Created on 14 May 2013
The first actor I interviewed involved with Copperhead was Josh Cruddas, which happened right after filming began. We just went for the basics and he promised me another interview once filming ended, to give a better picture of his overall experience. Since I am lucky enough to have already seen the movie, I can say that Josh does a wonderful job in the role of Jimmy, who is kind of like the main character, Abner Beech's, adopted son. Copperhead begins with Josh reciting the opening narration, setting the stage for the story to come---some of that narration can be heard in the voice-over on the trailer. As good of an actor as Josh is though, he is an even better person. We have remained in touch all this time, and I am proud to know such an aspiring young actor, who has such a bright future ahead of him. Though he has acted before, hopefully this will serve as his "big break". At the end of our interview, Josh added, "All in all, playing Jimmy in Copperhead was a life-changing adventure for me, and I've made many new friends while creating a film that I believe will be something special. I need to thank Ron for giving me the chance to be in a picture like this, and I'm so grateful for the support I've received from everyone involved in the production and from folks back home and around the world. I feel very blessed." Below is our full interview. Enjoy!
JOSH CRUDDAS — ACTOR
GC: What were your overall experiences like in working on this film? And for director Ronald Maxwell?
JC: It's pretty hard to capture all of my thoughts about this question in a single answer, but I'll try! I would have to say that doing Copperhead was one of the most amazing experiences I've had in my young life. Working with Ron was simply an honor and a treat, and working and playing with my fellow actors was absolutely wonderful. Ron is an actor's director, which is fantastic, but he also doesn't sacrifice looking at the bigger picture when making a film, which I think is such an incredible gift - to be able to balance things like that. Also, when we were on set, everyone (actors, crew) was on their A-game at all time, and it inspired me, I think, to become a better actor just from watching everyone else work. Of course, when we weren't working, it was just as great because we all bonded closely and quickly and had lots of fun around Fredericton!
GC: What was the most difficult part of filming? Were there any funny moments behind-the-scenes
JC: The most difficult part? Being done and having to leave the set! Otherwise. As an actor, I guess I would have to say that it's sometimes difficult getting to a place of deep sadness or loss in a scene because you're doing something you absolutely love for a living. However, that's part of my job, and perhaps because I was on an amazing set, I think I was inspired more to dig deeper and get to that level of emotion when I was surrounded by brilliant actors who made it look easy. For example, on our first day of shooting, Lucy (Boynton) and I had a scene in which she had to be quite emotional, and I had to remain steady. As it's a big scene for our first day, I remember being pretty nervous and couldn't imagine what Lucy must've been feeling. However, she did what she had to do brilliantly, and it was then that I realized how lucky I was to be working with these folks and how I had to make sure my level of work was up to par. I hope it was! In terms of funny moments, I think I could point to pretty well every day and find something pretty hilarious. However, most might only be funny to those who were there, but there's one instance I can definitely remember. It was the end of the day in early June when we were just about to go home when I was told by a couple of our great production assistants (in worried tones) that Ron wanted to speak with me in his trailer - and it was urgent. After racking my brains for a few seconds, wondering if I had done anything terribly wrong, I gingerly knocked on the door, only to be greeted by shouts of "Happy birthday!!" and some inspired singing. Members of the cast, crew and production team had all crammed themselves into Ron's trailer and, along with a couple of cakes, surprised me on my birthday with a celebration! It was something I'll never forget.
GC: Do you have a favorite scene?
JC: Another tough question! I think in terms of having the most fun, the opening shot of the movie was a blast to shoot; it was simply the guys of Copperhead, including Augustus (Prew), Francois (Arnaud) and I, walking down a long hill joking around with each other. Also, there's a scene in which the young characters take part in a barn dance, together with dozens of extras. This scene was simply a joy to make; all of us were having the time of our lives, cheered on by the amazing background performers who lined the walls of the intricately dressed barn. Being a big brother myself, I always enjoyed entertaining the little kids (who were background performers) between takes in scenes like that - a happy set was always much more fun to work on! As an actor, I loved the "two-hander" (two-person) scenes that I was able to be a part of. Billy (Campbell) and I have one which is quite emotional, and, looking back, I must just say how lucky I was to be able to do it. When you have two actors giving their all, surrounded by a brilliant director, cinematographer and crew, there's a crazy kind of magic in the scene and it's palpable. Definitely one of those incredible moments in an actor's life.
GC: I just have to ask about that Facebook status you posted a while back bout playing Foosball against Angus Macfadyen. How did that work out?
JC: Oh yes, that time...Well, most of the cast decided to go out to eat to celebrate the end of a long week, and we ended up at a restaurant which had a foosball table in the back corner. I, foolishly, asked Angus (Macfadyen) if he wanted to play a game, as we were both soccer fans and I had a feeling I could at least challenge him a bit. He obviously accepted, and proceeded to beat me in two straight games. I wish I could say the matches were close, but after I scored a couple of goals in the first game, he decided that was enough, and proceeded to shut me out afterwards, if I remember correctly. Another time, after a cast barbeque at the river's edge, he, Billy, Hugh (Thompson) and I were kicking around a soccer ball, and the two of us tried to see who could "juggle" the ball the longest without letting it hit the ground. I'm pretty sure he won that little contest too! I had a lot of fun working with Angus, as I did with everyone!
I would like to thank Josh very much for taking the time to conduct this interview! I also wish him the best of luck in his future ventures!
KATE ROSE — COSTUME DESIGNER
Costume designers may sometimes be underrated members of a film production crew, because more often than not, we do not realize exactly how much work goes into fitting hundreds of cast-members, even though we find ourselves staring right at them on the screen. For a history-related film more than any other, it is of the utmost importance that the clothing the characters are wearing is correct, especially with a director at the helm who is known to go for an authenticity down to the buttons on a coat or shirt. While many of the background extras were members of the living history settlement where Copperhead was filmed, all of their clothing was not dated to the Civil War time period, as they portray late-1800's Canadian townspeople and farmers, not upstate New Yorkers from the 1860's. Thus the tedious journey began, to not only design uniforms for the various soldiers who come in and out of the film (and whose uniforms are well-documented), but to come up with accurate renditions of the clothing "normal" people of the time would wear. The immense task of fitting the cast of Copperhead fell to Kate Rose, who has eighteen other titles of work to her name, spanning both film and television. Having seen the film already, I would like to comment that she did an outstanding job. It may be ironic, but sometimes it takes a person to not even notice the costumes to realize how great a job the designer did. What I mean is, because everything looked so real, both clothing and scenery wise, sometimes it is easy to forget we are watching a movie, and only when we step back do we say, "Wow". Simple but elegant would be the proper way to describe her work. I had the chance to interview Kate by email. Our conversation is below:
GC: How did you first get involved with the Copperhead production?
KR: I became involved with the Copperhead production the old fashioned way. I interviewed for the job! I knew Ron Maxwell only by cinematic reputation before that interview.
GC: Describe what you went through in order to get the costumes made accurately.
KR: During a period build, there is always a great deal of research. I have a small private library of costume reference books and , of course, the resources of the world wide web. Research involved not only silhouette and palette but also historically correct options for fabrics,trims, notions, undergarments and footwear. I sourced most of my fabrics in Montreal and Toronto and had hats and shoes made locally by excellent and knowledgeable craftspeople. Because I was invited on the initial location scout to Kings Landing I saw the set before I had to make costume choices which was most helpful.
GC: What was the hardest part of the costume design?
KR: The biggest challenge with the design was to keep it honest and simple. These characters are rural northerners who worked for a living. I wanted the garments to look like their clothes, not costumes.
GC: Take us through your typical day during the production.
KR: A typical day begins an hour before main crew call at base camp to ensure that all is well before the cast travels to set. Traveling back and forth between base camp and set is required to establish new costume pieces and prepare for the coming day's scenes. Fittings for the day players are scheduled throughout the day. Adjustments are made on chosen pieces and photos of each costume are sent to Ron for approval. Once approved, the costumes must be altered and "broken down" or distressed to avoid looking newly constructed. As well, principal costume builds continued throughout production. Repairs, changes, shifts in schedule and completely unforeseen happenings occurred on a daily basis. The days were long and very busy for my department. I was extremely fortunate to have an amazing team working with me!
GC: Did you have an interest in the Civil War or American history prior to your involvement?
KR: Ironically, I did my MFA south of the Mason-Dixon line at Ole Miss. I spent three years in Oxford, Mississippi experiencing the American South first hand, so this was naturally a subject of great interest to me.
I would like to thank Kate for taking the time to conduct this interview! She was also kind enough to share some more of the original design sketches of her work. Please enjoy!