“I am certainly not method, that’s too much work. ‘Don’t come near me, wipe my ass’,” laughs Josh McConville when we catch him on the phone as he packs boxes for an upcoming house move.
Due to the consistent intensity of his performances, McConville could be forgiven if he was a method actor.
“I’ve always loved Gary Oldman, Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance. They will do anything to challenge themselves, whether it be theatre or film. They try to find nuances in their characters that are different from the characters they did before. And if you work hard at that, then the characters will be different. Gary Oldman has a different accent for everything he does, Meryl Streep is rarely the same. They’re inspirational to me. I also really love Andy Serkis. I’ve seen him do some theatre performances and he’s so technically gifted.”
Whether playing the lead in The Infinite Man, or smaller roles in Down Under, Cleverman, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, 1%, The Merger, Mr Inbetween, Standing Up For Sunny or more recently in Blumhouse thriller Fantasy Island, Josh is consistently one of the most interesting things on screen. And he has finally gotten another chance at a leading role in Escape and Evasion after making such an impression in The Infinite Man.
“The lead role was attractive, but also just the challenge of playing a character I have not played before, in terms of an army man, PTSD, and also it was a good excuse to get fit,” Josh says about his role in Escape and Evasion.
Escape and Evasion was shot in two parts, with a large segment of the film taking place in Myanmar.
“I’ve never done anything that is linear, except theatre,” Josh tells us. “You have to figure out what is happening in scene 7 when you’re filming scene 2. And scene 7 is tomorrow.
“When I went to NIDA, it was more theatre based and working in a linear format. Working out of sequence is something I have learnt through experience, and I am still trying to get better at it because I have much more of a theatre background, which lives and breathes from beginning to end rather than all over the shop.”
The Escape and Evasion part was offered to the actor by writer/director Storm Ashwood, who was a gaffer on the set of The Infinite Man. “He did tell me that he wanted to work with me again,” says Josh today. “I don’t get to choose all that much, but the roles that I am attracted to are the ones that are different to things I have played before.”
In Escape and Evasion, Josh plays Seth, a single dad who seemingly has his act together, but then out of nowhere is struck by shocking memory jolts, disorientating and violent, clearly indicating that he is suffering from PTSD. He meets a woman who wants to help, but also to find out what happened to her brother, who served in Seth’s platoon.
“I have experienced deep grief before, but that’s as close as I could relate to PTSD,” Josh tells us about playing the character. “I had to do quite a bit of research. We were lucky to have some guys who had been to Afghanistan, on set with us, to explain scenarios and what it would be like in the real world.
“I could try for one second to say what they go through, but I can’t because I don’t know. It’s a story that I am trying to represent as best as I can. In terms of soldiers, I assume that you cannot prepare for what you are about to see and be involved in when you go to war. There are more and more people coming out with mental health problems and it’s only getting worse.
“But there is more awareness of mental health issues in jobs and with life in general. I hope that we’re approaching these things with more empathy and understanding, because it’s life threatening.”
Escape and Evasion is in cinemas now.