Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Kerry Condon combines love of cinema and water in supernatural thriller ‘Night Swim’

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — One of the reasons Kerry Condon wanted to dive into “Night Swim” was the water.

“I was always interested in doing swimming on-camera and combining those two great interests for me,” Condon, an accomplished swimmer who swam competitively as a child, says. “I am a good swimmer and I wanted to show my physicality. I love water in movies and I think filming in water is beautiful, so I wanted to be a part of that and learn more about it.”

Another major reason was the genre. “I thought this was a great opportunity for me that I’d never done a horror movie before, and I’ve always wanted a career that would allow me to be a character actress in every kind of genre,” shares Condon, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in the comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Condon was also a recurring character in the critically acclaimed drama “Better Call Saul” (a Breaking Bad spinoff).

In “Night Swim”, based on McGuire’s acclaimed 2014 short film of the same name, Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) is a former major league baseball player forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness. Secretly hoping, against the odds, to return to pro ball, Ray persuades his wife, Eve (Condon), that their new home’s shimmering backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids (Amélie Hoeferle and Gavin Warren) and provide physical therapy for him. But a dark secret in the home’s past will unleash a malevolent force that will drag the family under, into the depths of inescapable terror.

“On the day I met Kerry, she had been nominated for a Golden Globe for ‘Banshees of Inisherin’ and swam a mile in the ocean that morning – not a bad day,” director Bryce McGuire says. “She had to do some really demanding underwater work, especially late in the movie, that most people simply would not have been able to do. She’s an extremely tough and physical actor. Something special happens with Kerry every time the camera rolls. She really pushed me and the material, and she’s fantastic in the movie.”

Condon enjoyed working with McGuire as well. “Bryce knew a lot about the genre and that was important to me because I hadn’t done something like this before,” she says. “He had a lot of references and wanted it to be character-based, which appealed to me. A lot was riding on Bryce, and he gave it everything. He was also always open to collaboration, which was great. I have worked with directors in the past that didn’t want to listen to other suggestions, but I believe that the best idea should win, doesn’t matter who gave it and Bryce felt the same.”

‘Taking control of my fears’

“The children were great!” Condon further shares of Hoeferle and Warren, who play her character’s children.

To Hoeferle, who here plays 15-year-old Izzy and who first captured Hollywood’s attention with an award-winning horror short, “The Boogeywoman”, horror vibes come easy. “It's funny that I keep getting drawn into these scary stories, I find it amusing,” Hoeferle says. “I used to be an anxious child. I still am in some ways. I used to fear a lot of things. So doing horror movies is a way of taking back that fear and taking control of it.”

Despite her experience in the genre, reading the script for “Night Swim” proved to be a chilling experience. “When I first got the script, I was so scared reading it,” Hoeferle says. “It was night, the lights in my house were dim, and I remember reading it at my desk and feeling like someone was behind me. Just in general, the script captures that scary feeling that there’s something lurking in the shadows, hunting you, and more specific to the movie, it captures that dread you feel when you’re in the water, whether it’s the ocean or in a pool, and you let yourself wonder: Is there something underneath me? It’s such a potent, primal fear.”

The role of 12-year-old Elliot was the toughest to cast, according to director Bryce McGuire. Luckily, they found Warren, who is “an absolute fish, an amazing swimmer who loved the water,” says McGuire.

But the water work wasn’t always easy for Warren, especially if the scenes involved interacting with the pool’s ghoulish entities. “Whenever Elliot goes into the pool, things get creepy,” Warren says. “He seems to be able to see the weird, monstrous things that haunt the pool that no one else can. But for me, seeing these monsters was rather scary, because the make-up on them was so good. I did not want to get in the water with them.”

Warren’s experience in the post-apocalyptic world of “Fear the Walking Dead” served him well. “I had an awesome time making this movie,” Warren says. “I love scary movies and TV shows, and I love doing them, whether it’s doing scenes with monsters or getting dragged around by them. I love doing my own stunts, when they let me.”

Dare to take a dive in “Night Swim”, now in Philippine cinemas.

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