Angela Dixon “I want to see women who are not just painted play things”

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We caught up with Angela Dixon to talk about her latest film ‘Never Let Go’.

Award winning actress Angela Dixon, (Offensive, Dead End), stars in the high-octane international action-thriller Never Let Go, which is now set for a DVD and VOD US release on 22nd August, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Howard J. Ford (The Dead, The Dead 2: India), Never Let Go follows a single mother desperately searching for her missing child in a beautiful, but unfamiliar land, following an apparent abduction. Trusting no one, she takes the law into her own hands, weaving her way through the murky backstreets and barren landscapes, now implicated in the murder of a seemingly innocent man, her connections back in the US begin to reveal that there is much more at stake than first meets the eye.

Angela Dixon, gives a stunning central performance, which has garnered international praise by critics and audiences alike. Her portrayal of a woman who stops at nothing to rescue her child, has been called ‘Oscar-worthy’, ‘a powerhouse performance’, ‘electrifying’, a ‘towering tour de force’ and hailed as ‘one of the strongest and most positive female roles of the cinematic year’. Angela is soon to begin shooting two feature films, Black Site and Homeless Ashes, in which she stars alongside Jason Flemyng and Lew Temple.

Boasting an impressive supporting cast including BAFTA award winning and twice Emmy nominated Lisa Eichhorn (About Time, The Talented Mr. Ripley), Velibor Topic (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Nigel Whitmey (London Has Fallen, Saving Private Ryan) and Rami Nasr (upcoming Murder on the Orient Express, TV’s “The Night Manager”), Never Let Go won Best Independent Feature at the 2016 National Film Awards. It then went on to win Best Director (Ford), Best Actress (Dixon) and Best Film at the 2016 Artemis Women-In-Action Film Festival.

Never Let Go will be available in the US on the 22nd of August via online platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video and Vudu, and by DVD sold exclusively at Walmart. It is currently available in the UK on Netflx, iTunes and Amazon.

Firstly, congratulations on Never Let Go! What initially drew you to this project?

Most actresses would kill for a role like Lisa Brennan! She’s a complex character who has a jourey laced with almost insurmountable obstacles. That’s gold dust for any actor.

One of things I love about Never Let Go is that it shows that women can be heroes. Many dramas focusing on this topic are told from the male perspective. ‘Taken’ and The Missing’ spring to mind. It is so refreshing that we see it from the perspective of an individual who has the strength to do what it takes at any odds to get their child back and she happens to be a woman.

Another draw was that it gave me the opportunity to combine my physical and acting skills. I have always been fit and love combat training and boxing. However, although Lisa needed to have physical skill and strength I didn’t want it to define her as a person. It was crucial in my mind that she was a fully rounded real woman. The balancing act for me was between capturing her strength and her ability to take action with her fragility. She’s a psychologically vulnerable woman, abandoned in a foreign country in horrific circumstances with nobody to help her. The challenge was how do you make a woman in such a heightened state of anxiety displaying some erratic and aggressive behavior sympathetic? Howard and I spoke a lot about the necessity to bring out her vulnerability as well as her strength. That meant in certain scenes I really had to play against the obvious.

Needless to say the other major pull was the fact that Howard was at the helm. I met him in 2011 and have seen his last two movies co-made with his brother Jon. His films are so cinematic and I loved the way he manages to make zombie films that had beauty and meaning. He is a rarity in this industry. Someone who matches creative talent with a genuinely kind heart. If the part of Lisa Brennan was gold dust, working with Howard Ford was like finding a mountain of diamonds.

What we loved about the film was how it really showcased a strong female character. What are your thoughts on how women are portrayed in cinema? What changes would you like to see in future, if any?

It’s an interesting question. A couple of years ago I did some research on the actors at the national theatre. I was shocked at the disparity between male and female roles. Of course the National has a lot of classic works and historically it is the male story and the male voice that we are used to seeing and hearing. Women take up roughly 50% of the population and yet according to the centre for the study of women in television & film in 2016 “audiences were more than twice as likely to see male characters as female characters on screen”.

So in answer to your question I don’t think women are represented enough. All I want is to see parity in story telling. I want to see women who are not just painted play things to be admired by men. I don’t recognize most of the content of women’s magazines. I don’t want to know what colour nail varnish to buy although it can be fun. I am more interested in hearing about women who have excelled, women who have done amazing things, challenged themselves and made a difference in the world.

There is a danger with female action characters that they can be just pale imitations of their male counterparts. My character in Never Let Go is more than just action heroine. She has a mixture of stereotypical male and female energy and she fights in a way that we expect of a man but her journey through the film is a female one and Howard allows the audience to see that. I think that the tide is turning. Gina Davies is leading the way with her Institute on Gender in Media, many prominent women in the business are speaking out and we are beginning to see women have more influence in story-telling across the board. There is still a long way to go but I am proud to be part of that movement towards gender balance.

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

I rewatched ‘Babel’ with Brad Pit and Cate Blanchet the other day. I absolutely love the way it shows the consequences of our actions on a global scale. I’m drawn to the drama that gets me to think, challenges me and moves me – whether it’s to laughter or tears.

What other film heroines do you particularly like?

I love Patricia Arquette in “Beyond Rangoon” – it inspired me to travel to Myanmar when Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest, Jessica Lange in “Frances” and Robin Wright in “Wonder Woman”. What they all have in common is raw determination, vulnerability, and she-lion power.

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

I’m not entirely sure if I have. I took a break from acting a while ago and back-packed by myself in the far east for 4 years (it was meant to be 1 year but I kept on going). I did a number of things that were a little out of the ordinary but not sure if they could be classed as talents! I worked as a Divemaster in Thailand, a Jillaroo mustering cattle on horseback in the outback of Australia, chipped cotton in 40 in degree heat in NSW, busked painting free-hand temporary tattoos, I was the only female laborer on a mining camp – chain-saw operator, forklift truck driver and assisted in the pipeline weld! Amazing experiences.

What is next for you?

I have literally just wrapped an amazing Indie sci-fi action film called ‘Black Site’ by Tom Paton [Pandorica, Redwood] where I play the head of an Alien deportation unit.  She’s a sarcastic, no messing boss lady, which is such fun to play.  Next week I start filming ‘Homeless Ashes’ a British indie feature film created by Marc Zammit, with Jason Flemyng, Lew Temple and Madalina Bellariu Ion.  This time I will be playing an abused wife and mother of a boy who runs away from home.  A very different project but again great to play.  I love my job.

Photo by Joe Alvarez

 

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