Feeling Claustrophobic: A Conversation with Grégory Levasseur ahead of the release of The Pyramid
The ancient wonders of the world have long cursed explorers who’ve dared to uncover their secrets. But a team of U.S. archaeologists gets more than they bargained for when they discover a lost pyramid unlike any other in the Egyptian desert. As they unlock the horrific secrets buried within, they realize they aren’t just trapped, they are being hunted.
The Fan Carpet had the pleasure of speaking to filmmaker Grégory Levasseur ahead of the release of The Pyramid. We talk about the his long standing working relationship with Alexandre Aja, his love of Egyptian myths and history and the casting of James Buckley and Ashley Hinshaw…
Let’s go back to the beginning, what drew you to a career as a filmmaker?
Just because I love writing. I used to write scripts with Alex, and I was really astonished by the concept of this movie. It’s really something. All the elements in movies that I love to watch were in this script; like survival, tension and the mythology. That’s a movie that I want to see and one I really wanted to do as it really appealed to me. We were trying to develop this in a few movies and it really came together in its own storyline.
Can you talk about your working relationship with Alexandre Aja?
We’ve been best friends since we were ten years old. So it’s been a very long collaboration and a great friendship. It was special because in the past I was more involved in the writing part and produced a lot, I also worked as a second unit director on past movies. The relationship changed a bit because this time I was in the director’s chair but we know each other so well that in the end it wasn’t that different from our previous collaborations.
One aspect I really loved about the film was the reliance on Egyptian myth, without giving too much away because I believe it’s better to not know too much going in, can you talk about your research and how you arrived at the idea for The Pyramid?
Yes totally. I love Egypt, I think it’s a fascinating place to make movies but I was not that aware of all the mythology and I had to open some history books and do some research! Also I don’t want to spoil the movie but I was a little disappointed with the real stories, so I tried to make it more surprising, and something that our characters could investigate through the movie, and they find out what is hidden. But research was important to ensure my ideas matched the mythology.
When watching the film, I really felt the claustrophobic environment of being trapped under ground, was that important for you to capture especially knowing that after the shoot they’d get out?
When reading the script I could see themes from The Descent or Indiana Jones in The Pyramid, so the idea of the claustrophobia was very important. I love The Descent, it’s a great movie and has amazing tension and what Neil Marshall did with the suspense means it’s probably one of the most scary and enjoyable movies. And this became my theme. To have the cast in a small space and to not play with the claustrophobic aspect [in The Pyramid] would have been a shame. The Descent became a reference and that was the goal I tried to reach, I’m not saying its as effective as The Descent but that’s what I wanted to explore, to put my characters in that situation.
Speaking of the cast, can you talk about how you arrived at James Buckley who is mostly known for comedy and Ashley Hinshaw who is mostly known for drama?
It wasn’t planned but we really wanted to use lesser known, less Hollywood actors. When we were casting we met with a lot of actors and they showed me different actresses and Ashley was very quickly my first choice. So we didn’t argue too much on her! James came a little bit later, I think he came about 7-10 days before the shoot and we were pretty sure, he jumped in very quickly. I was very happy to have him. The character wasn’t due to be British but when the studio asked me if I was happy to have a comic British actor I agreed.
I didn’t watch The Inbetweeners or know the show so for me it was like having a new face, without the references that English people have. James’ character is almost like the audiences point of view, so to have all of James’ irony and comedy background really helped a lot and brought some humour to the character and I think he is a very talented guy. It was great working with him!
How do you follow The Pyramid, which in my opinion is so much more than a creature feature, what is next for you?
I’m writing but I’m just enjoying promoting The Pyramid. I’m working on something else next but I can’t say!
And finally, you’re talking to The Fan Carpet and we would like to know who or what you are a fan of?
There are so many directors it is impossible to choose one, I love movies and people often ask me about horror movies’ directors, but I’m not trapped in one genre. I love to watch comedy, drama, so there is no one director, I can’t choose, sorry!
THE PYRAMID OPENS IN CINEMAS ON FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER COURTESY OF 20TH CENTURY FOX