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September 2007   |   Written by Jonathan Dean

Jamie Bell is Hallam Foe – voyeuristic pervert or confused kid? Total Film sits him down with object of affection Sophia Myles to talk obsession and ogling…

Clambering over the rooftops of Edinburgh, Hallam Foe (Jamie Bell) is looking for Kate Breck (Sophia Myles) – the HR girl at the hotel where the 17-year-old misfit’s landed a kitchen porter job. Haunted by an unhealthy mother complex, Hallam likes nothing better than stalking her while she works, cooks and screws. There’s Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho right there – the roofs, the voyeurism, the mum-love; Young Adam director David Mackenzie having crafted a film imbued with Hitchcock, yet uniquely his own. (Hence our wheeze of shooting the stars in stark, Hitch-riffing shadow). In between the moody glares and provocative stares, leads Bell and Myles tell Total Film what it’s all about…

Jamie Bell: There’s definite Hitchcock in there, even if directors usually keep their homages to themselves. David Mackenzie was definitely conscious of Hitch when he was making the film, but this is a hard film to advertise. It’s a coming-of-age story essentially, but there are so many different parts. People’s interpretations are very interesting.

Sophia Myles: It’s weird, because for us the initial emotion is the memory of shooting – it’s only on a second or third viewing that you can watch it objectively. It’s so romantic. And quite sweet.

JB: I think everyone can identify with Hallam. He’s so oddball you can’t help but be intrigued.

SM: What I like about David is that he deals with real people, he’s honest about the human condition and how we al battle with our demons on a daily basis. We don’t play black-and-white characters, they’ve all got their own battles going on inside their heads. For me, once my character Kate gets over the shock of seeing Hallam watching her every move, she sees an innocence and purity underneath it all.

JB: Yeah, I never had a problem thinking people wouldn’t like Hallam, because he’s portrayed as a kid with a problem letting go and moving on. It’s a fine line, because voyeurism is often seen as involving perverted old men. Or women! We tried to move away from looking at voyeurism as a sexual thing and instead focused on Hallam learning about life.

SM: Underneath it all, Kate’s intrigued by him because his approach to everything is so off the cart. She works in such a formulaic world… What I liked about it – and I don’t think you see this often – is that it’s a relationship between an older girl and a younger guy. It’s usually the other way around and if it’s our way round then she’s some sort of unattainable figure. I like the fact that they do get it together. It’s complicated.

JB: He’s quite an obsessive person – lock-picking, things like that – which I think is all a tool to take his mind off things. As a person, he’s worked out how to not necessarily show how he feels.

SM: You read a script like this once in a blue moon.

JB: It’s very rare, but I’d rather be on a small film like this for eight weeks and really get into it with the character, than get stuck on a long studio movie in font of a green screen for nine months. It was just fun to be in something British that wasn’t a fucking period drama. It’s an original and heartfelt story, and there’s a serious lack of those.

SM: I actually don’t quite know what to say apart from go see it and take away from it what you will! Like Jamie said, it’s one of those films that will touch people in different ways and on different levels – there are so many things going on and I’m not at liberty to say that it’s ‘really’ about.

Hallam Foe opens on 31 August