The Giant Star Jack Kilmer Talks the Genre-Bending New Thriller

For most students, the arrival of summer vacation comes with mixed emotions, as the excitement felt by weeks of freedom is almost matched by the fact that, for every day that passes, you get that much closer to having to return to school. Adding to those intrinsic mixed emotions would be a graduation, as it marks a major transition from one point in your life to another, which also comes with more responsibility. In the new film The Giant, that ominous feeling of incoming responsibility is manifested in ambiguous yet potentially frightening ways. The Giant is now available On Demand.

On her graduation night, Charlotte learns her first love has returned to her small Georgia town for the first time since vanishing the year before, in the midst of an awful trauma in her life. But on that night, a girl her age is found dead – and then another. Something terrible has arisen in this place, and as her final summer speeds towards a nightmarish conclusion, Charlotte gets the unshakeable feeling that somehow it is coming for her – in ways more troubling than she could ever know.

ComicBook.com caught up with The Giant star Jack Kilmer to talk about the ambiguity of the film, diverse career, and superhero opportunities.

jack kilmer the giant movie
(Photo: Vertical Entertainment)

ComicBook.com: Before we get into The Giant, I did want to point out that you were in The Nice Guys, which is easily one of the best comedies of the last decade. Just wanted to put it out there that I'd appreciate it if you could get in touch with director Shane Black to make a sequel happen.

Jack Kilmer: Hey. We've got to get Shane Black on the line.

If you could just get him on the line, I'd appreciate it. That movie is great and we need another one.

Thank you. That's so cool.

Despite how fun that was, you also did Lords of Chaos a few years ago, which was much darker. Since you were playing the real-life musician Dead from Mayhem who would go on to kill himself and that you were playing a real person, with your character being depressed, obsessed with death, and ultimately killed himself, was that character harder to shake than other characters you've played?

I had such a good time making the movie. I love music and I'm a huge fan of Mayhem and all of those Norwegian bands, so, for me, I got to nerd out and have an excuse to listen to black metal for a month and, yeah, it was dark, but it's all pretend, isn't it? So we made sure to keep the comedy going on set. Keep the mood up.

I appreciated how the film accurately painted the Norwegian black metal scene as these performative figures who were more invested in appearing dark and mysterious and how it was just a facade more than anything else, as opposed to these people being "iconic" musicians.

Well, thank you.

Your character in The Giant, however, feels a lot more grounded. Does your preparation for a role vary with every project or do you have a similar process each time, but you just make slight changes or adjustments depending on what the project is?

It's so different every time. I think the character's already there, I just have to serve the script and the vision of the director. In this case, in The Giant, David Raboy was really inspired and he made it really easy. He brought so much mojo and attitude to the film.

This is Raboy's first feature, and you've starred in a number of directorial debuts. Are you more excited to collaborate with emerging artists for their debut films or has that just been a number of coincidences in your career?

I don't know. It's just a coincidence.

Since you got into modeling before acting and were somewhat reluctant to act, do you have that reluctance with all projects? Whereas some performers might be willing to work on a project for the chance to work with a specific director, for example, do you find that a project you're interested in really has to resonate with you in that many more ways?

Not really. I'm just attracted to stuff that I like, like the movies that I want to be in are the movies that I'd want to watch. I don't know. I guess it's just my taste. It's like, if that reflects in my work, then it does. But I just try to do stuff that I connect with, like it got written for me.

The Giant, as well as other movies like Palo Alto or Woodshock, have this Terrence Malick quality to them, where the cinematography is very tactile and naturalistic and is just as engaging when muted as when hearing the dialogue.

Well, thank you.

So how did the director convey how the film would look to you in ways that the script couldn't really capture?

Well, he doesn't really, and I don't know what it's like to be another actor and work with him, but he doesn't explain anything. Sometimes it was frustrating, but it's also, he made sure to listen to his actors and we had a lot of input in how the characters turned out, and he would put in the time with us. And because of that, I really trusted him. I was able to see that he was a talented artist, and once I saw that, I just trusted him even more.

The Giant sort of defies distinction, but there's some strong horror vibes in it. Are you a fan of horror films or have any particular favorites?

I think The Shining is maybe my favorite horror movie, if you could even call it a horror film. So there's definitely some kind of a ghost in that movie that is haunting.

Going along with that undefinable nature, The Giant has a lot of ambiguities in what threats are real and tangible and which are metaphorical. Do you feel that, as a part of this project, you needed to have the "answers" to play your part or do you feel that you were just a tool being used by the director to bring the script to life?

Oh, I like that question. I'm constantly thinking about that when I'm going into these movies because sometimes you really need the answer. You've got to know what is going on so that the audience can be interested in the movie. You have to know where you're going with it. But sometimes you might make these decisions, and then you're so focused on that that you might miss, you might get distracted and try to force your vision onto the movie, so it's really a balance. With this, I was really lucky that my co-star, Odessa Young, her and I, we had a lot of free time and we got to sit down and actually talk through our backstory, and it happened really naturally just one night. I think I just looked at her and it was like, "Oh, Odessa's not here anymore. This is the character speaking," kind of thing. It sounds cheesy, but that's what happened, and yeah, I hope it comes through. I think it did come through.

And the whole movie deals in subtleties and ambiguities, the viewer has to interpret glances and body language to determine those relationships and they all feel organic.

Well, thanks. I think we all had a really strong bond on this movie. It was really one of those movies that you think about doing where you become friends with everybody and everyone's supportive of each other and creative. But it's also a bit like life. You may think you know what you're doing and you know where you're going with life, but then something happens and then you question everything. The Giant's kind of ambiguous, but it also really hits hard in a lot of other areas. I think it's pretty powerful that way.

Since you have so many artistic outlets, when it comes to making a movie like The Giant, which premiered over a year ago and is only just now getting released, are you more invested in the act of creating art regardless of an audience or viewer, or do you more look forward to seeing people interact with the art you create?

Man, I'm really not sure. I don't know, just something happened when we all got to Georgia, and we got to explore the woods, and go swimming in these lakes, and watch the sunset. You just get so taken away with all the acting. It's like, with me, I just get carried away and, yeah, once it was over, once we had stopped filming, I had done my job and I didn't really think much about what was going to happen with the movie. I hope, obviously, it gets the widest audience possible. And I think it could be very popular with a wide audience.

You've done more independent films, but with your dad having played Batman in Batman Forever, would you be interested in doing a big superhero project like that or do you think you lean more towards independent projects?

Oh yeah. I mean, I would. I'm definitely interested in it. I love what Christopher Nolan did with The Dark Knight. And now with Joaquin [Phoenix] doing the Joker, it's just getting so that the envelope is just being pushed constantly, and I'm sure Robert Pattinson's going to be awesome in [The Batman]. My dad is very inspiring in that way, because he did a superhero movie and it was really successful, but also controversial, and it changed his career. And there's a reason why these stories and these films are so impactful and so many people respond to them, because you need superheroes now more than ever, in 2020.

Well thanks again for chatting about the film, and next time, let's get Shane Black on the line to make your character the third Nice Guy.

Thank you. Yeah. We're going to get Shane on the line next time. No problem.

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The Giant is now available On Demand.