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The Unique Role(s) That Rory Kinnear Plays In The New Horror Movie Men - Exclusive

"Men," the new horror movie from "Ex Machina" and "Annihilation" writer-director Alex Garland, has a total cast of seven actors, with only four of those – Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, and Gayle Rankin — in what you would consider major speaking roles. But out of those four, Rory Kinnear is assigned one of the most unusual and unsettling acting performances in years.

Buckley (in a stunning performance) plays Harper, a young London woman whose life is turned upside down by the emotionally shattering dissolution of her marriage and the death of her husband James (Essiedu). Needing a break, she rents a large country house in a small, remote English village. While there, she is beset by a series of unsettling incidents involving local men: The house's seemingly jocular owner pries into her private life, the church vicar gives her some unwelcome attention and counsel, a little boy taunts her, and — perhaps worst of all — a naked stalker follows her out of the woods while she's on a walk.

As Harper goes through these and other encounters, it becomes apparent in Garland's surreal film that all the men have the same face — and all (plus others) are played by Kinnear in a hallucinatory, shape-shifting performance that is both an eerie representation of primordial forces and a metaphor for the ever-present threat of toxic masculinity.

Kinnear told Looper in an exclusive interview that his instinct in taking on this unorthodox job was to underplay each role as much as possible: "The first thing I said to Alex, when I met up with him, was that this couldn't be an acting exercise or a display of chameleonic talents," he said. "It can't be about me."

How Rory Kinnear learned he would play the Men

Rory Kinnear said he found out relatively early in the process what his role(s) in "Men" would entail. "I can't remember if it was in the script, but certainly that was the note that came through when I was offered it," he recalled. "It's pretty intriguing and pretty exciting as an actor to be able to do all of that within the space of 90 minutes."

Kinnear added that it was important that the casting would not just be a stunt, and that each of the men he plays in the movie — which also include a police officer, a pub owner, two farmhands, and a manifestation of the mythic Green Man – be as distinct from each other as possible.

"There's no getting away from the fact that it will be a disconcerting or disquieting experience when you get to be aware that is it the same person," he explained. "That was part of Alex's intention, but within each scene, each character has to breathe and speak and behave just as credibly and individually as any other job you would do."

Kinnear said that differences in make-up or hair were meant to keep the viewer off-balance at first, until the realization that all the men are wearing the same face hits. "[Like] with Geoffrey [the house owner]," said Kinnear. "There was always going to be a slight disconcerting thing the first time you met him, a slight questioning as to the casting ... until, as the film goes on, you realize, 'Oh, that is meant to be a disquieting effect — it's been chosen deliberately.'"

"Men" is playing in theaters now.