The Caller is a chilling and creepy supernatural thriller about a young troubled divorcee that is being obsessively harassed via telephone by a mad woman who insists she is calling from the past. When Mary Kee (Rachelle Lefevre) begins to receive mysterious phone calls from a woman named Rose (Lorna Raver), she questions the woman’s honesty and motives. As the phone calls become more and more disturbing, Mary’s terror escalates and she cuts all contact with the voice on the other end of the line, leaving Rose enraged and threatening to exact revenge, not on Mary in the present, but on Mary as a child in the past. After learning some of Rose’s history from George (Luis Guzman), whose family has been at the apartment since her time there, and with the help of John (Stephen Moyer), who’s trying to make sense of what’s going on, Mary realizes that she has to kill Rose in order to save herself, but has no idea how to stop someone living 30 years in the past.
During an exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Stephen Moyer talked about being struck by the old filmmaking traditions in The Caller, shooting his role in just nine days, what the location of Puerto Rico added to the mood of the already eerie story, and how astonishing and mesmerizing he found his co-star Rachelle Lefevre’s performance. He also talked about what his True Blood character, Bill Compton, has learned from everything he’s had to go through this season, how he’s really enjoyed developing the bond between Bill and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), how the show always keeps him guessing, and that he’s going to do a low-budget thriller with Radha Mitchell, called Evidence, before starting Season 5 of the HBO vampire series in December. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: How did this film come about for you? Did you just read the script and respond to it, or did they approach you about doing it?
STEPHEN MOYER: I was approached, asking if I would be interested in being a part of it. So, they came to me and I read the script, and I felt like it was just such a tight little story that really is in the tradition of old filmmaking, making stuff happen in the camera. I was just really taken with it. Before I decided whether I was going to do it or not, I spoke to Matthew Parkhill, the director, and I was so taken with his vision and what he wanted to do. I’d literally had a nine-day window in my schedule that November, so they managed to fit all my stuff into nine days. I flew into Puerto Rico, and we crammed it all in, in nine days.
What was it like to film in Puerto Rico? Did the location heighten the mood for you?
MOYER: I think so. We’ve never really seen the way that it looks, with that ‘50s room that she’s in. A lot of the apartment buildings are like that. And, I thought the cemetery scene was particularly evocative. We all think of Puerto Rico being this beautiful, sunny, hot island, and yet there it is, and it’s wet and it’s grey. It looks quite austere, somehow. I thought that really came across in the film. The city of San Juan almost becomes a character, in itself. It’s not like anything that you usually see.
What was it like to work with Rachelle Lefevre and watch her go through such intense emotions?
MOYER: I had no real knowledge of Rachelle, going into the job, so I didn’t really know who I was going to be meeting. But, oh my god, she came in and was so unbelievably committed and driven. It was amazing! I watched the film and thought, “Fuck!” The audience is just with her from that first moment, right until the end. You really care about her, and you’re also thinking, “Is she out of her mind? Is she bi-polar? Is this real? It feels real!” I really think she makes you go through the gamut of emotions. It’s an astonishing performance. I really think this should propel her to a completely different place. I thought she was mesmerizing. It’s just a wonderful performance.
MOYER: That’s a good question. Wow, I don’t know. I tend to look at the material as new, every time I do it. It’s one of those things where, as an actor, you have to approach it as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. I happen to work on a show (True Blood) that’s quite surreal and has a lot of odd shit in it. My character in The Caller is very normal. He’s an ordinary dude, in extraordinary circumstances, so he’s seeing it for the first time. I don’t think there’s a method or a way to do it. You have to approach it as if it’s new, every time.
I really like the idea that you come to the end of the film and you’re still not sure whether it’s in Mary’s head, whether it happened, whether it’s something she experienced when she was a child that she blocked out, whether it’s a metaphor, whether George (Luis Guzman) and John were real in her life, whether she imagined them, whether they’re imaginary friends that she needed around her to feel better, whether John was a friend of hers at school who died or went missing. You can just go on and on and on.
What I loved about it is that you’re going to be able to leave the cinema and just go, “Holy shit!,” and spend more time talking about it. We’ve all debated what it’s about, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. I think that’s an amazing thing because every single person has a different view. I want to leave the theater and be thinking about what just happened and be talking about it. I don’t to just go, “Oh, that was good. Now, let’s eat shrimp.” I want to think about what I’m putting my mind through. I think True Blood does that. Everyone dissects it afterwards, don’t they? They said, “Fuck, did you see that?!” That’s the kind of stuff that I want to be a part of.
MOYER: I think he’s had to learn very quickly from being in this position. It’s not necessarily a position that he would have put himself in voluntarily. I’m sure people have different views of this, but I don’t think Bill wanted to be king. I think he had nothing left. He lost Sookie (Anna Paquin) last year, and the only thing that he had left was really Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). For me, what’s been really great to play this year is the relationship with Jessica, and that father-son type of stuff. We always love working together. Me and her have a real bond, and I love that.
And, this position of power and having to make decisions that you don’t necessarily want to make is always good conflict and good drama. He has to do things that he doesn’t want to do, but knows are going to be for the best, even though they might not necessarily have the best fall-out. That’s been one of the interesting things for me to do. Ultimately, being a politician ain’t fun.
Is one of the great things about True Blood, for you as an actor, the fact that the show always keeps you guessing and never having to play the same thing, from season to season?
MOYER: One of the great things about Alan [Ball] is that he’s never going to have me repeat something. I am always, constantly in a position where I get to do new things, and that’s just amazing. How many people can say that? There are lots of procedural shows that I love, but I never really wanted to be a doctor on E.R. – which I’m just picking as an example – or be on a crime procedural. Getting to do True Blood, you literally don’t know what you’re going to be doing, from one week to the next – fucking your great-granddaughter, or breaking somebody’s neck while you’re fucking them. It all tends to do with sex, somehow.
Do you have anything lined up for this hiatus, or are you looking to just take some time off?
MOYER: I actually wanted to take a break. I had a couple of things, but I decided that I was going to go on vacation with my kids. So, that’s what I did for the first month of my hiatus. I’ve been doing press for the last couple of weeks. I’m going back to London now, to do more press. And then, I come back in the beginning of September – I think on September 5th – and I’m doing a small film, called Evidence, with Radha Mitchell. It’s another little thriller that’s pretty low budget, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a very, very well written, beautifully constructed little thriller, which I’m not going to tell you anything about, even if you force me. I’m excited about that.
When do you start Season 5 of True Blood?
MOYER: We usually start around December 1st.