As your new Admin, I have put together all the news, interview, press and clips in here for anyone who has been missing things since Mylene’s last update in April. (Gallery update will be next) Enjoy Sheehanigans! (:
If you haven’t seen The Road Within yet, Rob’s latest film; I highly recommend you take a look! The story is a heartwarming drama about mental illness awareness. Sheehan’s performance is his best to date!
The missing news updates:
+ Robert Sheehan to return to the London stage in September | July 4
+ Robert Sheehan and others talk to The Empire Podcast at the Edinburgh International Film Festival | June 25
+ Film Review: ‘The Messenger’ by Digital Spy | June 25
+ Cannes: Robert Sheehan Joins Hailee Steinfeld in ‘Statistical Probability of Love’ | May 14
+ Robert Sheehan and Gren Wells Talk The Road Within (Shockya Exclusive) | April 25
+ Robert Sheehan on yelling the c-word in front of kids and wanting to play Richard III | April 17
During press for The Road Within; Robert Sheehan and writer/director Gren Wells were online to do a IAmA for Reddit.com to answer any fan’s questions. Rob also answered a lot of questions about TRW and his previous role as Nathan Young in Misfits… and his thoughts about a Misfits movie! (Our favorite character, am I right?!) Click here to read through the Q&A.
Below are recent video interviews I have gathered since the last update in April:
(Videos) Press Interviews for The Road Within (April 14, 2015)
+ YEC Online Interview with Gren Wells, Robert Patrick, and Robert Sheehan
+ Jami Philbrick Interviews Robert Patrick, Robert Sheehan and Gren Wells
(Videos) Jameson Dublin Film Festival (March 2015) for the The Road Within
+ In Conversation with Robert Sheehan | Dublin International Film Festival
+ Festival 2015 Day FOUR The Road Within Screening | Dublin International Film Festival
+ Robert Sheehan Chats Tourette’s & L.A at JDIFF | Two Tube
+ The one question interview with Robert Sheehan (Fan interview)
+ Meeting Robert Sheehan Dublin (Fan encounter)
And last but not least; don’t forget to book your tickets to see Rob live on stage for “The War Of Roses”! Visit rosetheatrekingston.org to secure your place. Performances take place from September 16 to October 31, 2015
June 25, 2015 – The Edinburgh International Film Festival invited the Empire Podcast team back for the second year in a row, and this is the result: over two hours of silly questions, silly answers, movie news and reviews, featuring not one, not two, but three interviews. We spoil you, we know. Rob speaks up at about 36:20
Sheehan and Wells generously took the time recently to talk about filming ‘The Road Within’ over the phone. Among other things, the actor and writer-director discussed how he met with families who have members living with Tourette’s syndrome, as well as the spokesperson for the Tourette’s Association, to help him physically and emotionally prepare for his role of Vincent; how Wells encouraged the cast to film each scene in three takes, as they were filming the comedy-drama independently on a short shooting schedule, which Sheehan embraced, as he enjoyed the immediacy of the process; and how they feel it’s important to incorporate comedy into such an emotionally important story, as humor is a part of the human condition and daily life, and there’s a difference between laughing at someone, and laughing with them.
ShockYa (SY): Robert, you play Vincent in the new comedy-drama, ‘The Road Within.’ What was it about the character of Vincent, as well as the script and project overall, that convinced you to take on the role?
Robert Sheehan (RS): Well, I love a challenge. When I first read the script, it seemed like Vincent would be a challenging character to play.
SY: Vincent is a young man with Tourette’s syndrome, who has contended with physical and vocal tics since his childhood. How did you prepare for the physicality, as well as the emotional aspects, of the role, and showcase the side effects of his illness?
RS: Well, the preparation to show Vincent’s Tourette’s came from two sources. There was a man in Los Angeles who Gren introduced me to, Jaxon Kramer, who’s the spokesperson for the Tourette’s Association. We spent a lot of time together, and he gave me important information on what it’s like to live with Tourette’s, particularly as an adolescent.
Then I did a lot of research on my own when I went back to London. I met with families who had a member who had Tourette’s, who gave me insight into how they act, especially in public.
SY: What was the process of filming the comedy-drama independently for the both of you, particularly since it focuses on such important physical and emotional obstacles Vincent is forced to contend with, and overcome, because of his illness? Did filming independently allow you to shoot on location?
Gren Wells (GW): Well, we filmed the majority of the movie in Los Angeles, so that we could afford to go on location the final few days. It was so important to film some of the scenes on location; for instance, you can’t fake Yosemite. As you see in the film, it’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I knew we had to shoot there, because it shows the triumph of these three characters, who have been told their whole lives that they couldn’t accomplish anything, and that they weren’t good at anything. So for them to climb to the top of Yosemite is quite an achievement. So we had to save up our money to actually go there, as well as Santa Cruz. That final week was just amazing, because we were all working together. We were also shooting the finale, so it was a special time.
RS: I love the process of filming with a small, intimate crew. You become like a family quicker when you don’t have a big crew, which helps you get to know everyone better. Then by the time we went on the road together, I was really excited, and was really comfortable with everyone to film those scenes.
When you film independently, you only have a limited time to shoot-we really learned to work with Gren’s idea to only have a three-take set-up for each scene. I liked the immediacy of that process. I really prefer the faster speed of how independent films are made.
SY: Soon after he checks into the center, Vincent embarks on an unauthorized trip outside of the facility, with a young woman he meets there, Marie, a young woman who’s receiving treatment for her anorexia, and Alex, his OCD-stricken roommate. How did you both build your working relationships with Zoë Kravitz and Dev Patel, who play Marie and Alex?
RS: Well, what was fun was that Zoe, Dev and I had a nice meet-up time to rehearse and find the dynamic between us. Dev brought a unique energy, and there was always a lot of screaming with him. Zoe helped equal out his bombastic nature, so I think it worked out well between us. We had a trial and error process together, to find the right dynamic between us.
GW: Working with the three of them was a joy, because they were all willing to try anything. Since they were so well-prepared, they made it so much easier when we began filming. No one was learning their lines on set, and they came in knowing their characters. So at that point, it was just trying to get the best take that conveyed the right emotions and general feeling from our three choices. So it was a pleasure to work with Robert, Zoe and Dev.
SY: Speaking of building the bonds with the rest of the cast and crew on the set, Gren, did you encourage the actors to improvise? Were you able to have rehearsal time together to help build the characters’ relationships and their backstories?
GW: We luckily were able to have a lot of rehearsal time. Since these characters were so physically demanding, the actors put in the extra time to prepare. So any and all issues with the script, like if there was a certain line or word they wanted to change, was dealt with beforehand.
The thing about improvising is that it takes a potentially long time to figure out what the scene is about. We didn’t have the luxury of time-we only had time for three takes per set-up. So there was very little improvising, other than me giving Robbie free rein to try different things if he nailed the scripted scene in take one, which he did 99.9 percent of the time. So then on the other two takes, I let gave him free rein to do whatever he wanted with the tic. So some of the tics you see in the film are all courtesy of Mr. Robert Sheehan. But overall, there really wasn’t much improvising, just because of the time aspect.
SY: While the film focuses on the struggles of the illnesses Vincent, Marie and Alex are living with, the three are continuously relying on humor, that’s often targeted at each other, to make themselves feel better. Why do you both think it was so important to include that humor in a film that focuses on serious health issues?
GW: Well, I think humor is a part of the human condition and daily life. I can’t imagine not laughing everyday. There is a big difference between laughing at someone, and laughing with them. Alex and Marie teach Vincent that it is okay to laugh at yourself, because we’re all ridiculous and have things we don’t like about ourselves. Just because these three characters are different on the outside, and we can see their differences, those differences really don’t make them different from the rest of us.
The dad and the doctor in the film are actually far more screwed up than the three kids combined. But they can hide their differences and weirdness a little bit better. That raises the question of who should really be in the clinic. The kids are having a tough time, but once they get out on the road on their own, they all, with Vincent and Alex in particular, realize they’re capable of so much more than they’ve been told their whole lives.
RS: They realize that by getting out of the clinic, that life can be full. They can reach their full potential by getting out of that environment.
GW: That’s exactly right. They also realize that life is messy, and you can’t control everything. They also realize that life is painful at times, but life is worth it. So I do think that humor is essential in that aspect.
Also, when you’re dealing with sensitive subject matters like Tourette’s, anorexia and OCD, if you try to beat audiences over the head with just hard-core drama for two hours, they never get a release. That’s what laughter is-being able to breathe. So if you never let them do that, they’re going to feel so drowsy after they finish watching the film. So I took my cues from the masters, including John Hughes, who showed that you can infuse humor into very delicate subject matter, and come out even stronger on the other side.
SY: Speaking of Vincent’s estranged father Robert, who’s played by Robert Patrick, he checks his son into a center for patients dealing with similar psychological disorders, after Vincent’s mother, who was his primary caregiver, dies. Why do you both feel it was so important for Vincent to spend time on his own, in order to help strengthen his relationship with his father?
GW: Well, the father-son story is a classic. It’s about the mentality of passing your father on the highway, whether emotionally, financially or physically. There are always struggles with any father and son. In this film, it’s easily exasperated because of Vincent’s illness. I don’t think his father is a bad person, but he’s not emotionally equipped to deal with a son who has a severe illness. So what he did was divorce his wife and left, because it was easier for him not to see his son, and be reminded of the fact that he has a disability.
But his journey throughout the film is realizing that his son is a capable person. He also realizes that Vincent’s deserving of receiving more of his love, because he’s battling something that’s extremely difficult.
SY: What was your experience of both writing and directing ‘The Road Within,’ particularly since this is the first film you helmed?
GW: I loved every second of it. (laughs) I’m a bit of a control freak, so being the person in charge definitely felt good. But I think I’m also really good at collaborating, and hearing other people’s ideas. Robbie has spoken about the fact that I allowed them the freedom to run with their characters. I did that because they’re so enormously talented, and really got to know and understand their characters better than I did. So it felt really good to get my point across with the help of the entire cast and crew. We all made a beautiful movie that really opens up the discussion of mental health awareness.
SY: ‘The Road Within’ is currently playing on VOD and in theaters. Are you both personally fans of watching films On Demand, and why do you think the platform is so beneficial to smaller, independent films like this on?
RS: Well, I actually prefer watching films in the cinema, but I know not all films are available to everyone in theaters. So I think On Demand can be a nice contingency plan, but I prefer to always watch a movie in the cinema.
GW: I agree, but VOD can be helpful in certain instances. We received this beautiful letter from a father who’s child has Tourette’s. Since her outbursts are so severe, he can’t take her to the theater. So he rented and watched the movie at home, and she actually stopped ticking for the entire movie. That’s so extraordinary to hear, because obviously without the movie being available on VOD, she wouldn’t have been able to see it.
But I agree with Robbie that movies like this deserve to be seen in the theater, because there’s a communal experience that develops. That’s the way I shot it and want people to see it.
The ‘Misfits‘ alum plays a teen with Tourette’s in ‘The Road Within‘
Tourette syndrome has gotten the Hollywood spotlight from stars like Amy Poehler in “Deuce Bigalow,” Bill Murray in “What About Bob?” and Elle Fanning in “Phoebe in Wonderland.” Media representation of the tic disorder has ranged from irreverently comedic to sweetly tragic.
The new movie “The Road Within,” which opens in theaters Friday, aims for a bit of both – funny but also sweet and touching and respectful of those who have Tourette’s.
In the film, 27-year-old Irish actor Robert Sheehan (“Misfits,” “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”) plays Vincent, a teen dealing with Tourette syndrome following the death of his mother. He moves into a clinic, where he meets Marie (Zoe Kravitz), a girl with an eating disorder, and Alex (Dev Patel), a boy with obsessive-compulsive impulses. When the three teens steal their doctor’s car and escape the clinic, they embark on a road trip full of rebellious antics, clashing personalities, much-needed healing and new friendships.
Sheehan talked with HitFix about his preparation to play a character with Tourette’s, what pushes Dev Patel’s buttons, and which director got him thinking about taking on Shakespeare.
HitFix: When you read the script for “The Road Within,” what about it made you know you had to be involved?
Robert Sheehan: I was on my way to Los Angeles on an airplane, and I had a big bunch of scripts in front of me, about 10 or 12 – this sounds like a made up anecdote but it really isn’t I promise – because I was coming into town I was going to do meetings and auditions and what have you. So I just decided to take quite a fascist approach to the material because there’s so much of it. I was reading maybe 20 to 25 pages of the scripts, and if it didn’t intrigue me in some way, shape or form I just kind of put it aside and went on to the next one. And it was in that group of scripts “The Road Within” was above and beyond the best. Like anything, if someone’s put a lot of care and attention to something and is somewhat inspired by something, it comes across very, very strongly on the page. What it was about this script was certainly the tone and strength of the script. The comedy in this was very, very clever. And I thought it was terrifying, the idea of representing a syndrome for a mass of people out there in the film. But I thought I could do that. I can do that. I just had an instinct I suppose.
What kind of research about Tourette syndrome did you do to prepare?
A sort of practical research. There’s a guy from the Tourette Syndrome Association, a guy called Jackson Kramer who was very much an open book about the syndrome, about having Tourette’s, and he helped us out to no end. He became very much like a creative consultant since he was on set with me the whole time. I went to quite a few support groups. I also hung out with Ruth, who I’d met at a support group and she was the one chairing support groups in London. And she had a very, very different form of Tourette’s and coprolalia [involuntary utterance of obscene words]. And then just watched everything there was to watch about people with Tourette’s syndrome, documentaries that have been made over the years. You look back there’s documentaries made in the ’80s, which are fascinating because it seemed like the disorder – it’s so incredibly rare.
And people who have the compulsive profanity are even more rare.
Yeah, and in the early ’80s, people just being ill-equipped to deal with a family member who has Tourette syndrome. It just must be tough. You get a real sense of tragedy of the thing. To go through your adolescence – Christ, in your adolescence you have no idea who you are, really. You’re just sort of clamoring around for some kind of sense of identity. To do that and have Tourette syndrome, it just seems like a lot on your plate.
It is tragic, but Vincent’s tics, some of the things he’ll blurt out are funny, and they’re meant to be funny. How do you embrace the humor in that but also approach it respectfully?
I don’t really know what is that particular ingredient that makes it okay to laugh. I suppose there’s great care and attention taken to the situation. Someone with Tourette syndrome or coprolalia, where they vocalize stuff – it tends to be very responsive to the environment, to stimuli in the environment. There’s a good example in the movie when we’re at the first gas station. And I go in, and the guy behind the counter tells me that my credit card won’t work. This actor has no front teeth. We did a whole load of vocal tics that made reference to the fact that he had no teeth. So playing it sort of honestly. It’s just about having an honest intention as opposed to playing it just for the laugh.
You continued acting out Vincent’s tics throughout your time on set, even when cameras weren’t rolling. Why that approach?
It kind of ended up being a bit easier that way. I had a sort of an energy on the film that I think came about from every day in the morning working the body up to that sort of level of energy with Tourette syndrome bubbling up to the surface. I developed a kind of compulsive comfort in ticking all day.
When production ended, was there a part of you that missed being able to get away with just cussing and saying inappropriate things all the time?
No. I mean, I think it definitely affected me a bit. I’m someone who has no shame in cursing in public anyway.
I wouldn’t give a f—. Within reason. We were actually at the L.A. Zoo once. We went there as a little field exercise for me to have Tourette’s in front of strangers. And it did get to a point where I just turned to [director] Gren [Wells] and Jackson and said, “I can’t shout c— in front of these kids.” There’s no need for it.
With your character and Zoe Kravitz’s and Dev Patel’s characters, there’s a lot of teasing each other, a lot of pushing each other’s buttons. What pushes Zoe and Dev’s buttons? I’m sure you figured that out at some point during shooting.
Dev has an adverse fear of insects. Anything flying, an insect, he might just have a freak out and nearly crash the car. So the real Dev and the character Alex – there’s definitely an intersection there. And poor Zoe – she was in a sensitive way because she was on this controlled diet. And she did the whole dieting thing. She did it carefully with a nutritionist. She was probably more sensitive than she usually is, so more stuff was pushing her buttons.
Zoe has spoken out about how playing an anorexic girl was very personal since she’s had eating disorders in her own life – as a co-star did you find yourself in a place where you were supporting her as she delved into that again for a role?
Yeah, we were really, really supportive. Took a real interest in how she was going about doing her dieting. It was really fascinating. Before she started the diet, she did things like a clay cleanse, which essentially is drinking liquid clay which that will absorb up any sort of extraneous stuff in the bowel. It cleans you completely out. Yeah man, I think she had the toughest gig out of all of us. I never had to worry about having to not eating.
This being a road movie, there are a lot of beautiful locations. Did you have a favorite location to shoot in?
Yosemite National Park. We went to a lot of locations on the film, which was great. And I think it really drove home the actual road trip experience. But Yosemite was just a f—ing profound place. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s sort of an awe-inspiring quiet that you get. It quiets the mind. And that’s a very sort of spiritual place, whatever that might mean to each person.
And then, as Vincent, you had to shout out into that quiet.
Yeah, which felt disrespectful almost. Shouting into the valley and the glacier beyond. A gorgeous place. That was a true joy getting to go there.
I also wanted to ask you about the “Mortal Instruments” TV show that’s in development at ABC Family. Is there any chance you would play Simon again on the small screen?
No. No, I think that’ll be a whole new incarnation separate from the film.
Is there anyone you can see playing Simon?
Who should play Simon? Let me see. Let me see. I’m so bad. This is why I would never make a good casting director.
It’s a tough job.
It is. You have to have this imagination. But they’ll be younger hopefully in the show, won’t they? They’ll be 16, 17. They should be. In the books, they’re all in their teens, so they should find some blithe young teenagers to take up the mantle!
You know there are some fans of another series who are playing casting director – have you heard of the comic book series “Y: The Last Man”?
No, I haven’t.
I’ve seen a few different “dream casting” lists by fans of the series who hope it gets adapted into a movie or TV show, and they have mentioned you for Yorick, the lead character.
Hey, Yorick. Like the clown from “Hamlet.”
Yep. The character in the comic books – his father is a fan of Shakespeare, so he named both his kids after Shakespeare characters.
Really interesting. Intéressant. Good, a job offer! You know, I was talking with Trevor Nunn recently. Maybe it’s time for me to do Shakespeare. Maybe the universe is telling me something.
If you could be in any Shakespeare play, what would it be?
I don’t know why but probably “Richard III.”
Are you old enough to play Richard III?
Funny you should say that because Trevor told me an interesting thing about Richard III, which is he wasn’t like 40, 50. He was actually 32 when he was killed.
Richard III is still Ian McKellen in his 50s or Laurence Olivier in his 40s in my head.
Yeah. Or Kevin Spacey, who I saw do it. Or Mark Rylance, who’s in his 50s. There’s that misconception. I think you can massage Shakespeare in whatever direction you want.
So were you talking with Trevor Nunn about possibly doing “Richard III” with him or –
Oh no. I just met him in a casual way.
Got it. Well, I would like to see your take on Richard III. I also encourage you to check out that comic book series “Y: The Last Man” since the fans have been bouncing around your name for that.
I’ll tell my agent.
Robert met with Eoghan Doherty, from Joe.ie, to talk about “The Road Within” after its premiere last week. Watch it below: