Peter Mullan on his role in Tyrannosaur
From the February issue of Clash.
Unlike most viewers, actor and director Peter Mullan didn’t consider what happened to his character Joseph after Paddy Considine’s short film Dog Altogether which eventually developed into Tyrannosaur. “I didn’t have a clue,” he states in his Scottish accent, as gruff as it is friendly (that is, very).
While the volatile Joseph was the central focus of the short, Tyrannosaur expanded the back story of Olivia Colman’s seemingly content charity shop worker character, now renamed Hannah. “I was so surprised and delighted that the journey he decided to go down was to initially develop their relationship and then look at a middle-class environment and in particular Olivia’s character,” says Mullan. “That lovely element of surprise came about when realising she was, in many respects, in a worse position than he was.”
It soon becomes apparent that these two contrasting characters are much closer than it first appears. “He’s able to express all that rage, anger and self-pity that he has for himself and the world around him, whereas Olivia’s character is completely trapped in bourgeoisie respectability,” he concurs. “They live in completely different worlds but as two souls they have an understanding of one another’s pain.”
While Considine is now making waves as a filmmaker, that wasn’t the case given his status as an unknown director before Dog Altogether. “Personally I always thought Paddy would have it but I didn’t have any grounds to prove it,” states Mullan. “I always felt he had a vision and all the attributes to be a great director. One of the greatest pleasures I get out of it is that it really put Paddy on the map as a director. I would’ve hated to have watched the film and felt so-so about it because he would’ve sensed that in a nanosecond. It was great being able to tell him absolutely honestly that I thought it was an astounding piece of work.”
Now writing his next directorial film about two paramedics who find themselves in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, Mullan laughs at the observation that his recent characters have been responsible for the death of two dogs and the near murder of War Horse’s Joey. He soon shifts to a more irascible stance: “It irritates me when people are getting killed or raped and audiences don’t bat an eyelid, but if you tread on a pigeon or a cat, all hell breaks loose.”