NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
Saltburn sizzles on Prime Video
Thu. December 21, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
Saltburn is an unforgettable thriller set in England in the mid-2000s. Barry Koeghan plays Oxford University student Oliver Quick, who visits Saltburn with his new friend Felix Catton. Unexpected antics and family dynamics surround Quick's stay in this piece written, directed and co-produced by Emerald Fennell.
Irish actress Alison Oliver makes her feature film debut in Saltburn as Venetia Catton and London talent Archie Madekwe portrays Farleigh Start. He played Ivo in Heart of Stone also released this year and lead real life character Jann Mardenborough in 2021's Gran Turismo.
The two of them spoke during a recent interview about how they became involved with Saltburn in the first place.
Oliver reflected on the experience, “I found out about Saltburn in a traditional way, an audition came through. The script wasn't sent to us initially, so I auditioned with a monologue from a Promising Young Woman. I had an in person audition with Emerald after that. When I met her I wanted to do anything I could to be a part of it.”
Madekwe agreed while thinking back on it, “Similarly for me, I didn't get the script for a while. Emerald had written a couple of monologues and I also did one from a play. She had me try different accents and we workshopped it. They wanted someone really famous to play the part, so I didn't hear from them for a long time. I almost signed on to do a different job and I got a text at 4 a.m. from Emerald that said, “Please be Farleigh and don't do anything else!”
Madekwa gives a multi-dimensional performance as the unabashedly queer character. When asked about the similarities or differences between their onscreen characters and real life Oliver answered, “I think we are both quite different from our characters. We come from different backgrounds. I am Irish so it felt like a different world. In terms of personality, she is a product of where she grew up and her values are not like mine. There were parts of her emotional landscape that I understood. There is a vulnerability that people go through in their early twenties to find a sense of belonging and identity. This can be whatever group and in this case, it is a family dynamic.”
Medekwa felt the same way and said, “Farleigh was fun to play because he was such a journey away from myself. There was also so much I related to with him such as putting on different personas depending on who is in the room. Feeling like I have to be the entertainer or make everyone laugh as a way to put people at ease with who I am was something I understood. Especially with work, I will be around people who are not similar to me. The feeling of being out of depth and trying to stay afloat Farleigh does pretty well, but he is constantly reminded that he is different. Felix says how different Farleigh is during one scene and that keeps him in check. No matter how many family dinners or birthday parties there are, he will always feel different than the others. I understood that.”
Dinnertime can be challenging as depicted in Saltburn and Medekwa described the atmosphere on the set, “The best thing about Emerald is that she has a no-nonsense policy so there is no disparity between the stars personalities or amount of previous experience. We were all there on the same project and everyone came out of their trailers to eat lunch together. That is a rule that Emerald sets and it immediately breaks down any barriers of shyness or anxiety. There is a certain amount of respect that is implemented early on, which means we can have fun with the scenes. We played card games and we laughed constantly. When we are reunited for a press junket it feels like we are seeing an old friend again!”
Oliver agreed, “Working in that way makes the feeling better and it felt like Rosamund Pike was really my mother. It takes away status so we can pretend and believe in those scenes that this was our family. It was also a privilege to work with such talented people. We inspired each other to do the best we could and everyone was working so hard. We all wanted to rise to the occasion and it was infectious.”
The lavish sets and stunning costuming brought the Catton family to life. Medekwa confessed to taking furniture and a day bed home with him after the project wrapped, “I took so many costumes that I walked out with basically an entire wardrobe.”
Oliver laughed, “Weren't you in head-to-toe Gucci?”
He replied, “Yes, Emerald, Sophie Canale and I crafted it all together. Anytime we bought things Emerald would tell me to take them, so I didn't just steal things. I told the costume shop what I was taking and that it was cleared. I got in my car with a massive pile of Gucci and the producer called to tell me to turn back and return them until the movie came out. I am actually wearing Farleigh's jeans right now. I took a couple of bits and I am patiently waiting for the rest of it. I am not letting them forget it, trust me!”
Saltburn scorches up the small screen as streaming begins on December 22, 2023. Visit amazon.com to take a trip to Saltburn today!