Have you seen Don McKellar?

5 Questions with John Rhys-Davies, Kara Killmer and Andrew Cheney

Some actors talk about how they find it strange to promote their own films. Not John Rhys-Davies. Speaking to John Rhys-Davies could move mountains. He was as one would expect from the moment we spoke to him by phone from Detroit, where he was promoting the historical faith-based adventure Beyond The Mask. We got along instantly when we mentioned that we had seen him narrating the documentary Raiders! in which he appears and narrates. We mention offhand that two of our friends came dressed in character to the screening, leading to the Rhys-Davies giving a belly laugh and asking “Were they both dressed as Indy?” When he answered in the afffirmative, he replied “Tremendous”.

We spoke with Rhys-Davies, who plays the villainous Charles Kemp and his talented up-coming co-stars Kara Killmer, from Chicago Fire, who plays Charlotte Holloway and lead Andrew Cheney, who embodies William Reynolds whom we spoke to by phone from Los Angeles. Each actor did an amazing job of promoting the film incredibly well. This is the rare film to take the entire family and each will get something positive out of the experience.

Scene Creek: What attracted you to the role?

John Rhys-Davies: I think it’s a darn good adventure. I like the idea of movies that are accessible to the whole family. When you have children, it is nice to see that there is nothing horrible or…disgraceful happening on camera. And is it that. It’s a real swashbuckling adventure, set in that great and glorious period of history, the Revolutionary War.

Kara Killmer: This is a great time for the heroine. I think that people really enjoy a story being told at an important time in American history. That is a part of what makes it so much fun. You have to be listening and watching to whole time, to catch the nuances and historical references. It’s fun to see all of the historical and story elements come together.

Scene Creek: Do you enjoy playing a villainous role?

John Rhys-Davies: A villain? Sir, how can you possibly construe a man who is loyal to King George and the profit motive and merely wants to put the rebels in their proper place? The colonies back to their proper ownership. It is not I that lead rebellions, it is the fiendish colonists.

No, it’s great fun. It is the most glorious period in some way in American history. I mean, when you think of the giants on the earth in those days: Washington, Madison, Franklin, any age that can have one of those is a fortunate one, but to have that confluence of those geniuses together, just extraordinary, isn’t it?

Franklin is such a blessed man. He is so fortunate and so wise. Of all those characters, a book by F.L. Lucas, a most felicitous writer. His conclusion is that of the great eighteenth century minds, possibly the most blessed and the most canny is Franklin, who is at the forefront of the intellectual exploration and leadership of his time and at the same time a happy and decent man.

Scene Creek: What did you think of your co-stars?

Andrew Cheney: (of John Rhys-Davies) The guy’s a legend, man. It was an honour to work with him. Talk about a guy who’s just really generous on set. Not pretentious and an entertainer at heart. Words to encourage within the scene, and a giving actor.  Kara and I spent most of the time together, getting to know each other. Extremely talented girl, very generous. It was a communal atmosphere, everyone was really giving.

Scene Creek: What is so unique about this picture?

Kara Killmer: It’s kind of one of a kind right now, breaking some barriers. This is the complete package: you’ve got action, adventure, romance and people keep saying that the message does not beat you over the head, you know, it’s very subtle.

Scene Creek: What does the title mean to you? This is a great time for the heroine.

John Rhys-Davies: The title Beyond the Mask is a very apt one for our age. For our age that constantly broadcasting an image and revising it, tweeting it, Twittering it, editing its Wikipedia profile. Yet to find our true essence, our true substance, of who we really are, is a perennial exercise, but one that we can miss out on very readily in a pithy age.

This is a secular age, with a great willingness to abandon any sort of spiritual message. If you’re a serious filmmaker, and you do want to make the point about behaviour or ethics or morals, the last thing you want to do is preach. And yet all the great fables, all the great stories, all those marvelous books, pictures that we know of, they’re really about good and evil.

Aesop’s Fables begin with telling a story about virtue or character, and they work because they’re interesting stories. I regard this film as a tribute to the filmmakers, and also a bold and brave and significant step of making films that are free of a morally vacuous point. I love independent film-making. And I love independents who use their heads and their hearts. To try to raise questions and entertain us at the same time.


Beyond the Mask is in Canadian theatres this Friday, August 14th.