It's night. It's dark. We're up north somewhere in an abandoned quarry whose only claim to fame is the fact that it's a favourite place for local psychos to drown dogs. Not surprisingly we're on the set of a horror film, Hush, or, to be fairer, more of an ambitious psychological shocker that sees a girl (Christine Bottomley) abducted by a sex trafficker, forcing her boyfriend (Will Ash) to come to the rescue, MacGyver-style. As it turns out, I wasn't a huge fan of the finished product, directed by ex-music vid maestro Mark Tonderai. But on this particular evening, it was fascinating to watch them shoot the climactic discovery of the bad guy's lair, and wander from trailer to trailer speaking to the cast and sharing a biscuit (quite literally hob-nobbing) with cult hero Andreas Wisniewski. But it was Christine Bottomley who really catches your attention. Loud, blonde and northern, what's not to like about this TV star beginning to make her way in film? We grabbed a brief chat between takes...
LWLies: So tell us who are you and what you do and who you are in this film… Tell us while it’s fresh. What makes your character exciting?
Bottomley: Okay. I play Beth who… Sorry, I’m not very articulate and you’ll write that I’m really boring. ‘She’s boring as shit! Christine’s really dull!’ No, I play Beth, she’s a mid-20s girl, she works in PR, she goes out with this fella called Zakes, they’ve been together about four or five years and they really love the bones off each other but he’s not really getting his finger out of his arse at the moment, he’s just sort of treading water with his career and what he’s doing, and that’s really frustrating her. So at the start of the film they’re on this road trip for his work – he puts up posters but he’s a writer – and she really just wants to talk to him and get the relationship back on track. Then this event happens, you know, because it’s a psychological thriller this event happens and it just, sort of, obviously stretches their relationship.
LWLies: That would not be great for your relationship if your girlfriend got kidnapped.
Bottomley: Yeah, it’d be challenging, wouldn’t it? The thing that’s quite dark about it from her point of view is that the night before we see them in this film she’s had a bit of shenanigans with a boy – a man – that has got his, you know… That is where she would like Zakes to be really, so she’s had a liaison with this bloke, so she’s got to tell him that but she really wants to make this relationship work.
LWLies: So it’s kind of about female empowerment, or at least wanting certain things and growing up. At the same time, though, there’s a lot around at the moment about ‘torture porn’ films in which women are being brutalised. Do you worry that this film is going to play into those stereotypes?
Bottomley: No because actually… Well, okay so this guy is abducting women for sex trafficking, so that’s what’s going on there. What this film isn’t showing is loads of women really mauled up because if they’re wanted for sex trafficking they want to keep the women in as good order as possible. Actually, with my character, she fights back, she really fights back throughout the whole thing from the fact that her relationship with her boyfriend... She wants to give him a kick up the arse, and when an occurrence happens and he thinks he’s seen something and she’s the one who’s like, 'Right, we’ve got to do something about it.' She ends up in this world because she gets abducted but she fights to the end. She’s not a weak woman in any way.
LWLies: How long have you been doing nights for?
Bottomley: Bloody hell it feels like an eternity! About three or four weeks.
LWLies: It must feel like living a completely different life.
Bottomley: Yeah I just feel a bit like a vampire – I haven’t seen the light of day. We had to stop and get a paper tonight just to see things like the news and what’s going on really. And I haven’t had a beer for ages because we finish work at six in the morning, you know what I mean?
LWLies: Has that brought you closer together or do you find people have got shorter tempers?
Bottomley: No, I think that for us, for the actors, we’ve got a hell of a lot easier job than the crew – the focus pullers, the make-up girls, obviously everyone has to keep on it but they’re working harder than us. I think they’re doing amazingly. But I think for us, because it’s a low budget film, the actors are all literally staying in the same digs, it just means you’re living the film, you don’t get much opportunity to think of much else.
LWLies: Do you think that’s healthy?
Bottomley: Well I think that’s good for this, and it’s a five, six-week shoot, it’s low budget and I think it’s helping really.
LWLies: What is the thing about Will Ash that most bugs the hell out of you?
Bottomley: Nothing! He doesn’t like London? No. ’Cos I’m a northerner but I live in London and I love it. We have a bit of banter.
LWLies: Where are you from?
Bottomley: I’m actually from Rochdale but I’m a Lancashire lass. I grew up around Manchester, and we just have a bit of banter about that because he’s still, you know, in the north. And I love it and it’s my home too, but I’m a big fan of London.