Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen Talk ‘The Other Half’
March 8, 2017
By Ashy Venkatrajulu
Emmy Award winner Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) and Tom Cullen come together in a difficult and tumultuous story about an unwavering yet anguished love.
The film The Other Half, written and directed by Joey Klein,can be said to provide an intimate portrait of mental health but also of grief, acceptance and the most wrenching kind of love. Constantly balancing on the edge of being torn apart by their individual pain, Emily (Tatiana Maslany) and Nickie (Tom Cullen) search for the spaces between their issues in which to create a happy life together.
Congrats on the film. It was so beautifully acted, so beautifully shot. You were executive producers of the film as well. How did you get drawn into this project and what was it like collaborating with each other?
Tom Cullen: So this film was actually written for us by a good friend of ours and so that was the main draw—to get to work with friends. But then when you read the script, I was really excited about playing these very complex, very real characters that I feel are underrepresented on the screen and in art so I was very excited about filling in the shape that was on the script.
Tatiana Maslany: Yeah, for me for sure the collaboration was a huge draw and getting to work with Tom on something so intense and so kind of like, where it was just the two of us, you know? Doing beautifully written scene work was really exciting. And yeah for me there was just something kind of dangerous about these two together in the simplest way. You know they’re just trying to forge a relationship but there are so many things that are telling that they shouldn’t. Whether it’s the way society might look on this relationship, you know they’re not good for each other, they’re dangerous for each other, all this stuff. But the way that their love is undeniable and that they had this recognition and this acceptance, full acceptance of every part of themselves that they normally wouldn’t share with people. There’s like a total, you know, Emily loves the things about Nickie that he doesn’t love about himself.
Explain that dynamic a bit more.
TC: I think that the film is about two people who are hurting in different ways. I kind of refer to it as like hole in your stomach that you need to fill. And they’re trying to both fill it and what they recognize in each other is that pain and they both are able to ignite each other and support each other and understand each other. And the film is essentially about I think it’s a hopeful film about two people who under extreme circumstances are trying to forge a better life together.
Both of your characters live with and battle such intense emotions because of their respective mental health disorders. Talk to me about how you prepared for that.
TM: Joey [the director] had done a lot of extensive research for Emily in terms of just—I think he didn’t intend to write someone with bipolar but that’s sort of what revealed itself as he was writing drafts and drafts of the script. And he gave me a stack of books that I read over the five years that we were sort of in development. And articles and we talked to people and just really tried to get it clinically right and then allow it to sort of be what it is and allow Emily’s life to—or her emotional life to be whatever it was going to be. [Addressing Tom] I don’t know what kind of research you guys did.
TC: Well I was actually in the middle of a TV show when we shot this—I had two weeks off so we shot in this two weeks—where I was playing a guy who was dealing with the loss of his brother, so I was playing two characters who go through the same thing and for me I recently had a quite a bad bereavement and so I was kind of—this film offered a lot of catharsis for me to go and work through my grief and to really understand it. So my research was entirely coming from myself really. It was more of a research of what I was going through. That’s an intense answer isn’t it?
TM: That’s a great answer.
It was a great answer.
The Other Half will be in theaters on March 10th.