“Bees Make Honey,” the stylish debut from writer/director Jack Eve, is a true family affair. His sister Alice Eve (“Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “Black Mirror”) headlines the cast, while their father, Trevor Eve (“Troy”), is featured in a supporting role. Pic mixes 1930s period decor with modern music, flashy photography and energetic editing in a dark comedy. Alice Eve spoke with Variety about her work on “Bees Make Honey.”
How did “Bees Make Honey” originate?
It was born out of my brother’s wild imagination and his love for movies in general. He knows me very well, and knew I’d be well suited to the part. There are bits that are certainly inspired by films we’ve loved, but this is his creation.
What was it like working with your brother considering that it was his feature debut, and you’re one of the producers?
My focus was on giving exactly the performance that he desired to see on screen, and being there for him if he needed anything from a creative standpoint. And as a producer, I was trying to keep the film moving along as efficiently as possible.
Your character in “Bees Make Honey” is fascinating because you play off of the inherently theatrical qualities of the narrative, and yet there’s still a sense of modernity. What was that like for you as an actress?
It was exciting! My greatest joy in life comes from entertaining other people, and making them happy. My character grounds the narrative, especially when it gets stylistically crazy. I’m a big believer in truth, so it’s always about finding the truth in any given scene or moment that appeals to me as an actress.
When did you first get interested in acting? Do you have any favorite films, or movies that have inspired you?
I’m a huge fan of classic cinema, and both of my parents are actors, so it was incredible to have dinnertime conversations about the craft and business, as I was definitely interested early on. I love “Chinatown,” and Faye Dunaway is one of my favorite actresses. I could watch Marilyn Monroe or Carole Lombard any day of the week, and I remember David Lean’s “Summertime” with Katharine Hepburn making a big impression on me when I was younger.
Considering that you’re one of the producers of “Bees Make Honey,” what was the biggest challenge?
We made the film for a half a million pounds [around $664,000], and thanks to an extremely dedicated and passionate crew, we squeezed every dollar for all its worth. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this production, and it was a true collaborative journey to get it made. And when you work with family, emotions are involved and run high, and you don’t want to disappoint anyone. There was a belief in each other that was required. My brother loved everyone on the crew, and nobody got paid their full quote. It’s a labor of love.
“I love those badass women from times of yore,” says Alice Eve over the phone from her home in Los Angeles. “I like the ones battling the elements. I think that’s pretty cool.”
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the English actress enjoyed her most recent role in The Stolen, a Western adventure about a women’s thrilling journey to find her kidnapped son.
Eve plays Charlotte Lockton, the wife of a wealthy landowner in 1860s New Zealand, whose happy life is shattered when an intruder murders her husband and makes off with their one-year-old baby. Unhappy with the efforts of local police, Lockton takes it upon herself to track down her child, meeting prostitutes, ex-convicts and Maori warriors along the way. Directed by Niall Johnson, The Stolen also stars Jack Davenport of Kingsman: The Secret Service fame and Graham McTavish from The Hobbit.“It really appealed to me as a story,” says Eve, the 35-year-old star of Star Trek: Into the Darkness. “The simple idea that a woman goes to a new world and not only has her husband taken, but loses her child too. I thought that was a really extreme thing for someone to go through.”
Needless to say, her character, who has to cross the plains of New Zealand alone in the film, lived up to Eve’s feminist expectations. And one of the locations was the Antipodes Islands, a cluster of volcanic rocks five hundred miles south of New Zealand, so there were plenty of chances to battle against the elements. The area is so remote that the islands have no indigenous mammals, only birds.
Eve regales stories of “daily disasters” as a result of filming in the wilderness in winter. “I found it hard with a crew so I can only imagine what it would have been like 170 years ago.” That didn’t stop her from getting stuck in, however, which included doing her own stunts. After successfully filming a scene on a rearing horse, she pleaded with the director to let her do the final take in which her character gallops down a beach into the distance. It was not to be: “They wanted a stunt girl to do it and I was just so devastated that I had a little cry,” she admits with a laugh. “Anyway, they were right in the end because when I practised the horse got out from under me.”As the daughter of the actors Trevor Eve and Sharon Maughan, Alice Eve grew up between England and the US, briefly attending the same school as Paris Hilton in LA. She returned to the UK when she was 12 and was sent to Bedales boarding-school where she had her first taste of acting as Olivia in Twelfth Night.
After that came Oxford at the insistence of her father who wanted her to go to university before running back to LA for auditions. She read English at St Catherine’s (her dissertation was on Wordsworth) before bagging a part in Richard Eyre’s film Stage Beauty in 2004. Since then, her myriad of roles have included Sex and the City 2, Black Mirror and the third Men in Black movie.
While acting has taken her all over the world, this was her first time in New Zealand and she was beguiled by both the magical landscape and the country’s attitudes towards women.
Citing the recent appointment of Jacinda Ardern, the country’s new female Labour Prime Minister, Eve explains that while there people gave her a certain “look in the eye” that made her feel like “what I brought to the table mattered, not my gender”.
“It was one of the first countries to give all women the vote in 1893 and I found there to be very little gender divide in terms of attitudes and their approach to daily life. There don’t seem to be the same problems there that we encounter in Europe and the West.”One of her theories for this is that, unlike the predominately married and pregnant women who travelled to America on the Mayflower, the women who immigrated to New Zealand were nearly exclusively single. “I think that made a big difference to the founding of the country. These single women had to fight their own fight.”
This is a particularly poignant observation in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein and Westminster sexual harassment scandals that have dominated the news in recent weeks. Has she had any experience of sexism in her line of work?
“No, I was not subjected to anything like that, but I think it’s reprehensible for what [Harvey Weinstein] has done and horrible and disgusting to read about.”
However, she thinks that the swell of anger from women around the world is down to “centuries of repression” and, crucially, the gender pay gap. “It’s not great that we’re not paid the same, is it? Pay inequality seems to be across the board… which is really demoralising for the collective.”
While Eve doesn’t want to get bogged down in “boring” discussions about pay within the film industry but she does think that things are changing. Casting directors are more willing to talk about it. She also has a “badass” female manager (is there a theme here?) who went to Harvard Law and fights her corner.
Maybe this shift is why Eve ultimately feels optimistic. “I can’t change anything personally but we should remain hopeful, open and honest, like you should about everything life.”
The Stolen is in selected cinemas now
It’s an English-country-house suspense thriller in the time-honored tradition,” Bill Nighy says of Ordeal by Innocence, a three-part television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel, following last year’s The Witness for the Prosecution and 2015’s And Then There Were None. It will appear this Christmas on the BBC in the U.K. and early next year on Amazon in the U.S. The story is set at Christmastime, in 1954, and Nighy stars as Leo Argyll, a gentleman and an amateur Egyptologist. Nighy was first attracted to the project by, he explains, the “brilliant script, the director, the cast, and the period, and I’m keen on the genre generally.” He continues: “A large part of its appeal was the period—how much our relationships and social structures have changed, and the nostalgia and curiosity we all feel for what happened 60 or 70 years ago.”
Co-starring is Anna Chancellor as Rachel Argyll, a perfect wife to Leo and mother to five adopted children, who is brutally murdered. “It’s a rather cruel Christie for Christmas,” says writer Sarah Phelps. “A nice murder, twisted deviance, and savagery—it makes you realize you quite like your own family!”
“It’s about what kills her, not who,” Phelps says, adding that “women had become weaponized postwar—they were what we’d been fighting for, the perfect hearth, home, family . . . but Rachel kept a dark secret.” Executive producer James Prichard, Christie’s great-grandson, echoes Phelps: “Everything’s perfect on top, but underneath the water everything is chaos. What I love is that it is really subversive, an incredibly screwed-up family at Christmas.” Nighy concurs: “All families have their ups and downs, but this one, bloomin’ hell!”
Director Sandra Goldbacher was looking for “an All About Eve tone, darkly glittering old-style glamour and snappy one-liners.” As for the viewers, Nighy says, “I have a vision of every family around their TV arguing about who’s done it, because the audience will confidently suspect all the characters at some time during the show.” A perfect Christmas feast, then, and there are six more in the pipeline.
Coming to Select Cinemas on November 3.Ascendant Releasing presents Niall Johnson’s thrilling Western adventure THE STOLEN – a heart-wrenching story set in New Zealand following a woman on a life-defining journey to rescue her kidnapped son.
Set in 1860, Charlotte Lockton (Alice Eve: Star Trek In Darkness, Entourage) has settled in the South Island of New Zealand with her wealthy husband, David (Lucas Hinch: Nothing Personal) during the Gold Rush. Blissful beginnings are suddenly shaken as Charlotte’s world is turned upside down and her circumstances are drastically altered. Frustrated with the apathy of the authorities, she decides to take on a journey of discovery and strength to track him down alone.When her son is kidnapped she joins a convoy of ex-cons, prostitutes and Maori warriors heading for the rough mining community of Gold Town. There she meets Joshua McCullen (Jack Davenport: Kingsman: The Secret Service, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Wild Wedding), the owner of the town and a man who is pivotal to uncovering the truth behind the disappearance of her son.
THE STOLEN also boasts an impressive supporting cast including Graham McTavish (Creed, The Hobbit, Outlander, Preacher), Cohen Holloway (What we do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Stan Walker (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The X Factor New Zealand, Australian Idol).
THE STOLEN was directed by Niall Johnson (White Noise, Keeping Mum, The Big Swap) and written, produced and starring Emily Corcoran (Sisterhood, Confine).
Discover this Western action adventure when THE STOLEN arrives in selected cinemas 3 November 2017. For fans of films such as The Missing and The Searches – this captivating, emotional story will take you on a journey of strength and discovery into unfamiliar and treacherous lands.
Raindance 2017 reviews:
A cowboy, a mermaid and a bee walk into a lavish mansion. If you’re already sitting up and paying attention, Bees Make Honey is for you. A 1930s murder mystery, it’s a movie that leans into the dated feel of an old joke with such enthusiasm and energy that it’s impossible not to enjoy it and get swept along by its wit.
Alice Eve is on knockout form as Honey, a widow who hires an investigator (Inspector Shoerope – Wilf Scolding) to help her solve the death of her husband. From the off, she seizes the leading lady role with relish, a femme fatale playing the part of a femme fatale with a knowing dash of sass, smarts and shade. Her case? Get Shoerope to join her Halloween costume party, where everyone there is effectively reenacting the same shindig from last year, where her beloved kicked the bucket.
Costumes give way to extreme secrets, hidden plans and unspoken identities, while the production design captures the period vibe with panache, reinforcing the hint of artifice among the authenticity. Director Jack Eve zips across the stylish surface with dazzling visual flourishes, swapping about aspect ratios, slinging out split-screens and zooming into freeze-frames as he goes.
Part of the fun is seeing the announcement of a new filmmaking talent with such confidence – somewhere between Sofia Coppola and Baz Luhrmann, Eve feels like a unique voice racing to express every idea he can. (Adam Gough, whose CV ranges from In Bruges to X-Men: First Class, is an excellent editor, while Richard Stoddard’s cinematography and Ryan Beveridge’s score ooze a knowing class.) But the rest of the fun lies in watching the cast have so much fun with their roles, from The Halcyon’s Hermione Corfield as Honey’s amusing, glamorous friend to a scene-stealing Joshua McGuire, who, after a superb turn on stage in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, is on wise-cracking, slapstick form.
The plot doesn’t amount to as much as you might wish, but the script (also by Eve) never fails to entertain, blending the absurd with the familiar genre tropes, while chucking in swear words to keep things feeling unpredictably modern. By the time Trevor Eve turns up dressed as Captain Hook, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. Produced by Alice and Jack, this is a family affair – and, when it comes to old-school murder mysteries, Agatha Christie fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Somebody snap this up for UK distribution.
Screenings: Saturday 23rd September, 8.15pm / Wednesday 27th September, 1pm
Acclaimed British actress Alice Eve is known for her work in film, television and theatre. She recently starred in an episode of Netflix’s hit series Black Mirror opposite Bryce Dallas Howard.
Her recent film credits include CIA operative Marta Lynch in Criminal, and Brooke Dalton in Before We Go. In 2013, she played Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness opposite Chris Pine. Alice will also star in the upcoming sci-fi thriller Replicas, alongside Keanu Reeves.
In Ordeal by Innocence Alice Eve takes on the role of Gwenda Vaughan. High heels and hourglass figure poured into her clothes. Former secretary to The Argyll Trust for Orphans and Neglected Children, Gwenda’s cunning has elevated her to the position of soon-to-be the second Mrs Argyll.