From director/co-writer Mark Palansky, the dramatic mystery Rememory explores the unexplained death of visionary scientific pioneer Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan). With everybody searching for the device he’s invented – which has the ability to extract, record and play a person’s memories – a mysterious man (Peter Dinklage) with questionable motives successfully tracks down the machine and uses it to try to figure out who’s responsible for what’s happened, even if it sends him straight into his own memories.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Henry Ian Cusick (who plays Dunn’s business partner, Robert Lawton) talked about why he wanted to get involved with Rememory, the interesting mix of genres, how he find the experience of collaborating with filmmaker Mark Palansky, deleted scenes, and how we process our own memories. He also talked about how the time jump will change things in Season 5 of his CW series The 100, what he learned from making his directorial debut on the show, and playing a human on Marvel’s Inhumans.
Collider: How did you come to be involved with Rememory? Was this just a script that came your way?
HENRY IAN CUSICK: Pretty much. I was just finishing up The 100 in Vancouver and my manager said, “There might be a role in this thing called Rememory, and Peter Dinklage is in it.” When I heard about Peter Dinklage, I was like, “I will, of course, stay to try to get this role.” He’s such a great actor, and I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones. And then, I met Mark Palansky, who directed it, and I eventually succeeded in getting the role. We shot it very quickly in Vancouver, and it was great.
When you read this script, what was it about the story that must struck you and made you want to be a part of telling it?
CUSICK: I couldn’t put my finger on what genre it was. I was like, “What is this? Is it a whodunit? Is it sci-fi?” The script was a bit different from the final film, but I was a bit intrigued by it. I’ve got another film coming out, called Chimera, which is in that same thing of being neither one thing or another. It’s not sci-fi, but it is sci-fi, it’s futuristic, it’s a whodunit, it’s a character piece, and it brings up interesting questions about memory, which are fascinating. All of those things intrigued me, and that’s why I got involved.
What appealed to you about Lawton, as a character? Did you like the fact that you don’t really know what to make of him or what his motives are? I kept waiting for him to turn out to be the bad guy!
CUSICK: I know! I was watching it with my wife last night, and towards the end, she was like, “You killed him, right?” His motives are that he wants the machine. It’s money-based. He’s the corporate guy who wants the financial rewards, which does happen. That’s his motivation. But I was also trying to figure out the motivation for the Sam Bloom character, and it’s only at the very end, in the final shot, that you realize what happened.
How did you find the experience of working and collaborating with director/co-writer Mark Palansky?
CUSICK: When I first read the script, I had all of these ideas for the character. And then, I went and met with Mark, and we chatted about costume, character, facial hair and hair styles. He was very open. I liked him a lot. Of course, he’s making a movie, so it’s not about Lawton. He had a whole bunch of people to worry about, but he was very, very accessible and gave me a lot of his time. And then, having directed myself since then, I realized that he was very generous with his time.
I felt like there was so much more to learn about Lawton, but I also understand that it would have been hard to follow him home and see what he’s up to, with so much going on with the mystery of it all. Were there any scenes that didn’t make the final cut?
CUSICK: Yes, there were scenes that didn’t make the final cut. There was a scene with me and Peter Dinklage, where I’m looking for the machine. I’ve been chasing Peter Dinklage, and he and Neil were in cahoots together for something. The ending was different, but the ending works really well now. It was a lot more convoluted. There were a lot more red herrings in the original script and they streamlined it down.
When you do a movie like this, how does it make you think about or re-evaluate memory?
CUSICK: If you have a memory from when you were a kid and you remember a happy time, it could be that it wasn’t a happy time because your parents were going through a divorce. And then, you learn about the true memory and you feel duped because you didn’t know that’s what was happening. Two people can be in the same place and have very different memories of the same experience. One might be happy and one might remember it being totally awful.
You made your directorial debut on The 100. What was it like to direct an episode of the show, especially knowing the story and characters so well, and how was it to work with the cast, in that capacity? Did you have to make them listen to you, or were they good about that?
CUSICK: That’s funny! Well, I could tell you stories! I have to say, by and large, the cast were very supportive. Jasper was dying on the show, and I really wanted Devon Bostick to go out on a high. That one scene I had with Monty and Jasper, I really wanted to get that right. That was my most important scene that I really wanted to do justice to. I was happy with that. The scene was actually a little bit longer and there was a little bit more of it, but I had to consider our time restraints. So, I just really wanted to get that scene right, and those two were just a delight to work with. They were so committed.
What are you most looking forward to getting to explore with Season 5?
CUSICK: I’m reading Episode 504, at the moment. We did a time jump, so that’s interesting. We’ve got some new characters arriving. You saw a spaceship land at the end of Season 4, so I’m excited to meet those characters and see who they are and what they bring. I’m getting to read about them just now, so it’s interesting to see what happens. And do we ever get out of that bunker tomb? How did we survive down there? There are some interesting things already happening. The world changes a lot while we’re down in that bunker.
Five seasons into the series, are there still things that surprise you about the story and the character’s journey?
CUSICK: The six-year jump was quite surprising. That was quite a bold move, I thought. That was interesting. We had discussions about not only how we emotionally change, but how we physically change and how our characters change, and some of us change a lot, as you might, if you’re stuck in a bunker or stuck in space, or you’re the only person alive on the ground by yourself. How would that affect you? With a lot of those kids, those are your formative years, between 18 and 25, and people change a lot. For the older ones, like Kane and Abby, we just get older and slower.
Are you planning on directing again soon?
CUSICK: Yeah, I am. I’m directing another episode of The 100. I’m very excited about that. I’m also directing a little short film. Hopefully, I get to do a lot more directing. But, I’ll keep acting because I need to eat.
You’re also going to be on Marvel’s Inhumans. What’s it like to play a human geneticist on a superhero show about the Inhuman royal family? Do you ever get jealous that you don’t have any powers or abilities?
CUSICK: You know, it was a lot of fun. We shot in Hawaii on my hiatus. Of course, I’d love to be a superhero and have superpowers. That would be great fun! But, just being there was a lot of fun. I hope that show goes well. If they had offered me a superhero role, I would have taken it.
Rememory is in theaters and available on Google Play.