Sensational headlines are made every day – murders, rapes, robberies. Oftentimes, the news media will briefly cover a shocking or scandalous story, but then the world goes on and only the most sordid or spectacular are remembered.
Most marginalized poor are desperate, but still law abiding citizens, GALVESTON is not about them. It’s about the people who through circumstance or choice decide to turn to criminal life in order to survive. It’s about the people who end up in the headlines. (Or not, if they are never caught).
The official synopsis of Galveston is “Roy Cady (Ben Foster), a heavy-drinking criminal enforcer and mob hit man whose boss (Beau Bridges) set him up in a double-cross scheme kills his would-be assassins before they kill him. He then discovers Rocky (Elle Fanning) a young woman being held captive, and reluctantly takes her with him on his escape. Determined to find safety and sanctuary in Galveston, Roy must find a way to stop his boss from pursuing them.
Roy sets up camp in a run-down hotel in Galveston, Texas run by Nancy (Austin’s own C.K. McFarland), a hardened woman who runs the motel with an eye to keeping order, somewhat. She is immediately suspicious of the age difference between Roy and Rocky, as well as the fact that they are accompanied by a little girl. Nancy warns Roy that she knows the police and will be watching them.
The residents of the motel include families and loners, people down on their luck, passing through, searching for something better. One of these is Tray, played by Robert Aramayo, whom most recognize as the young Ned Stark on the Game Of Thrones. Tray is a schemer who wants to enlist Roy in petty robbery of a drug store. He attempts to blackmail Roy when he recognizes that Rocky is probably a person of interest in the headline news story about a murder in an East Texas town called Orange.
We talked to Robert about his role as Tray, and how he visited Galveston to research as much as possible about his character.
AMFM: I know that Tray is the opposite of who you are, so how did you prepare for the role?
Robert Aramayo: Tray is really far away from who I am as a person, so I thought it was important to go and see where he was from, to see what sort of environment he interacted with on a daily basis. While I was there, I found someone who I thought might have the same energy as Tray, that was really important for me in that process, obviously I’m from England. I needed to see that landscape. I was lucky.
AMFM: You actually found someone who was kind of like your character Tray?
Robert Aramayo: Yeah. I found him a corner of somewhere, where I did not expect to find him at all. And then Holy Shit! There he was. It was crazy and awesome and he was a really nice guy as well. I thought he had Tray’s kind of energy.
AMFM: What was that like? And where did you go in Galveston?
RA: All over the island. I made some friends there. It was a really good experience for me to do it. Maybe I’m biased, but I think Tray is quite a good conversationalist, really. He’s dangerous, yes, but there is a social element that helps him in his life. I feel like interacting with people and talking to them in Galveston was a really good way in. And of course, the script was the biggest road map.
AMFM: Yes, that personality type is sort of like a salesman. In a different world, he could have been a pharmaceutical salesman or something.
RA: Totally – or ANY sort of salesman. He sells his ideas, and he thinks he’s really good at it. He’s got great conversational skills and he uses them. I think if things had fallen differently for Tray, he wouldn’t have been in the deadly situation that he found himself in. It’s always interesting to think what might have been.
AMFM: I wanted to compliment you on your American accent. Your Texas accent was spot on too. Where are you actually from?
RA: I’m from the northeast of England, Yorkshire. The thing about accents, it’s not an easy thing. It’s not about dialects, it’s about the person. You have to find the energy of the person and then that helps with the dialect. If you’re just trying to do a dialect then you’re just practicing vocal tricks.
AMFM: So you really immersed yourself into this character, because I’m really impressed by your accent. I’ve seen you on Game of Thrones, and now you’re going to star in another – Eternal Beauty.
RA: Eternal Beauty is my first British film. All my other stuff has been American. Craig Roberts is directing, it’s super exciting, the story is wonderful – the actors are amazing, it’s a really cool movie. I’m really excited for it to go and do whatever it’s going to do.
AMFM: How did you get involved in acting?
R.A.: I’ve always been acting, all the time I can remember. Theater was my whole life. I went to school in New York, graduated three years ago, and have been making stuff ever since. I’ve always been an actor. My sister is an actress, she’s a great actress – she does theater in the U.K. There are no other actors in the family, just me and my sister, which is kind of weird. We were part of an awesome youth theater where we come from, they nurture young actors. We were part of that from a really young age.
AMFM: There is a difference between acting for theater and acting for film. Do you prefer one over the other or are they two different animals?
R.A.: That’s the hardest question to answer. Ultimately you can’t think of them as different because you are inhabiting people in both scenarios. I mean, there’s an energetic difference between a live audience and a camera. There are stark differences between the two for sure, no doubt about that. But in terms of giving definition to it, I ca. But I can just tell you that film is really scary for me. It’s terrifying. That’s why I’m doing it, it will hopefully help me to become a better actor. The camera is like a truth detector, a lie detector. It helps the actor stay moment to moment and hone what you do. I love making film for that reason, it’s teaching me more about acting.
AMFM: I understand what you’re saying. Especially the new digital cameras, it’s really hard to see yourself on a huge screen. Especially if you’re a private person, and most actors really are. To turn the lens on yourself takes a lot of courage, a lot of bravery.
Back to the movie Galveston…it’s a dark story, but in the end it’s a story of redemption. Your character played an important part, even though (redacted spoiler). People join a movie project for a reason. So what is your takeway?
R.A.: In general, for the audience?
R.A.: I think you sort of nailed it. It is a story of redemption, and capacity for love. There is an enormous amount of love in this movie, albeit it hidden, dark and gritty. It’s not a light bright movie. It’s dark and deep. There are so many layers going on with all of these characters.
But it’s also a cool story, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. All three parts are executed well. Melanie’s (director Mélanie Laurent) work on it is awesome. It actually tells a story, that’s hard to pull off sometimes, that’s why I’m proud of it. It’s also a cool slice of Americana – a very American story with great American actors in Ben and Elle. The energy and grit they bring to it is just very well done.
AMFM: And it makes people think after watching it. I was actually sad for everyone involved, it was such a tragic thing. The redeeming thing at the end was that the young lady who was obviously raised by people who loved her, looks for her past and finds Roy. In a hurricane! And he doesn’t tell her the whole story – that was love.
The director was able to paint a palette that was dreary and gray on purpose, but contrasted with moments of brightness and joy. I noticed it was raining when you filmed, I don’t know if they planned for that or if it was a happy coincidence – you can’t always get what you want or need while filming. But those scenes contrasted with the beautiful scene at the beach, in the bright sunshine. And the scene at the motel swimming pool, where Tray sees Rocky swimming. That is what ordinary young people do. They talk to each other and interact. But it was anything but ordinary. Their world was tragic.
R.A.: It was tragic. And Rocky’s end. Scripts aren’t usually as bold as that. The writer was audacious enough to make that creative choice. It feels like the way life shocks you sometimes. It never goes the way you think it’s going to go. But when you start watching the movie, you don’t think the character of Rocky ends up where she does.
AMFM: Yeah, because she’s kind of sweet and innocent.
R.A.: You can relate to the character, but where it goes, it’s not been executed in that way before. I feel like I haven’t seen it as powerful as that, or as arresting as that. You think “Oh My God, I had no idea it was going there.”
AMFM: Yes, they usually try to tidy it up in the movies.
R.A.: Melanie, and Elle, and the writer, all those elements combined to make an interesting and gritty story.
AMFM: It is interesting, it is gritty, and it is deep. I think it’s too deep for Hollywood, personally. This doesn’t have a tidy ending, but it’s just like real life. In that way, it does it’s job. It makes you think. You read in the newspaper about people like this. But you never usually hear the back story of how they got into their situation. Ordinary people will do extraordinary things in certain circumstances – even commit murder.