Your new movie Eminence
Hill - in a few words, what is it
think itís about morality and the grey areas between good
With your movie being a western - is that a genre at all dear to you, and some of your genre
favourites and inspirations?
are mythic. I think myths are powerful. Genre gives you the
benefit of the audience expecting certain things from a
piece. If youíre a smart writer, youíll be able to use
that framework as an opportunity to surprise them instead of
something that boxes you in.
Other sources of
inspiration when writing Eminence
Coens are at the top of my list for sure. And westerns with
a more realistic, nuanced approach to violence like Clint
Eastwoodís Unforgiven. I loved the way that filmís
characters managed the violence they witnessed or committed.
You've written Eminence
Hill together with your brother Robert [Robert
Conway interview - click here] - so what was your
collaboration like, both during writing and also on set?
had a very clear story laid out from the start so it
wasnít the usual process of bouncing ideas around or maybe
even coming in to write the ending like Iíd done in the
past. It was more like dialogue revisions, certain
structural things. The scene that has most of my
fingerprints on it is one of the last scenes in the film and
itís actually our favorite. Itís a very simple scene
with Carlie Motley and Augie Duke. Carson, Charlieís
character is just sort of wrapping his head around all the
stuff heís seen and this strange journey heís been on.
And thereís just this very human existential fear and
yearning for some kind of connection. Iím not really sure
where that scene came from, a lot of the heavy ideas that
keep me up at night I guess, haha.
also play one of the leads in Eminence
Hill - so what can you tell us about your character, and have you
written Quincy with yourself in mind from the get-go?
was very much Robertís baby. Other than some minor
dialogue revisions, Quincy was entirely written by Robert
and he had a very specific idea of what he wanted for the
character and it was not me, lol. It took a lot of
convincing. We did a series of screen tests and a lot of
back and forth, I knew Iíd convince him eventually, but I
think it may have been tough for him to see me as this
menacing figure because itís very much not who I am in
real life. It was actually him seeing my performance in Irin
Danielís The System that sorta swayed him. But I
also think he saw I was willing to collaborate and take
adjustments and find the Quincy he was looking for, and that
was a real boon for me as an actor because thatís not
something you generally have the time for on an indie film.
To have those sorts of discussions with the director.
did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Owen
Conway can we actually find in Quincy?
little I hope! Lol. I drew on some real life figures. There
was an man by the name of Luke Short, heís commonly
remembered as ďthe Dandy GunfighterĒ. And guys like Wes
Hardin or these other sort of famous old west death dealers.
I plugged into Dick Cheney of all people for the sort of
cold, calculator and the intelligence. Then there were just
great performances I loved. Giancarlo Esposito in Breaking
Bad was a guy I looked at, Day Lewis in There Will be
I tend to leave my personal stuff at the door as an actor
unless itís really going to serve me. Quincy and I are
very different people, so hopefully thereís not a whole
hell of a lot of me in there. Maybe his fashion sense, lol.
Do talk about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
new favorite thing to say is that big films are made by
committees, little films are made by communities. This movie
was always impossible to make and somehow we did it. It was
a coming together of people from all different walks of
life, all different places on the political spectrum, to
make a cool movie and have fun. It was far from easy but the
enthusiasm and the work ethic was always there. Just a great
group of people.
projects you'd like to share?
lot of time in the lab writing as of now. Working with
Robert on a new script. Polishing off a few of my own
pieces. Iíve written a few plays Iíd like to see about
staging one maybe next year.
What got you into acting
in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the
was always what I was gonna do even if I didnít know it. I
did theater camp and certain school stuff, but it wasnít
until actually Robertís first film Redemption, in which I
played a small role, that I really started taking it
seriously. After that, I went to an audition and really
botched it. The casting guy told me I had talent but I
needed training. He recommended Stella Adler in Hollywood.
Then my life changed. I found my place. Very grateful to
Stella Adler Hollywood. I learned to act there and theyíre
still so supportive. Itís really like an extended family
over there - in fact, Louie who plays Cyrus is also a Stella
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
was a lot of colorful supporting stuff. Usually the
ďsketchy guyĒ but rarely any real leads. It was Irin
Danielís putting me in The System that really started
opening up the sort of roles Iíve alway wanted to play.
Very grateful to Irin for that. Since then, the last four or
five roles Iíve played have been these sort of dark,
powerful but broken men, which I find very compelling as an
Only in recent years you have also
branched out into writing - now what prompted that step, and how do you
see yourself as a writer?
written since I can remember, but the hardest part has
always been sharing that writing with anyone. Iím very
self conscious about it. It feels so much more personal and
like the emotional stakes are so much higher than with
acting. Iíve been lucky as I usually donít get bad
reviews as an actor. When my first play I had written went
up a couple years ago, I experienced my first really bad
review and boy oh boy. It stuck with me. Nevermind all the
people who told me they loved the play, it was this one
reviewer hating it that stuck. Itís that old thing of the
comedian focusing on the one guy in the room who isnít
laughing. So itís tough for me, that aspect and probably
why I havenít done more. But I think Iím getting over it
the more I do it. Itís like exposure therapy.
How would you describe
yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters
character is different. For this one, it was a lot of trial
and error and just letting the story wash over me. I tend
not to break things down in a methodical way, as you can get
bogged down in logic circles and you can get stuck on a
choice that maybe isnít right or maybe youíll be asked
to lose. So I try to stay flexible. Above all itís being
true to the character and recognizing that youíre a part
of this bigger story and serving your function in that.
Actors (and indeed actresses) who inspire
still the man. Harrison Ford is very big for me. Tom Hanks.
I think Meryl Streepís probably the best living actor. But
there are so many greats. Iíve been watching the new
Watchmen show and I think Regina King and Jean Smart are
freaking AMAZING. There are so many incredible actors out
there right now.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Your favourite movies?
The Empire Strikes Back, Birdman.
... and of
course, films you really deplore?
With the Wind. Hate that movie.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
on Facebook, on Twitter @owenconway and Instagram
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
think we covered it!
for the interview!