Telling the story of Martin (Andy Nyman, pictured above), The Glass Man delves into the life and mind of a man whose perfect life, with the perfect wife (Neve Campbell) is shattered when a loan shark, Pecco (James Cosmo), calls at their home in the dead of night to collect what he’s owed. Pecco offers an ultimatum – lose everything or be his accomplice for the evening.
As Andy and Pecco hurtle towards the terrible deed that Martin must perform, it starts to become clear that Pecco’s intentions are even darker than they appear…
We spoke to Andy Nyman about the importance of discussing male mental illness and why The Glass Man is such a personal film for him…
When did you first become involved in The Glass Man?
Eleven years ago! The film was shot ten years ago, then it got tangled up with a bit of legal nonsense that has taken the best part of eight years to untangle and finally, here we are! It’s thrilling for people to actually be able to see it!
What’s it like coming back to the movie after all these years?
I’m delighted to be talking about The Glass Man finally. I remember it very vividly but I watched it last night for the first time since. It had one screening. It had its premiere at FrightFest and it got just amazing reviews and a phenomenal reaction from the audience. Then, because of this legal stuff, no one has seen it since. I was really surprised at what a difficult watch it is last night! Honestly I really found it a grim old watch. It really is.
I remember it very vividly because it was not that grim to shoot. Jimmy Cosmo is just an amazing actor and Neve [Campbell]’s great fun as well. So the actual work was lovely and satisfying as Cristian [Solimeno]’s script is very good and he’s a really wonderful, free director to work with.
But as you get deeper into the story it’s definitely tough. Actually, personally, it was a tough one as well because for me at that time we had just found out that my wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thank God she’s still here 11/12 years later, still getting treatment [but] it was very, very difficult doing some of that stuff. So watching that back, all the stuff about losing your wife and the male mental health stuff. It was really not spoken about a decade ago, whereas now we’re well aware that male suicide figures are insanely disproportionate.
So the two of those things combined, rewatching it last night just made me realise this was very raw stuff to shoot. For a little tiny film, it’s got quite a punch to it I think.
As you mentioned, the film delves into themes such as male suicide, what are your thoughts on genre movies that discuss important subjects like this?
People who don’t get genre, especially horror… and I use horror in its broadest term because The Glass Man is a horrific film, but whether it’s a horror film or not is debatable. It’s really a drama with horrible aspects, but nevertheless something that falls under genre, people who don’t get it or don’t watch it think it’s all subversive stuff and it’s rubbish that’s just made to make you jump. It’s nasty and gory and blah blah blah… But the truth of it is horror and again, in its broadest terms, has always pushed the boundaries and introduced topics that need talking about and things that are going on in the world that are horrific that need attention.
I know Cristian has had suicides in his life, of friends. Strangely, since this, one of my best friends killed himself. So I think there’s a sort of an accumulative factor in that the horror genre has always been created by people who are very sensitive to that stuff and then want to do something about it. Whether that’s George A Romero looking at the situation for black [people] in America, or looking at what the fuck is happening with materialism with Dawn Of The Dead.
It’s funny I’ve gone straight to [George A Romero] and now I’m thinking about all of it. All the stuff and Reaganism and the people under the stairs. Romero [and] Carpenter do those things without banging you over the head with it. If you look at Get Out (which is probably the most recent example of a zeitgeist horror film) – that was two years ahead of Black Lives Matter. It’s amazing.
So I think that that’s always happened In the genre and will always happen I hope.
The other thing is that I truly believe the good ones, the brilliant ones [are] the ones that have got something to say. Saw as an example, which I just thought was the most extraordinary film, is basically saying ‘there’s something wonderful in each and every one of your lives. Stop moaning, look at your life and be grateful for everything that you have’. You have a platform where we take the message of: ‘How much do you want to live now? Are you prepared to gouge your own eye out? You’ve got a minute and a half to do it, and if you want to live enough, you’ll do it’ – talk about an amazing lens to put that message in and then have brilliant twists and turns along the way!
But that’s the thing I love about the genre: it’s there for you if you want it. If you don’t want it, you’ll just hopefully have a good time and fun, or get scared.
What do you look for when choosing a project?
It really varies. Ultimately all I’m interested in is a good script. If you look at Judy as an example. I mean number one, the opportunity of working with Renée Zellweger was amazing and [director] Rupert Goold [who] I’ve never worked with. But then those scenes were just so phenomenally written. Such a perfect little world to enter. That’s all I look for really and the amazing thing is you know in [just] ten lines. The second you start reading, you just know [if] this is brilliantly written. There’s a flow to it, and a thought to it.
I realise as I look at my body of work… So much of what I’ve done are extreme characters. I mean emotionally very raw and out there. Not just horror, but across the board. I don’t really know why that is because I don’t think I’m an extreme person. Maybe it’s something about the way I look [haha]!
I don’t know but it’s such a thrill to be able to talk about this film and to talk about it now, when it really feels like we’re in the middle of the strangest time we’ve ever known, and that the ripples of this are going to go on for years.
It’s hugely difficult for everyone and male mental health is massive because as much as we progress, you are entrenched with what your roles are supposed to be as a man – provider, breadwinner, protector. Rightly or wrongly, there’s just something about our conditioning or something about our DNA that forces that. Mental health issues can start with ‘I don’t really feel like I’m a provider’ or whatever those things are. It’s so hard and it’s gonna get harder.
You and James Cosmo have some great two-hander conversations – how heavily did you two work on those scenes?
It was actually a really interesting way to work, and it was a way that I had never worked [before]. Normally I am very, very prepped. Jimmy, I don’t know what he’s like normally, but on this, it was very loose, so we didn’t learn it. We’d have the script and we’d rehearse it with the script two or three times, and then we’d just do it! I kind of felt the same thing last night – it was staggering to me what a certain flow it had, actually. There was a sort of freedom to it. I think maybe because we were both very in the moment with it. We’d literally learn it two or three times and then put the script away, as opposed to what is very often the way which is you learn it, learn it, learn it, and you go in solid as a rock and then you can play, which I also really like. But it was very free and Jimmy is just the most amazing actor!
It feels very organic on the screen…
It really does. I was surprised as well at how touching it is. But it’s a real testament to Jimmy’s ability as well to go from being terrifying, to being so gentle and nurturing, giving you the most confidence you could possibly have. He’s a truly brilliant actor.
The Glass Man will be available on Sky Store, Apple/ iTunes, Google Play, YouTube and Amazon from 7 December.