With multiplex films like Godzilla vs Kongor Holmes & Watson, actress Rebecca Hall is often a distinguished presence, a reassuring face in front of a much larger screen. But then there are those Miscellaneous movies—Christine, the night house, and now, resurrection– where Hall becomes a pure avatar of fear. These are characters in danger of being completely engulfed by a void, and as an actress, she doesn’t look back and steps in with full commitment (and a dash of biting wit).
in the resurrection, Hall taps into that streak of intense emotion to play Margaret, a biotech executive and single mother to a teenage daughter (Grace Kaufman). Everything is going smoothly until a man from a very troubled previous relationship, David (Tim Roth, the picture of the unctuous menace), keeps showing up in her life. Margaret tries to resist being drawn into David’s sadistic web while maintaining a tight grip on her family life.
“She brings a real sense of dignity to all of her characters. She’s just so amazing,” Andrew Semans, the director of resurrection, told me. Her unpredictable film follows Margaret to the limit, adding a touch of surrealism to the stalker-adjacent story. It’s another triumph for Hall, who also wrote and directed the film last year passfrom the 1929 Nella Larsen novel set in Harlem. Below, she talks about the pull of the new film’s deep unease, inspirations from Greek mythology and the theater, and her character’s haunting seven-minute monologue.
How did your participation come about? resurrection and what attracted you to his story?
I think it hit me at a very specific moment. I had just changed [shooting] on pass, but hadn’t done any editing or post-production yet. But I didn’t feel, “Wouldn’t it be nice, after this intense experience, to lead something, to do something low key and not very pushy?” I had the complete opposite reaction. I said, ‘Well, when I do acting, I want it to be as fulfilling as this experience I just had. So it has to be something big.” You know, the extreme sports version of acting [laughs].
What’s the scariest thing about you? resurrection situation of the character?
your location is very scary… but I also felt like there was this mythic quality to the film, in the sense of Greek myths exploring basic, universal human emotions. In this case, it’s fear, terror, existential terror, and we’re also dealing with abuse and gaslighting. Greek myths take a range of emotions and to hold them create a vessel that is weird and metaphorical and huge. Thus, Margaret takes on that almost mythical quality of the lioness—the ultimate mother, the ultimate avenger. And it struck me that the level of emotion has to justify the ending. So, for all of her “I’m in control of my life” severity, at her core is this tremendous anger and sense of injustice coupled with panic – pure, unadulterated panic.
Aside from everything else, these feelings also feel very present right now. We’re in an unprecedented time of angst and existential terror, a sense of, “How can either of us have control over what the hell is going on in the world?” I think that’s why the film resonated with people gets under the skin. It’s not because everyone has had an abusive relationship experience — although I know many people who tragically have. It examines only pure, raw emotion and gives you an experience that ends in a kind of morbid catharsis.
The film’s duels definitely have a smoldering theatrical quality. I thought of Harold Pinter or Edward Albee The play about the baby.
Yes, exactly! I had thought about that completely. It is very theatrical and heightened. That was part of what appealed to me.
At one point you deliver a seven-minute monologue. How did you think this speech through?
I’ve had other experiences on stage where I’ve had to deliver huge monologues. I don’t think anything will be as difficult as what I had to give up Machine, it’s this expressionist piece that was written in the 1920’s because it’s probably five minutes of completely disjointed thoughts. So I knew how to deal with it. I prepare extensively for what I need to do to imagine that I am the person experiencing what I am experiencing. But in terms of practicing the lines, even how I’ll say them and how I’ll look when I say them, I never do. I really have no idea what I’m going to do until I do it.
Last time I interviewed you, you talked about putting your characters on paper. What does Margaret’s card look like?
It’s very big and very intense. I do that for everything. I even did it when I was directing, for all the characters. Margaret’s one looks a little crazy. But it’s a tool I can’t be without because I think my most important responsibility to the director is to deliver a cohesive performance so that when you get the cut you have a chance of having something that holds together from A to Z and travels.
And in this film there’s a real sense of spontaneity from moment to moment.
The whole thing can have a logic – but you just have to jump off the cliff. That is my firm belief.