Nick Moran is a British actor, writer, producer and director who came to prominence in Guy Ritchie’s 1998 film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Since then he has carved out a successful career both in front of and behind the camera, and this month stars in the supernatural thriller Don’t Knock Twice. Nick took some time out to talk to Starburst about IMDB, growing up watching horror films and not directing Miss Marple.
Starburst: Hello Nick, how are you?
Nick Moran: I’m alright, thanks. I love your magazine. You’re very thorough and on a couple of my films you’ve given some good reviews. You can talk to me all day!
We may do that! You’re an incredibly busy actor so we wondered what drew you specifically to Don’t Knock Twice?
I tend to be attached to many things on IMDB that just aren’t real. If you’ve got a little bit of a media profile and you’re quite affable it just happens, and people stick you on their films. Tends to be stuff with a load of page 3 models or something. IMDB could never be a key witness for the defence! Bless ‘em, but I’ve given up with them. I don’t even look at it now. If you can order the film on Amazon then I’m definitely in that one. I haven’t done as many supernatural thrillers or horror films as I would have liked though - let’s just get the word out there - and talking of that, Caradog had done The Machine and I was really impressed with that. It was a high concept film that really worked and was the forerunner to Ex Machina. When the opportunity came up to work with the guys who made The Machine then I was in. This film is a well-timed, jump out of your skin, John Carpenter-style thriller and I really enjoyed it when I saw it. Not the sort of Eli Roth blood and guts fest. I’m proud to be part of it. To answer your question, I thought it was going to be good and it was.
There’s a hidden gravitas to your character.
What you have to do with these films, is that every now and then you have a straight line or point that draws you back into the reality of the story. When stuff that stretches belief happens, then you’re already there. For me, the reality is the key. Nothing supernatural happens when I’m around, but then maybe it does. You don’t get what’s really going on until much later. It follows all the films that my mother used to love; the classic horrors and the stuff I was brought up on. My Dad used to work nights and on Saturday’s I’d sit up till whatever hour in the morning watching a horror double bill with my Mum and then have nightmares.
Do you think those memories of growing up watching things you shouldn’t is what draws people to horror?
I think that’s right. Those films were on BBC or ITV on Friday and Saturday nights at the scariest time of the week and you don’t really have that now. We had to watch them at those times, you know – go round Kevin’s house because he’s got a DVD player and you haven’t, and watch a pirate copy of Driller Killer. You’d then get scared shitless and have to walk home in the dark. And then maybe Halloween on VHS. Those things are something you shared and were rites of passage, and maybe they’re not too scary now, but they always took something that was based in real life. Those things, those urban legend horror stories, you need a little bit of that for it to work. Then it’s believable. And that’s something you’re hooked into and what I liked about Don’t Knock Twice is that it’s structured like those films. You play knock, knock on a witch’s door, of course she’s gonna come and get you. Anyone who grew up in the ‘80s knows that! That’s the law! It’s as sound as anything Newton came out with.
You’ve said in the past that directing is your passion, and yet you’ve only directed a few films.
I got as far as I could go as a director. One thing I learned is that you get lied to as an actor, but as a director you get lied to much, much more. I’ve been attached to at least six films that started to go forward but never happened. Right now, I’m attached to two that look like they might happen. I had a five-year hiatus where nothing happened. That’s why you might not hear from a director for a while. In the interim I’ve written four films and one got made which I couldn’t direct, but a couple are in different stages of development. I’m very lucky in that I don’t have to direct something I don’t like, or something ridiculously low-budget, or even Miss Marple like Windy , and then try and get the world to take me seriously. As an actor I can be in some great films. I will direct again, and hopefully next time we talk, it will be about something I’ve made.
Don’t Knock Twice is Out Now in Cinemas and On Demand and is Released on DVD on the 3rd April