitions about boats and superstitions about ships and shipwrecks and, you know, all those kinds of things that I had no idea about and those are a part of the movie very much and they kind of get sprinkled throughout and sort of have to do with the way that Rob wrote it and how he cast it and how it all comes together at the end. So that was a big factor I would say in the research portion of this. But at the end of the day, the character Sasha is sort of obviously the female energy among these two sort of “bros” and the friendship of the three of them doesn’t exist without one of them, we’d just completely dissipate and so we had to kind of figure out what each of our roles was specifically so that this tryst could live in a way where none of them could lose the other, and that was what came from getting to know everyone else and everyone’s else’s character and what they wanted to do with it.
Nice nice awesome. So I’m going to play a little scenario you right.
Same sort of scenario, like you go on a boat it’s all nice and peaceful and all of sudden the ship breaks down. You’re stuck in the middle of the ocean (Emily laughs), whose the one person that you would A: Love to be stuck on a boat with and B: Hate to be stuck on a boat with?
Okay. who I would love?
It could be an actor, it could be anyone alive, dead or fictional.
Dead or alive, okay. I would love to be stuck on a boat with Barack Obama and I would hate to be stuck on a boat with Guy Fieri. I don’t know why Guy Fieri, he just annoys me.
Oh my god, remind me who Guy Fieri is…
(laughs) He’s the chef guy who has like bleached hair and wears his sunglasses on the back of his head. You know who I’m talking about?
I think so?
Gnarly food with gravy all over it and stuff.
Oh is he like a TV chef? Like Gordon Ramsay?
Yeah kind of like that but more gross. I don’t know (laughs)
Is it the food that he makes that makes it gross or just like……
Yeah I guess it must be the food and the fact that he wears sunglasses on the back of his head. Who does that? You know.
Yeah that’s crazy. Yeah that is a bit mental, the sunglasses on the back of the head.
It’s so silly.
Unless he’s one of those aliens that Men in Black are hiding and he’s actually got eyes in the back of his head (Emily interrupts)
Maybe that’s it. Jonathan you’ve figured it out, you’ve cracked the case (laughs) he’s got four eyes.
Yeah. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are going to pay me a visit now (laughs)
I wouldn’t mind Chris Hemsworth coming by too…
Oooooo that would be fun too. There’s so many options you like really put me on the spot there. There’s definitely more people that I would like to be stuck on a boat with than there are people that I wouldn’t actually to be honest.
No I understand that. Because I’m just saying you could either eat him more just beat him up or whatever, or bring him out there and just to throw them out on a boat like Sopranos style (Laughs).
Yeah yeah yeah. For sure. Just get it out of your system.
A little Sopranos spoiler for some people but there you go. Okay. Because you’re the first of the three people that I’m going to be speaking to today, I’m going to let you have a go at this. Basically I’m going to be speaking with Rob and Munro later on, so is there a question that you would like to ask Rob or Munro yourself?
A question that I haven’t asked them already. I wonder? Let’s see. (laughs). For Rob, I want to know if he’ll ever want to shoot on a boat again? (laughs) And for Munro, I would say, now that he’s taken a step away from the character, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much does he like Jonah as a person?
Yeah, 1 and 10, do you like Jonah? Nice.
Do you like him now that you’ve left him behind?
Wonder if he likes him more than he likes Turbo Kid (Emily interrupts)
Oh yeah he was Turbo Kid.
Because I went into research for all the people I’m doing the interviews with and I was like “oh wait he’s Turbo Kid” he looks nothing like he did in Turbo Kid.
Oh yeah he’s a chameleon. I think he’s such a great actor (can’t make out) really so talented, but yeah he transforms, he’s a cool guy.
Definitely. What you got coming up, what’s next for you?
Well actually I’m currently in Washington DC doing a play. So totally changing gears, I’m doing a musical (laughs)
Nice. What’s the musical, is it based on a production of some kind or?
Actually it’s a classic, it’s A Chorus Line. Have you ever seen or hear of that show?
No. What happens in A Chorus Line?
A Chorus Line is, it’s a classic musical conceived and choreographed by and directed by Michael Bennet from 1975. It was like one of the longest running Broadway shows of all time and we are currently reviving it here in DC for the very first time with brand new choreography since its origin. And so I’m playing Cassie in the show and we are hard at work here sort of giving it a new spin, it’s had it’s original locked choreography since the very beginning, now it’s getting to have a new life. So it’s pretty cool. Taking a classic and giving it a little twist. Do your prefer stage or film?
Oh you know, people have been asking me that question a lot and I think the answer is that I’m a little bit ADD so I prefer to jump around (laughs). I like kind of putting my feet in one pool and then the other and then the other because they then all sort of inform each other and they’re very different and I tend to get bored easily so it’s nice to and stretch this muscle and go and do this and then go and do a little bit of singing and then go and do an Indie film or whatever, go back to episodics. So I’m lucky that I get to do all that stuff, switch it up.
HARPOON IS AVAILABLE NOW