As a child growing up in the UK, Jeremy Irvine learned so much about the world of author Susan Black’s The Woman in Black. The star of The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death phoned us from England for an exclusive chat about his experiencing joining a world that is utterly legendary in his hoe country.
From the book to the play to the first The Woman in Black film starring Daniel Radcliffe, to say that this work is resonant is to underestimate its power.
Irvine (War Horse) lets us in on a rare treat he got to experience making The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, as well as his favorite horror movies and how being part of this The Woman in Black legacy may be the greatest gift of all.
Movie Fanatic: What’s your history with The Woman in Black? Did you see the film? Had you read the books?
Jeremy Irvine: The Woman in Black is a real big part of our culture in the UK. The book is a huge success. The play is one of the longest running shows in the West End. The first film was the highest grossing movie after Skyfall. We studied it in school. The first movie was wonderful and stuck with me for a long time after I saw it. There is something very haunting about the fact that it’s not just a ghost for ghost’s sake. You know everything about Jeanette Humphrey and why she came back and why she became The Woman in Black. I can feel a lot of sympathy for her for why she does what she does. I think there’ something very haunting about that. It’s very real.
Movie Fanatic: I was struck by how popular and resonant it is in the UK, you just mentioned it in the same sentence as James Bond. Why do you think that is?
Jeremy Irvine: There’s nothing cheap about the story. It feels very believable more than your average popcorn-y horror movie. It’s also about it being a woman. It’s somehow more scary than a man running around with a chainsaw. She’s much more psychologically disturbing to the reader and the audience. Also, the idea of this house that is on this island that can be only be gotten to at low tide. You’re trapped! It’s all really claustrophobic.
Movie Fanatic: When you first read the script for The Woman in Black 2, besides looking at your character, what stood out?
Jeremy Irvine: I felt that if you took the horror element out of this story, it will stand alone in the script as a drama. These characters have a strong backstory and it’s such an interesting period in our history.
Movie Fanatic: You got to do a whole heap of fantastical things in this film. What, for you, was the best?
Jeremy Irvine: I got to spend one entire day just riding around in World War II motorbike [laughs]. They had been looking for an old bike and they found one in the back of someone’s shed, all wrapped up in its original packaging from the Second World War. It had about three miles on the clock! It was beautiful. I spent one day just riding it up and down the roads there. It was extraordinary.
Movie Fanatic: When the movie hits theaters, what do you hope the reaction is? A few jumps, perhaps?
Jeremy Irvine: I hope it speaks to the audience much more than a regular old horror movie. I think it’s so much more than that. I hope it speaks to them much like the first one did. I love how the first one did that and I love how movies do that. I hope people are haunted afterwards. There’s something about horror movies that we know it’s not real. Yet, it can still make us hide behind our hands in the cinema. That’s the power of film, right there.
Movie Fanatic: Your director, Tom Harper, had so many balls in the air, it is just so impressive. What was your takeaway from your time with Tom?
Jeremy Irvine: He was like a little kid on set. That’s a trait that a lot of good directors have, this incredible sense of imagination and they want to play. A lot of times it’s easy to forget when we’re on a set and that we’re playing. We’re just playing make believe.
Movie Fanatic: What are some of your favorite horror movies?
Jeremy Irvine: The Sixth Sense and The Others.
Movie Fanatic: The Others! I’m so thrilled you mentioned that. That is one underrated scary movie!
Jeremy Irvine: It’s brilliant. She is fantastic. When I got to work with her (in The Railway Man), that was one of the things I most treasure about my life is my time with her. And I got to talk to her about The Others. It was brilliant.
See how it all got started and watch The Woman in Black online.