Evan Williams – Escape Room
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I’m in Paris at the moment finishing up filming the third season of the epic period drama “Versailles,” which has been a dream project. Season Two is airing in the US on Ovation TV now and Season One is on Netflix! Three seasons is the longest I’ve ever explored a role so it’s been fascinating growing with the character.
Q) Please tell us the premise for the film Escape Room and about your character.
A) Escape Room follows a group of affluent young adults who encounter more than they bargained for when they enter an Escape Room and it all goes haywire. I play Tyler, the alpha of the group, whose girlfriend sets up the evening to celebrate his birthday, but she’s mysteriously absent when they find themselves locked in various puzzle rooms. Tyler starts as the magnanimous good guy comfortable in his role as leader of the pack, but when everything starts to fall apart, his true colors begin to show.
Q) Was there anything you added to your role that wasn’t originally scripted for you?
A) I brought my knowledge of the world, along with my judgements, hopes and fears (definitely fears) to meld with the character on the page and create a person that one might encounter in real life. That was the goal anyway. [smile]
Q) What did you find the most challenging aspect of your portrayal?
A) Tyler has a massive ego and is so used to winning that he expects it and it’s easy to judge that in a person. So, for me it was about defending the character and getting into the headspace where I can stand behind his thoughts and actions without wanting to separate myself. Sort of like taking my own prejudices and triggers and dialing them up to 100% and seeing what happens. Chaos usually. The dual challenge was in metering the trajectory of the reveal of the deepest parts of Tyler, knowing where along the path I was in every scene (since we shot scenes out of order, as is common with most films) so it’s a coherent journey and doesn’t come off any more schizophrenic than it should. A horror movie is hard work because the intensity of playing fear and havoc is exhausting after weeks and weeks. It was worth it though. [smile]
Q) Before filming, did you take the time to test yourself in an Escape Room experience?
A) I did an Escape Room in LA so I knew what the gist was. They’re a hell of a lot of fun and also, as in the movie, the experience is entirely dependent on the people you’re stuck in there with. Funny how quickly our polite social etiquette goes out the window. The pressure of the time ticking down brings out the more feral aspects of some people. Delicious learning experience for an actor.
Q) What advice did director Will Wernick provide you during filming that you took to heart?
A) When we first discussed the film, Will said that he wasn’t just trying to make just another B-horror movie. He was interested in the journey that Tyler takes over the course of the film and the way that it related to our society as a whole and where we’re at – the ways we lie to each other and ourselves and the things that force us to tell the truth. That caught my attention. His advice was to follow my gut and that he would always be accessible to me as a resource if I wanted to discuss the finer points. He said if I ever needed another take or to experiment with an idea that was a little more out of the box, then he would always make time for it. That’s rare and I love him for it.
Q) What were some of your most memorable moments from filming the movie?
A) I don’t want to give away what happens, but there are some great practical visual effects in the film that will goose bumps. Shooting that stuff was awesome, to see the all the pieces to come together in an illusion that completely fools the camera. Movie magic. [smile]
Q) What did you personally take away from your experience on the film?
A) Simply that if you have a good idea and are willing to put the work in, you will attract likeminded people and with teamwork and a little inspiration you can surpass your original gambit by leaps and bounds. This movie was a passion project and everybody on board gave it their all. The culture in the set was superb, we worked hard, we problem-solved on the fly and we had a blast. Now, we have a film that we’re proud of, releasing around the world, and we’ve made some friends for life.
Q) You are a part of social media. Are you looking forward to the fan reaction you’ll be receiving?
A) Absolutely, I’m lucky to have fans internationally because of “Versailles” and MTV’s “Awkward” and many people are used to seeing me in one of those two roles. It’ll be cool to show a different side that might rock some expectations as to the types of characters I can embody. Variety is the spice of life! To me, Escape Room really is more of a psychological thriller than a horror film so I think there’s a wider audience than just those looking for a gorefest.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) I’d like to say thank you! I’d like to say it to each person who has ever seen my work and been moved in any way. That’s why we do it. It’s my dream job and I still can’t really believe that I get to do it. All I know is that I’ll keep giving it everything I’ve got, every time. I hope you guys enjoy Escape Room!
Escape Room is now available on Digital and DVD
Watch The Trailer: https://youtu.be/R3q1TsIOcWA