who’s watching oliver

Chilling Out

Russell Geoffrey Banks


Chilling Out is where TrunkSpace talks all things horror and genre with those who work in the projects that give us the thrills and chills to keep coming back for more. This time out we’re talking with Russell Geoffrey Banks whose latest film “Who’s Watching Oliver” continues to create waves amongst horror fans, due in large part to his gripping performance as the mentally unstable Oliver.

We sat down with Geoffrey Banks to discuss the dark places that he had to go to, how he is surprised by the positive reception that the film has received, and why he isn’t worried about getting pigeonholed in the horror genre.

TrunkSpace: Does playing a character like Oliver force you to go to a dark place in your mind at times, and on those particular dark days, is it hard to leave that emotional heaviness on set?
Geoffrey Banks: Yeah. Definitely. Oliver was definitely a dark one for me. I’ve done a few other characters, like in the first film I did called “Goodnight, Glory.” That one had, again, kind of a dark character. And then “Cam2Cam” was about a serial killer.

I guess different actors do it different ways, but for me, you’re trying to put yourself in the worst possible place ever in those moments. And then afterward… for sure, it took a little bit of time to get my head right.

TrunkSpace: It also seemed like you had to strike a balance between the very dark side of Oliver and then the side with the childlike vulnerability that was attached to him?
Geoffrey Banks: Definitely. And I’ll tell you, when we were shooting it… the first part we shot was without Sara (Malakul Lane) and then she came in near the end of the film. And when she came in it was a real nice break because we had been doing all of the dark stuff up until that point and to be honest, I needed that time to do the nice stuff just to get my head right because it felt like we were just forever in a room killing people and doing dark stuff. Without a doubt, it definitely helped to have her come at that time to get my head right.

TrunkSpace: Strictly from a performance standpoint, what was the most difficult scene you had to shoot?
Geoffrey Banks: I’d say the rape. For sure. Kelly Woodcock… I had already known her for a really long time before, but that was without a doubt such a hard day. And surprisingly enough, it was one when it kind of hit me at that moment as being hard. Before that, I was just like, “Oh, it’s acting. This is going to be fine.” And then when we started shooting, it was like, “Jesus… fuck this is quite intense.” That was a hard day. I’d say, without a doubt, the rape scene with Kelly was probably about the hardest day to shoot.

You’re doing it and you’re in this character and you’re playing it and then you’re going ahead and you’re doing it, and then all of a sudden your brain is telling you, “Jesus, what the fuck am I doing?” That was the first rape scene I had ever done and it was definitely the hardest.

TrunkSpace: When you have to go to those dark places in a film, do you question the commitment and having to go there knowing that the film is an independent production and has the possibility of never being seen by an audience?
Geoffrey Banks: No. To be honest, that didn’t cross my mind. I had no idea if it would do well or not, but at the time… I don’t know, you just get into the character and you’re just going on emotions more than anything, I guess. I wouldn’t say that the whole independent film thing was a factor in my mind at all in those periods. I think if it had been a massive film, I would have felt exactly the same way. We know what’s right and what’s wrong in life.

But that was one of the main things, which I could always tell myself was… Oliver is very much a victim and he’s being forced to do that. His mother is forcing him to do that and that was the logic that I could put myself in. This is a guy who had a lot of mental abuse and physical abuse over the years and he’s being forced to do it.

It comes to mind with an old film called “Bad Boy Bubby.” That’s a similar type of thing. He’s a guy who’s very mentally unstable and put into a situation where he doesn’t feel like he’s got control. So I think you just suck up and go there.

TrunkSpace: We read one review of the film where the reviewer said something along the lines of it being difficult to believe that you were not that “mentally unhinged” character in real life. Do you take that as a compliment for your acting abilities and at the same time, as something that kind of gives you pause?
Geoffrey Banks: Well, nobody knows me, but if this does well, then everybody’s going to find out about all of the real bad stuff I did.

I’m joking. That was a terrible joke. (Laughter)

Russell Geoffrey Banks in “Who’s Watching Oliver”

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It does seem like the film is getting a great reception, particularly from fans of the horror genre.
Geoffrey Banks: We’ve been blessed. I’ve been really surprised with the reviews. It’s a little film and when you’re filming it you don’t expect it. To be honest, I was more worried that everybody would… because you go into character, you do this stuff, and you make it as real as you can. It messes you up a little bit in your head when you do that stuff, but then you have no idea how it will do. I was worried. “Oh my God. They’re going to hate me and think that I’m this serial killer rapist.” So, seeing the reviews, I’ve just been blown away. I couldn’t believe it. If you had told me that when we were filming, I would have said no way.

TrunkSpace: And you have won a number of awards for your performance as Oliver.
Geoffrey Banks: Yeah. Again, I couldn’t believe it. And it’s been really nice with Margaret (Roche) as well. It’s funny… if you ever met the mother, you would never believe it’s the same woman. (Laughter) People say that about me being different, but if they met her… she’s this little religious old woman. They would never believe it. Jesus, you wouldn’t believe it’s the same person.

So when she got an award, that meant a lot as well.

TrunkSpace: Just about an hour before we chatted we took a look at one of the YouTube channels that has posted the trailer of the film and it was up to over 400,00 views. When will those 400,000 people be able to see the film outside of the festival circuit?
Geoffrey Banks: To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m hoping that it gets sorted and everything, but it’s film. We’re in those days when it’s harder. It’s not easy to sell films and it’s not easy to get people to watch your films. Again, that’s why it means so much that we’ve been getting these reviews because it has been unexpected.

Hopefully it releases soon.

TrunkSpace: If the film goes wide and becomes a cult horror hit, which seems possible based on the feedback so far, would you be comfortable being labeled in that cult horror genre knowing that it could pigeonholed you as an actor?
Geoffrey Banks: I’m going to give you the real response and not the one that is made up and what I should give you.

Dude, I’ve done a million jobs. I’ve worked minimum wage. I’ve done every single thing in the world. I’ve grown up on horror films. I’ve grown up watching a million films. If somebody ever told me that I could be an actor and pay my bills, I wouldn’t care.

Fuck, if something does well, that’s amazing. That’s what you want. That’s what we’re after. And with being pigeonholed… the fact is, if something does well it does well. I could work my whole life and do a million films and nobody could ever watch them… because that’s where we’re going. We’re going into that thing where films don’t make money. It’s getting harder. Just to get some attention… and this is why the awards and everything means a lot.

I’d like to play it cool and I’d like to give it the James Dean approach, but no… it means the world if people write nice stuff about you. It’s the same with any actor. Everyone will lie and try to play it cool, but we’re all liars. We love it. (Laughter)

Read our exclusive interview with Russell Geoffrey Banks’ “Who’s Watching Oliver” costar Sara Malakul Lane here.

read more
Chilling Out

Sara Malakul Lane

Photo By: Matthew Comer

Chilling Out is where TrunkSpace talks all things horror and genre with those who work in the projects that give us the thrills and chills to keep coming back for more. This time out we’re talking with Sara Malakul Lane whose latest film “Who’s Watching Oliver” is scaring the pants off of festival goers all around the world.

We sat down with Malakul Lane to discuss the emotional heaviness of the film, her costar’s performance, and how the Kickboxer franchise has impacted both her career and personal life.

TrunkSpace: How did you become involved in “Who’s Watching Oliver?”
Malakul Lane: I had worked with Russell Geoffrey Banks on a movie at the end of 2015 and he mentioned that he had a script and asked if I was interested. Russell is one of the best actors I have ever worked with. I learned so much from him and was so inspired, so I jumped at the opportunity to work with him again, especially on a script that he co-wrote.

TrunkSpace: The film is a dark ride with lots of deeply wounded and complicated characters. From an acting standpoint, did you worry about delving into that world and having some of that emotional heaviness stay with you?
Malakul Lane: I was actually feeling very emotionally fragile (due to some personal issues) while we were filming the movie so it was kind of cathartic in way to have to go to those places every day and immerse myself in such dark, heavy material.

TrunkSpace: What was the most difficult scene you had to shoot in terms of where you had to go emotionally?
Malakul Lane: I am good friends with Russell so we felt at ease with each other, so even though he was in character a lot of the time, I didn’t feel threatened in any way and the vibe on set was fun and lighthearted despite the kind of movie we were making.

TrunkSpace: A lot of times independent films can be shot, but then linger in post-production and then possibly never see the light of day. Is that something you think about when signing on to star in a film like “Who’s Watching Oliver” where the content itself is heavy and could be difficult on you emotionally as well as physically?
Malakul Lane: I respond to the creative side of things and don’t really worry about the business aspect. If I love the script and the people involved and it works with my schedule then I usually don’t go into the details of when/how its getting released. It’s not my problem. I don’t really have any aspirations to be a producer so once my job is done I let it go and hope for the best, hope that people see the movie and respond to it in kind.

I think part of the job of an actor is to take on the emotional baggage, to go to those dark places and feel icky, and I personally enjoy it and find it healing. It’s not that fun during the process, but I always learn from it, and since I have been doing it awhile, I have ways to cope when things get too heavy.

TrunkSpace: The film has been getting rave reviews and winning a number of awards as it circulates throughout festivals around the world. Is it surprising to see how well of a reception it has received thus far?
Malakul Lane: I am always happy and surprised because you just never know how people will respond. There’s been times when I am on a set and everyone is convinced we have a hit and when the movie comes out no one watches it, so I have learned to have low expectations. With Oliver, I did have a good feeling because Russell’s performance was just so magical and the script was really raw and original.

TrunkSpace: Is accepting roles a risk/reward scenario? In that we mean, does an actor/actress need to take risks in the roles that they take on in order to propel their career forward?
Malakul Lane: Like I mentioned earlier, I never think in terms of “propelling my career forward.” I read a script and I research the people involved and I always make the decision with my heart and not my head. Maybe I would have a different career if I used my head and strategized more, but that is just not my philosophy. Life is short. I have to know that I am going to have a good experience on a film. I have to have some sort of visceral response to the material otherwise in my mind there is no point. There always has to be a strong, heartfelt “WHY” behind each decision I am making.

TrunkSpace: With that in mind, what is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken in your career?
Malakul Lane: I’ve definitely taken a lot of risks, in life and in my career choices. If I wasn’t a little risky there is no way I would have left Thailand and moved to LA… I would still be doing Thai soaps, which isn’t a bad choice but it wasn’t the life for me. I think comfort is the enemy to growth so when things feel little too comfy I tend to shake it up because I always want to be growing, as a person and as an artist. In terms of risky movie choices, “Jailbait” was definitely one, but it was a great experience and I learned a lot from it… but there were definitely times during the shoot that I felt extremely uncomfortable and I whispered “whatthefuckamIdoing” to myself.

TrunkSpace: You’ll soon be returning to the Kickboxer franchise in “Kickboxer: Retaliation.” What can you tell us about where Liu will be going in terms of her story and arc?
Malakul Lane: I am really looking forward to “Kickboxer: Retaliation” coming out. The cast was so phenomenal, and some of the actions sequences are just mind blowing. My character Liu is now married to Kurt Sloane. She has an unfortunate run in with “The Mountain” and without revealing too much, gives Kurt Sloane a reason to kick some serious ass.

TrunkSpace: Kickboxer is an iconic action franchise. Is there another iconic franchise, from any genre, that you’d like to be a part of?
Malakul Lane: I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Kickboxer franchise. It’s been a wild ride and everyone involved has become family. There’s so many great franchises out there, I don’t have a particular one that I would want to be a part of, I just take the opportunities as they come.

TrunkSpace: Throughout the course of your career, what project had the biggest impact on you from an acting perspective and what project had the biggest impact on you in terms of your personal life?
Malakul Lane: Definitely the Kickboxer franchise has had the biggest impact both personally and professionally. It expanded my fanbase because its such an iconic brand and to be able to work side by side with incredible athletes such as GSP, Mike Tyson and Alain Moussi was inspiring and life changing. And both movies were filmed in my home town of Bangkok so it has been nice to come home every year, hang out with my family and make a cool movie. I hear rumblings of a third one happening soon…

TrunkSpace: When you look at your career moving forward, what would you like to accomplish? Do you have bucket list items that you want to check off in your career?
Malakul Lane: I don’t like to separate my career and my life. I have life goals/bucket lists as opposed to just career ones. I want to finish my degree in psychology, learn a new language, travel the world and make a few more cool action movies.

Malakul Lane in “Who’s Watching Oliver”
read more
CBD Products