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Interview With Supernova Writer & Director Harry Macqueen

It Was An Incredibly Moving Process For All Of Us

30th June 2021
Harry Macqueen on the set of Supernova. Photo by Chris Harris. OC Movie Reviews

Now that the cinemas are open and luckily have stayed open for a while now, we can experience movies again as we should. We all know that the big screen undoubtedly has an emotional impact on the audience, and we’re pretty sure that the strong, big and bold emotions in “Supernova” will hit you even harder.

This latest movie by writer/director Harry Macqueen tells the heart-breaking story of a couple dealing with dementia. While “Supernova” could have been an ordinary and regular movie, the stunning performance of both Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth turned it into an extraordinary one. We were lucky enough to have a virtual sit down with Macqueen to talk about the inspiration of “Supernova”, the champagne casting and his passion for filmmaking.

Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Harry, congratulations on your stunning new film “Supernova”, which you wrote and directed. Where did the story for this movie come from?

Harry Macqueen:  Thank you. The film was inspired by the people I was privileged to spend time with during my lengthy research period. The story itself was my attempt to do those people and their experiences justice in an original, intimate way.

LV: Why did you decide to integrate the beautiful road trip aspect into this movie?

HM: Partly because I didn’t want to make a relationship drama in the way most are presented, it seemed original and cinematically exciting to get the story on the road. I’m a big fan of road movies and road trips in real life. There is a freedom to it all and a chance for the environmental journey to mirror the emotional one.

LV: The cast in this film is extraordinary as both Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci give phenomenal performances. They’re just spectacular as the on-screen couple. How did the casting process for “Supernova” go?

HM: It was weirdly easy. Stanley loved the script, and we met and got on well. I’d always wanted to cast two actors who knew each other if possible, and he suggested his best mate, Colin. What I hadn’t realised is that he had already given him the script! Happily, Colin loved it just as Stanley had.

LV: During this movie, you take the audience through breathtaking scenery, mainly at Lake District. What was it about Lake District that made you want to film there?

HM: I wrote some of it whilst staying up there with family. So the landscape informed the writing from very early on. But you never know if you are going to be able to work in the places you originally intended, so it was a privilege that we managed to. The Lake District is so unique and varied. It seemed that if we were smart, we could harness all its charm, beauty and drama to serve the story. It’s quaint but also intimidating, which is what we were looking for.

LV: Does being an actor and probably also a cinemagoer make it easier for you to put yourself into the leading characters’ shoes and to make sure that as a director, you get all the emotions right on paper and on-screen?

HM: I think it helps a great deal being an actor too. Character is everything for me when I begin a project. I try and write interesting, complex, surprising characters – ones I would like to play myself, I suppose! It also helps when working with actors, of course. Being an avid cinemagoer is very helpful too. My taste in cinema is very broad. I’m inspired by so many filmmakers.

LV: Many of the scenes are solely based on body language and not so much on dialogue. Were there any moments during the shooting you just let the camera roll to see even more touching moments happening that weren’t scripted?

HM: I try and do that always. Cinema is a visual and aural medium. Telling stories without words is its unique form. The nature of ‘silence’ is hugely important to my work.

LV: Making such a touching and immersive movie about dealing with terminal diagnosis has undoubtedly an impact on every on-set cast and crew member. So how did you make sure it never became too emotional overpowering?

HM: It was an incredibly moving process for all of us. We all knew we were working on something important. That makes a huge difference. I think we all just got along so well and looked after each other, so it never became too overpowering. There were some heavy moments, though. It also helps that Stanley, Colin and I like a laugh.

LV: To enhance the moving and touching moments in this movie (which is the entire film), music is even more important than ever. For this film, you used Keaton Henson’s music. How did the collaboration start, and what was it about his work that made it perfect for “Supernova”?

HM: I’ve been a huge fan of his for years but didn’t know he was making film scores. This is, in fact, his first. He always makes such heartfelt, personal work. It felt ideal to have someone so emotionally engaged for this. His work on the film is a marvel.

LV: If looking back at making this movie, what was the most poignant scene for you?

HM: There were many. In a funny way, the final one as it was the last thing we shot. To finished with Colin playing the piano to us all was very touching.

LV: Did creating this film make you think about your own life?

HM: It’s very hard not to with this kind of subject matter. It’s actually an integral part of the process, I think.

LV: What do you hope that people will take away with them after watching “Supernova”?

HM: That’s not for me to say, but the film is obviously about some important issues, and I hope audiences think more about those.

LV: This is your second feature as a director, but you’ve been an actor for many years. Where did your passion for filmmaking and acting come from?

HM: My uncle is an actor, so I think my interest in performance comes from him. And I just love films, I suppose!

LV: Do you already have other projects you’re working on at the moment?

HM: Yes. And hopefully, someone will pay me to make one! ha!

Read our review of “Supernova” here and our first review here.

A special thanks to the Studiocanal PR team and Harry Macqueen for setting up the interview so quickly. Photo credit: Chris Harris.

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