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Mark Gatiss Discusses The Relevance Of His World War I Movie The Road Dance - Exclusive

This interview contains references to sexual assault.

Multitalented Mark Gatiss has been a part of some of the most beloved movies and TV shows in pop culture history. Not only has he starred in critically acclaimed films like "The Father" and "The Favourite," he's written and appeared in multiple episodes of "Doctor Who" and co-created and played Mycroft Holmes in "Sherlock." Now, in his latest film, "The Road Dance," Gatiss depicts Doctor Maclean, a small-town doctor whose avuncular bearing hides dark secrets.

"The Road Dance" centers on the fallout from a sexual assault that happens at a dance in a small village in the Scottish Hebrides the night before all the young men leave to fight in World War I. It's a challenging but powerful story about survival in the face of enormous suffering and loss, and even though it depicts a time period very different from our own, the story still speaks to issues relevant in the present day. In an exclusive interview with Looper, Gatiss discussed why "The Road Dance" will resonate with viewers.

It's still an all too common story, sadly

In "The Road Dance," Kirsty Macleod (Hermione Corfield) does her best to keep the assault that happened against her to herself, and Gatiss pointed out that, although the character's reasons for this differ from women today who may choose not to report sexual assaults, in certain ways, Macleod's experience is shockingly similar. "[After the assault,] the big question, apart from physical survival, for Kirsty, is what it does to her reputation," Gatiss observed. "I guess that's very different now. ... It's a staggering fact to me that in [the U.K.], 1% of rapes are prosecuted — 1%. It seems amazing to me that when there have been so many strides elsewhere — the #MeToo movement, for instance — that, as it were, that the most dramatic and ghastly part of all that is so little prosecuted, almost to the extent where it's almost normalized now. It might be expected."

For Gatiss, the movie also spotlights the way in which some men inflict harm on the world. "The bit [of 'The Road Dance'] that really stayed with me is when Kirsty, after what's happened, is walking down the high street and she flinches from all the men who pass her, all of them," Gatiss shared. "It seemed to me that the film is about men going away and how the women survive, and yet they're not safe, even when they're on their own, from men and from the destructive power of men. That's what we are living with at the moment, isn't it? We're seeing more boys sent away by stupid old men with inferiority complexes, and here we go again."

"The Road Dance" had its U.S. debut at the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Mark Gatiss can next be seen in "Operation Mincemeat," which will be available on Netflix sometime in 2022, and "Mission: Impossible 7," which is scheduled to be released in 2023.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).