He is, of course, a name you might not yet have heard of. But trust us, you surely will. This Los Angeles-native is a rising young actor and producer with a performance in this October’s Autumn Lights that would make you think you were watching a performer with an illustrious filmography several pages long. His name? Guy Kent. It’s his unpredictable, leading-man presence that has got us glued to that ruggedly handsome mug and those enigmatic green eyes in this beautifully-shot film from Angad Aulakh, a young American filmmaker who could swing with the best of the European auteurs.
Sharing the screen opposite Italian rising star Marta Gastini – Borgia, The Rite – and Icelandic screen star Sveinn Olafur Gunnarsson – The Deep, Rams – Kent leads an intricate and delicate story about what it means to be human when trying to find your footing in an inhospitable and entirely foreign world. It’s a refreshingly smart and engaging film boasting picks by the New York Film Critics and the famed SoHo House Screening series. This film and this Guy inject a dose of intelligent yet fresh energy into the independent American film landscape.
Kent was born and raised in Los Angeles, and while he grew up within reach of the entertainment industry, this native Angeleno – who feels more Trans-Atlantic if you ask us – chatted with us about all things Autumn Lights.
VULTUREHOUND: Hi, Guy!
GUY KENT: Hey, how’s it going?
Great, thank you. So I’m very curious, how was it shooting in Iceland?
Well, Iceland is incredible! If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to and I feel very lucky to have spent a good amount of time there. It’s a little paradise. And shooting there felt like a dream at times. We’d be going to set in the morning passing these incredible vistas on our way outside of Reykjavik. Morning car rides were silent because we’d just be staring at the landscape.
It looks beautiful in the film! Speaking of, you are not only the lead of Autumn Lights but you also produce the film with your producing partner and director of the film, Angad Aulakh?
Yeah, Angad and I met in Los Angeles after he moved from New York, and very quickly, we began developing projects with one another. About a year and four scripts later, Autumn Lights was born and very quickly after that, we were moving forward into pre-production.
That’s unusually quick. What was that process like?
We hit the ground running with the first script and while that project will make a beautiful film one day, it just wasn’t going to happen on a timeline that we were comfortable with. Angad and I never felt like we were in a position to be waiting. So that led to the second and third scripts. Each successive project was more attune to the elements needed to get a film into production at this scale. The fourth was Autumn Lights.
And speaking of, I have to ask you… In the film you communicate a lot through your presence, your eyes, a look. How were you able to do that with such nuance?
Well, thank you for that! David is a character who has a very complex inner life and it was important not only for character but also for the film that the audience was able to see what was churning underneath. He’s an observer by nature and so it was important to use physicality as a tool to communicate.
Is that what you found to be most compelling about the character?
That was definitely one of them. During the development process, Angad and I spoke at length about David, who and what he stood for in this story, and what approach with him would best serve the film. David is our eyes and ears into this world and so it was important to bring balance to him. He’s someone who has been dealt some very unfortunate experiences and he carries that with him. He’s grappling with so much yet he’s alone, a stranger in a strange land, and that raises the stakes.
And yet while he’s an emotionally-complex character, he remains completely earnest and entirely relatable.
Exactly. But I think there’s a deep complexity and earnestness to each of these characters, despite some of their actions. They all exist in some moral in-between which I find to be incredibly authentic. There’s no ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
That complexity reminds me of films that we don’t see too often, characters who have shades to them, shades that might be unsavory.
Well the inspiration for David was very much so rooted in the past. I was studying Gary Cooper’s performance in High Noon, Max Von Sydow in The Passion of Anna, some of Sean Connery’s Bond. There’s an emotional-subtly and restraint to those performances that was important to imbue David with. It was more about the glimpses of emotion rather than large brushstrokes.
Restraint is the hardest thing to do, isn’t it?
It certainly kept me on my toes. It was crucial for me not to wash away the stakes with subtly, but rather to use subtly to support those stakes. It was a balancing act and a challenge that I more than just enjoyed.
Plans to go back to Iceland?
Switching gears, are we? [he laughs.] I definitely hope so. The film opens in theaters there soon on November 4th, just after it comes out in North America on October 21st.
And from what I can recall, right around your birthday! I was surprised to learn how young you are. There’s a real authoritative, mature presence about you.
I won’t embarrass you any further! We look forward to seeing much more from you!