Across the River’s Elizabeth Healey – “I always try and be truthful to the character I’m playing”

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Elizabeth Healey stars alongside Keir Charles in the charming two-handed drama “Across the River”, which has already been creating a buzz at the Manchester Film Festival and East End Festival.

Directed by Warren B. Malone, Across the River is an “ex-love story” about recapturing lost love, following your dreams, responsibility and modern life. Emma has it all as a successful lawyer: Barrister husband, lovely children, and great house in Chelsea. Ryan is trying to build an elephant out of sand on the Southbank. He was her first love; it ended badly many years ago and they haven’t crossed paths since. It’s awkward at first but they then find they have one thing in common: a strike has paralyzed public transport and they need to get to their homes on opposite sides of the river.
On their way they reminisce, argue, cry and laugh. They can never recapture what they had, but the memory of it tempts them. So what now?

We were thrilled to interview Elizabeth about this improvised drama, and also about her other work, which has included Marvel’s Doctor Strange and  Mum’s List.

Firstly, congratulations on the film! We heard that there was some improvisation involved onset. Do you enjoy working with that freedom?

Thank you so much and yes I really did. What is unique about ACROSS THE RIVER is that the film script was completely improvised.  So, although there was some rehearsal before the shoot itself, once we were rolling it was totally up to Keir Charles who played Ryan, and I how the scene played out, so we effectively created the script in the moment, which is why it feels so real and fresh I think. I loved working this way – it was a totally collaborative process from beginning to end and was a brilliantly creative film to be involved in.

Across the River is set in London, and makes wonderful use of the city. If you had an entire day free in London, how would you spend it?

That is a hard one to answer. I do love London – I have lived here for years and I never get bored – but I try to never travel during rush hour!

On my free day in London I think I’d start with coffee in my favourite café, Maison Bertaux in Soho, then a walk down to the South Bank to wander round the Tate Modern for while, lunch from one of the stalls near the National Theatre, or if it is raining a matinee showing at the Curzon Soho and shifting through the old book shops on Charing Cross road. I’d probably end up at early evening at The Groucho Club for a drink with friends.

What we loved about the film was how realistic and subtle it was between the lead characters. You’ve also worked on Doctor Strange, which is a very different type of film! Do you enjoy varying your projects, and what is the appeal to a smaller film in contrast to a bigger one?

Both films are obviously very different in terms of scale and budget but to be honest in terms of what I do my approach to any character is pretty similar – I always try and be truthful to the character I’m playing whatever project I am working on.

Tell us about a film you saw recently and really enjoyed! (It can be old or recent).

I can’t believe I am admitting this but I only recently watched Hitchcock’s Rear Window for the first time and of course loved it. I can’t believe it has taken me all this time to actually see it! It is now in my top 10.

Across the River has been enjoying success on the festival circuit – why do you think film festivals are important in the film industry?

For an independent film like Across The River, festivals are crucial. They provide a fantastic platform for a film to be seen by an audience and reviewed by the film critics – it really allows filmmakers to showcase their film. Plus festivals are great to attend – the variety, genre and style of films that get selected for film festivals you often won’t see anywhere else.

Do you have any unusual skills or talents we might not know about?

I’m pretty good at science and can make furniture out of papier-mâché…

You’ve worked in both TV and film. Do you have a preference, or are the mediums simply different in good ways?

No I don’t really have preference – in TV the pace is often much quicker – but as I mentioned before in terms of what I try to do there isn’t much difference.

What is next for you and Across the River?

ACROSS THE RIVER is continuing to gather momentum and has been officially selected for Blue Whiskey Film Festival in Chicago in August, as is the short film FOR MY NEXT TRICK which I am also in. Mum’s List, with Rafe Spall and Emilia Fox is just out on DVD as is BBC One Of Us. CALEB is another lovely short film that is gathering lots of recognition on the festival circuit plus there is a super project that I can’t talk about yet but hopefully will be able to soon. I wrote and directed my first film recently called THE ANGEL OF HULL so I am busy with the post-production on that too.

Thank you for your time, Elizabeth!

My pleasure, thanks so much for chatting to me.

Across the River will be screening on Monday, August 7th, at the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival. 

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