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Interview: Evan Bird talks Maps to the Stars

Though he may be young, Evan Bird is no stranger to acting. The actor, who played Tom Larsen for two years on AMC’s underrated The Killing, is now making his feature film debut in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars. In the film, Bird plays Benjie Weiss, a troubled young actor who has experienced fame at a young age due to the massive success of his film Bad Babysitter. We sat down with Bird to discuss his shocking dialogue, working with Cronenberg, and filming a murder scene.

Scene Creek: What was your initial reaction to the script?

Evan Bird: My dad read it first. I was reading the sides or the audition. I didn’t really do everything myself yet. My dad was just like, “You have to read this script.” So I started reading it and the first thing I saw was the hospital scene, and then I go out and call my agent a “Jew faggot” and tell him to “show me his cunt”. That was the first thing I saw which left me with a pretty good impression. Right when I saw that I decided that it was gonna be a fun thing to do, even if it didn’t turn out well.

SC: How did your parents react to reading that kind of dialogue?

EB: [laughs] My mom was a bit iffy about it, but it’s a job. It’s not who I really am, so it shouldn’t really matter.

SC: What is it like working with Cronenberg?

EB: It’s good. He’s very professional. He knows what he wants. It’s almost as if he sees the whole movie exactly how it should be, every detail, he knows exactly what he wants and he’ll tell you.

SC: Were you drawing on any celebrity personalities when crafting the role?

EB: Yeah, a couple. Because I don’t know them personally, I’m not going to say that they actually are how the media portrays them, but I would say Justin Beiber and Macaulay Culkin. But just what the media says about them. I read a couple articles and watched videos of how they acted around fans and things like that.

SC: There’s a scene in the film where you strangle this little kid. It is one of the many scenes in the film where the audience doesn’t know whether they’re supposed to laugh or be horrified. What was that like to shoot?

EB: We were actually looking forward to that day the entire week before we shot it. He kept telling me how excited he was to be strangled to death. That was a fun scene to shoot. I got to strangle both the little girl and the red head. That was a lot of fun. I like strangling little kids [laughs].

SC: Does the film make you worry about the state of the industry that you have only recently entered?

EB: As David says a lot, I don’t think it’s really about Hollywood. This situation could be set in any business, not just the movie business. It could be set on Wall Street or even the soup business for example. It doesn’t worry me. It’s just a movie.

SC: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

EB: I just spoke to my agent about something that might be happening, Sarah Polly is directing it. It’s called Looking For Alaska and it’s based on a book. I read the book and I think it would be an awesome role to play. It’s about this kid that gets sent away to boarding school and without spoiling it, it goes up to a certain point and then everything just changes. It leads you on to a completely different path than you would expect.

Maps to the Stars is now in wide release in Canada. The film will hit theatres stateside on February 27, 2015.

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.