How did this idea first materialise?
My friendship with Jeremy [Dyson, co-director] was born out of a shared love of horror films. We met aged 15 and used to call each other every time a new issue of Starburst came out, or one of us would manage to get a copy of Fangoria. We used to read Alan Jones’s columns to each other! About 10 years ago we started talking about working together and how much we wanted to make that a reality. We had the idea of creating an Amicus-style film, but on stage, and the idea very quickly became Ghost Stories. It opened at the Liverpool Playhouse and then went to the Lyric Hammersmith, and the rest is history. It exploded!
When you wrote the stage play, did you envisage it in cinematic form?
The joy of the play was that it was almost taking tropes from horror films and putting them on stage. Putting that back onto film is a massive challenge. How to do it without it simply feeling like you’d seen it all before? So at the beginning, the idea of a film felt like a distant dream.
You also play the lead role in the film, so how did you share the director’s chair?
It was always very natural. We continually talked about the shots and if it was scenes I was in, I had a stand-in so we could set everything and then I would go in for the actual shoot. In terms of my performance, Jeremy would always give me great notes and I totally trust him.
How much influence did your background in magic inform the play’s creative process?
My many years of work in the world of conjuring certainly helped with the ‘magical thinking’ within the play. The layering of clues and secrets definitely comes from mine and Jeremy’s shared love of magic.