There’s a familiar face leading the folk horror in Orphan: First Kill director William Brent Bell‘s Lord of Misrule. Ralph Ineson (The Witch, Green Knight) takes a villainous turn in Bell’s latest, playing a character initially written as a woman.
Magnet Releasing will release Lord of Misrule in theaters and on VOD on December 8, 2023.
The film follows “Rebecca Holland (Tuppence Middleton), who has recently taken over as priest of a small town. When her young daughter Grace (Evie Templeton) goes missing at the local harvest festival, a desperate search begins. The closer they edge towards finding Grace, the more secrets emerge from the town’s dark past. Soon, Rebecca must decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice to rescue her daughter from the grip of evil.”
The director revealed in a recent chat with Bloody Disgusting that Ralph Ineson’s character, Jocelyn Abney, was initially conceived as a woman by screenwriter Tom de Ville (The Quiet Ones). He shared the story of how the gender-flipped role came to be.
Brent Bell explains, “It’s a pretty crazy story. I’ve known Ralph for a long time, and I’ve worked with him on more than one thing. We’re friends, and I knew I wanted him to be involved in the movie. I didn’t know what part, and I knew we’d be casting. So, when we cast Tuppence, I went, and I had drinks with him in his local pub, which, in and of itself, was hilarious. It’s like his living room. His kids and dogs were there, and everybody knows him, and everybody’s buying us beers and stuff. It was very cool.”
“He read the script,” the director continues. “Since we cast Tuppence, it didn’t really feel appropriate that he would play her husband. He said that first off. He goes, ‘But I would play the Green Man,’ who was the guy that does the festival at the beginning. And he had just come off The Green Knight. I was like, ‘Well, that’s almost like a cameo.’ That’s a pretty cool thing for him to offer up, but right before I came, I was with the producer the night before, and we were trying to cast the lead for Jocelyn.
“Jocelyn was written as a 70-year-old woman. We were already in pre-production and casting, had been working on the movie for years, and it was a woman. You know? This witchy woman was the ringleader of the town. The casting was going so-so. I wasn’t excited yet. I was like, ‘What if I asked Ralph to play Jocelyn?‘
“So, I went and saw him. We talked for an hour, and he said, ‘I love the script. I am too young for the husband.” I asked, ‘What about if you play Jocelyn?’ You know? He was just like, ‘Wait a minute. I have to think about that.’ I said, ‘Not as a woman, but you, your take.’
“Then, we just spent a couple of hours talking about that. He said, ‘Yeah, I want to do this.’ We got to think of another name for the character, like Jack. The next morning, both of us called each other, and we both were like, ‘Yeah, Jocelyn. Let’s stick with the name.’ I still refer to that character as a her, even when talking with him.”
Brent Bell explains, “We already were knee-deep in prep and everything, and everybody was like, ‘Hey guys, so Jocelyn is Ralph.’ The producers didn’t question it. They were like, ‘That’s fucking awesome. Let’s do it.’ Costume was like, ‘All right, complete redefine.’ The writer said, “I love Ralph, but I wrote this amazing female character. I have to rewrite the whole character now.’ I told him no, don’t change anything. Don’t change a word. It’s just going to be his interpretation of that character.’
“There were changes, like at the beginning, when he takes off his clothes. She had a gown and just let the gown go and walked into her backyard or her garden, but we made him this kind of stodgy school teacher who doesn’t really clean his clothes. He very meticulously took his clothes off, so those were the way he changed the character, but I can’t see it any other way now. But it was never the true intention. That’s what I love about movies: being able to just have ideas. Don’t worry about what was on the page.”
Stay tuned for more from our chat ahead of Lord of Misrule‘s release this Friday.