George MacKay: 'the darker stuff is weirdly the most enjoyable'

George MacKay: 'the darker stuff is weirdly the most enjoyable'

Young actor takes the lead in creepy horror The Secret of Marrowbone alongside Anya Taylor-Joy, Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth

Even at the age of 26 George MacKay already has an impressive filmography to his name. He made his debut in 2003's big budget adaptation of Peter Pan but it was his lead role in The Proclaimers musical Sunshine of Leith that won him a host of fans. It also proved his versatility with a genre hoping career which has found him starring in Pride, How I Live Now, Captain Fantastic, Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63, BBC drama The Outcast and now in creepy horror The Secret of Marrowbone.

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth and directed by Sergio G Sánchez (best known as writer of The Orphanage and The Impossible) this isn't your run of the mill horror. A period piece set in the 1960s, Marrowbone takes it's time creating characters you genuinely believe in. Then cleverly flips everything you thought you knew in the final act.

We caught up with MacKay while he was in town for the UK premieres of The Secret to Marrowbone at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Without giving too much away what can you tell us about Secret of Marrowbone?
Marrowbone is the story of a family who have run away from their past in England, now living in the middle of nowhere in Maine in America. I play Jack Marrowbone the eldest of four children who's doing everything he can to look after his siblings, living in secret until he turns 21 when he legally able to be their guardian. They have to do a number of things to pay off this lawyer who holds the deeds to the house and through those actions they wake this being connected to their past and the story unfolds from there.

Do you think it's fair to say it's more about family, loss and grief than horror?
I think there's a danger when talking about it that the horror element has been exacerbated. I wouldn't want to mislead people in saying it's not horror but I would be very wary of branding it as purely horror, as I think it is much more emotionally and character driven than genre driven.

It's a multi-layered story was that what attracted you to the project?
When I first auditioned, there wasn't a script but I met Sergio and he explained the way the story unfolds. I just thought that that level of intellectual, emotional and psychological complexity was really fascinating. Sergio has been quite courageous in committing to something so complex rather offering something more spoon-fed.

The Secret of Marrowbone

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • Spain
  • 1h 50min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Sergio G Sánchez
  • Cast: George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton
  • UK release: 13 July 2018

Jack (MacKay) cares for his siblings and ailing mother; when his mother dies, he and local librarian Allie (Taylor-Joy) try to protect the family by creating the illusion that she’s still alive. A wealth of detail in this haunted house story makes up for a lack of scares, and it’s a sober, well-constructed riff on genre…