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Sylvester McCoy Talks SENSE8, DOCTOR WHO & THE OWNERS [Interview]

By Marina Antunes [09.04.20]


Writer/director Julius Berg's feature film debut is an unexpectedly fun thriller that bucks expectations.


The Owners stars Jake Curran, Andrew Ellis and Ian Kenny as Gaz, Terry and Nathan, a trio of friends who hatch a plan to break into the home of a local wealthy doctor, crack the safe and get away with the loot. It's a full-proof plan: they know when the doctor and his wife will be way, they know where the safe is and they have a safe cracker but the plan starts to fall apart almost immediately. Mary, (Maisie Williams), Nathan's girlfriend, comes looking for him and causing all sorts of trouble, the safe isn't the type that the crew came prepared to crack and just as the would-be thieves come up with a new plan to get the loot, they're faced with the fact that the meek doctor and his wife, aren't exactly as helpless as they appear.


Character actors Sylvester McCoy and Rita Tushingham play the Huggins'. The good doctor will do anything for his mentally ailing wife, with the second half of The Owners taking an unexpected turn; vague on purpose.


We recently had the opportunity to chat with McCoy who, despite a long career in TV, film and theatre, is most widely recognized for his turn as the Seventh Doctor on the long-running "Doctor Who," though of late he's entered other fandoms with roles in The Hobbit and "Sense8." We talked about the longevity of "Doctor Who," the cancellation of "Sense8" and what appealed to him about the role of Dr. Huggins in The Owners.

The Owners will open in theatres and be available on-demand and digital on September 4.

We speak candidly about the movie so beware of spoilers to follow!





Quiet Earth: You've been in countless television, movies and theatre. What do you look for in a role?

Sylvester McCoy: What do I look for? Something unusual, something, you know, just kind of challenging in a way. Yes. Continuously looking for something different. Really. Although I, they all seem to be called the same thing: doctor.

What was it about The Owners that appealed to you?

It was such an interesting journey for the character I was playing. This sweet, loving, old man into, you know, a mass murderer or something like that. The thing is that The Owners is a love story. I mean, he does it for love. He still cares for Rita that whatever Rita wants, Rita gets.

What was it like on the set of such a sort of dark movie? It looks like it was a lot of fun to make.

It really was. I mean, the thing with Rita [Tushingham] is that she's from Liverpool and I think the funniest people in the world come from Liverpool. She's hilariously funny off the screen and we got on like a house on fire and ended up being like a double act.

So when we were doing really nasty things on the set and then coming off, as an antidote, we were off into our double act and the makeup ladies and the wardrobe and everything just thought it was hilarious that we should go on tour. I had never met Rita before but I admired her from afar, so it was great. We had a really good time and the younger actors were really lovely too. There were no egos among them. They were just such friendly and lovely people. It was great. It's a joy to me.



One of the things that makes horror films so great is when they have a glimmer of truth and there's certainly some of that here in the relationship between you and Rita. How do you build your characters and how did you approach this particular character?

I knew from the beginning, that he cares so much for his wife, and that was the basis. In his mind, the most important thing was to make Rita happy. She was, you know, descending slowly into Alzheimer's and this was his way to ensure he didn't lose her. There was a deep tragedy in his love. And then it just goes too far.

We have to talk about some of your previous roles. I know that "Doctor Who" is a very big deal but for me, "Sense8" is the role that I'm really curious about.

Oh, I loved doing "Sense8." I'm glad you enjoyed that. I love it but I'm frustrated at "Sense8" though because when I did the second season, the chief writer said to me "we've got plans for you in the third" and then they canceled the show.

I love traveling and "Sense8" would have been the great joy of my life to have gone all over the world filming as they did. I did get to go to South America and France and Germany. Where else? Paris. God is brilliant.

How did you become involved with that project?

Well, I was just asked to go and see, Ms. Wachowski. The thing is that I hadn't really clicked who this was.

I went along and I met this really lovely, really tall lady, and we got on really well. I mean, for 45 minutes we sat and I learned a bit of a script and after 45 minutes of us just chatting and nattering away I had the part as it were. I went back and I phoned my son and told him that I just got this part that I'm really excited about and he asked who the director was and I told him and he said "Do you know who that is? It's the director of The Matrix!" I didn't know because if I'd have known I'd been very nervous, but I had no idea. I just saw this nice lady.



You've been involved in so many iconic properties and been in so many key roles. If you could revisit one of those roles, which one would you like to go back to?

This might not answer your question directly but I was up for the part of Bilbo Baggins way, way back and they whittled it down to two and over a year into the process I was still there. I was the other one. When Ian Holm got it, I mean, I was amazed. I had no idea who the other one was, but when I discovered that I was in the same company as Ian, I felt very flattered but at the same time, I love to have done Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.

The one role that got away.

Yeah. But I mean, when I got the call about Radagast, Peter Jackson, said to me "This is a bigger role."

And what about The Doctor? I mean, we're now into a totally new generation of "Doctor Who" and you're one of the classic doctors. How has the fandom and the show itself changed over the years?

It has changed in many ways. I think our system was better because we had more time to develop the characters. Whereas the new 20th and 21st century doctors move faster. The positive is that they have much more money to spend on it. It has some great writing on it and it's much faster, but it's still the same in many ways. It's still the same lineage.

I mean, I'm still doing "Big Finish." I don't know if you know about "Big Finish?" It's an audio version of "Doctor Who" that they've been doing now for quite a few years. David [Tennant] has done them, I do them, Colin [Baker], Peter [Capaldi], Tom Baker, Chris [Eccleston]... We all kind of do them on audio and they go around the world. I was back in London a couple of weeks ago, saving the universe all by myself because of coronavirus. There was no one else in the studio.



It sounds like you're still working through this pandemic and I know that you have some projects coming up. What is next for you?

Well, the next thing is coming out is a Christmas film in Scotland called Perfect Strangers. I and Frazer Hines, who was actually one of the early "Doctor Who" companions, play these two old coaches in a bar in the Highlands of Scotland.

I was also supposed to be doing a film with Rob Zombie. I think is a horror-comedy. That's currently been put on hold because of the pandemic but hopefully, it might still happen.

The Owners will open in theatres and be available on-demand and digital on September 4.



Recommended Release: The Owners



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