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THE WICKER TREE, writer/director Robin Hardy’s truly bizarre
follow-up to his weird and disturbing 1973 morality play THE WICKER MAN, is
currently burning the timbers of select theaters across the country (see our
With its tongue planted deeply in its cheek (and occasionally falling right out
of its mouth), TREE is a broad, arch romp with many strengths, chief among them
actor Graham McTavish as the grinning, French-twist-mustached villain Sir
Lachlan Morrison, an imposing gentleman of half-mad pagan wickedness. When he’s
on screen, you can’t help but look at him and smile.
Small wonder, then, that the man behind the malevolent
facial hair (whose credits range from 24 to RAMBO) is just as much a presence
in reality, as Fango found out when we spoke to McTavish briefly from the New
Zealand set of THE HOBBIT.
FANGORIA: It must
feel very rewarding to know that THE WICKER TREE is being appreciated by
audiences on a big screen, as it was meant to be seen.
GRAHAM McTAVISH: We
shot THE WICKER TREE in summer 2009, so it was a few years ago, and it is
strange to be back and thinking about it, but there you are. When I was
originally involved in the film, I was going to play the manservant and Sir
Christopher Lee was going to play Sir Lachlan, but it took some time for Robin
to get it made. Robin was actually trying to make the picture for the better
part of 15 years, so what I really love about it is that it is a fantastic
testimony to his tenacity and ability to realize his vision. And for an
80-year-old man to do that in such a pure way is rather extraordinary.
FANG: THE WICKER
TREE is hard to classify, and therefore a challenge to market. What do you see
the film as? A comedy? A horror film?
McTAVISH: I do think
it is a satire, but there are parts that are disturbing and creepy but couched
in a darkly comic world. It goes toward that more than THE WICKER MAN, and
self-consciously so. People are expecting a straight-out horror film, but it
isn’t, and that’s what makes it interesting, I think.
FANG: Have you seen
it with an audience yet?
McTAVISH: I saw a
previous cut a year ago with cast and crew, but have not seen it with the
public—but that’s something I’d like to do, and I hope I get the chance.
FANG: You make a
great screen villain, and the key to your visual ID here is that wild facial
hair. Was that yours or Hardy’s idea?
McTAVISH: First of
all, I really, really enjoyed doing the film not only for the chance to work
with Robin, but being back in that part of Scotland, which I know very well,
and also being with friends, many of whom I had worked with in the theater
years prior. Now as far as the facial hair, that was me. Robin was happy with
it. But I’m always interested in experimenting with those kinds of looks.
FANG: Can you tell
us anything about THE HOBBIT?
McTAVISH: I can’t,
I can’t… I mean, people are actually watching me now to make sure I don’t!
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