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Interview

Spotlight On: Jared Harris, ‘Mad Men’

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Spotlight On: Jared Harris, ‘Mad Men’
Photo Source: Colin Stark

Coming off his recent stint as Lane Pryce on AMC’s “Mad Men,” Jared Harris has leaped into a very different world from the advertising offices on Madison Avenue. His upcoming film “The Quiet Ones,” out April 25, has him playing a professor and scientist hell-bent on extracting what he believes is a demonic figment of the disturbed Jane Harper’s imagination.

On playing Professor Coupland.
“I’m fascinated by the Manhattan Project.... There was a very sizable group of those scientists who felt that, theoretically, when they pushed that button and set that first atomic bomb off, there was a chance, a strong chance, that it would rip the atmosphere off the Earth and kill all life on the planet. They still pushed the button. There was that fantastic tunnel vision scientists have—it’s where the whole mad scientist thing comes from, that cliché.”

On acting in the film’s challenging scenes.
“When you’re doing scenes where you’re putting people under duress, those things are unpleasant and you feel incredibly guilty when you’re doing the scenes, even though it’s all fake. You’re psychologically torturing someone. The scene where we get branded by the sigil…. You feel awkward because you’re going to be exposed, because you’ve really got to go for it, but they were great fun.”

On what drew him to “The Quiet Ones.”
“What I liked about this story was it did it through science, rather than in these movies where you immediately have to accept from the start that ‘This is all true and these things existed,’ which is difficult if you don’t come from that sensibility. Why it appealed to me is it starts from the completely skeptical and rational point of view and it slowly draws you in.”

On his experience with hauntings.
“I went to Catholic boarding school; we were taught by Benedictine monks. There was a very famous story at the school about an exorcism that was performed, an experiment if you like, that went badly wrong—boys playing with the Ouija board. The room where it happened had this big crucifix on the wall; it had been cleansed by the priest who did it. The priest, he would teach religious knowledge, and when you were in his class you basically badgered the man to try and tell you the story, which he always refused to do. Sneakily, I thought, I know what I’ll do. If I start telling the story before he comes in to class, it’ll annoy him that I’ve got it wrong and then he’ll start to tell it—which is exactly what happened.”

Like this post? Check out last week's Spotlight On, featuring Gregg Sulkin!

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