TDH: I’m going to have to watch it again!
OJC: It is genuinely one of those shows! Even being part of it, there’s stuff you miss. Last week I watched a couple of episodes for the second time, and there’s stuff I picked up that I hadn’t before, even after reading the script, being there…. There are so many ‘Easter eggs’…hidden within scenes, stuff in the background you won’t realise, but it’ll be a sign of what’s to come, it’s very, very complex – I was constantly in awe. Mike (Flanagan) went through the story, individually with each of us…what happens, how the show will finish…but he was writing as we were shooting.
As you’ve seen in the first five episodes, we go through each sibling’s story, from when they first move into Hill House. And as the series progresses, you see how these stories work together to make the bigger story.
TDH: Have you ever done this kind of character before?
OJC: No, I’ve never played a character like that before. But there was something about the struggle that this person was going through, trying so desperately to function and not being able to and with the best will in the world, trying so hard — if he could just be normal, if everything could just be normal . . .
TDH: I think that’s a very good description of an addict.
OJC: I understood that feeling very well. And also the concept of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), where there is constant fear that something awful is going to happen. So I focused on that, rather than on being believable as a junkie, building on the terror and what he’s running from.
TDH: It’s quite an ensemble piece; how was that?
OJC: Really amazing. In Episode 6, when the family finally come together, we shot it in one take; more than half of an hour-long episode, one steady camera shot, with all of us in and out of frame, constantly reacting. We rehearsed it like a play for three weeks — everything was blocked out, microphones were hidden all around. It was chaotic, but it worked.
TDH: The haunting takes place within the characters as much as it does externally. How do you step away from that?
OJC: I was actually talking about this on the weekend. We shot one scene, in Episode 5, where Luke makes Nell (his twin sister) buy him drugs. Normally I’m able to think, this is a job. But with Luke, I found it harder to come back to myself. I think when you’re digging into stuff that you shouldn’t really be digging in to, and you’re using your own personal stuff, that kind of leaves you with a hangover.
When we finished shooting that particular scene, and I was coming out of the car, Mike said, ‘Great, great, we’ve got it.’ And I got out and I just stood there — talking, making noises, not making any sense. And then I started hyperventilating and flipping out. I was so embarrassed! But there was so much built-up emotion.