Canadian actress Tara Yelland has a lot to look forward to over the next year, and a large part of that has to do with her role in the highly anticipated film Small Crimes.
Yelland will be on the big screen beside Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays the iconic Jamie Lannister in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones.
The film is about Joe, adisgraced former cop (played by Coster-Waldau), fresh off a six-year prison sentence for attempted murder. He returns home looking for redemption but winds up trapped in the mess he left behind. Yelland plays Toni. She's the star-attraction at the local strip club in small town, industrial upstate New York. She is enlisted by Joe to help with a dangerous blackmailing attempt.
“I got to do so many things I had never done before on this film, like stunts, guns firing, and lots of blood,” said Yelland. “I can't say too much, but things definitely get dark. It was a blast.”
The role gave her the chance to show that she can play a darker, more hardened character, which is a new experience for the actress.
“The props guy had to teach me all about drug paraphernalia and how to use it and it was actually a lot of fun,” she described. “But only for pretend! Say no to drugs, kids.”
There are not very many similarities between the young vibrant actress and the character of Toni.
“She may not have many outwardly redeeming characteristics, but I have a lot of sympathy for her. I see her as trapped in a bad place with a lot of destructive influences and people in her life,” said Yelland. “I like to think that beneath her hardened exterior, she's just as vulnerable as anyone else. She’s just a woman looking for a way out.”
The caliber of the people involved with the project made the experience for Yelland. In addition to Coster-Waldau, the cast includes Michael Kinney (Degrassi), Molly Parker (House of Cards), Gary Cole (VEEP), and Oscar nominees Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) and Robert Forester (Jackie Brown). The film will be directed E.L. Katz. His directorial debut Cheap Thrills, premiered at SXSW where it won the Midnighter Audience award. David Lancaster of Rumble Films is producing, whose past films include Drive, Nightcrawler, and the Oscar Nominated Whiplash.
“It's exciting to be involved with a film you really believe in. The script is fantastic and the cast is phenomenal,” said Yelland. “I'm such a fan of Nikolaj’s performance on Game of Thrones that I wondered if it would be strange to act with him, but it wasn't at all. Nikolaj is such a grounded actor and he's a great scene partner because he truly listens and he's very present. Evan has a clear vision and he knows what he wants. He is a very steady, calming anchor on set. I trusted him and that's the defining feature of a good director. David Lancaster has worked on such highly acclaimed projects that it gives me great confidence that this film will live up to the rest. He knows how to do dark and gritty.”
And with a cast filled with seasoned acting veterans, Yelland not only held her own, but impressed.
“I had the pleasure of working with Tara on the feature film Small Crimes. Tara and I had a brief, but intense scene together involving intimacy, gunfire, and a whole lot of blood. On-set, Tara was friendly, with an easy-going demeanor that made working with her a treat. In complex scenes, with many moving parts, actors need to trust each other. Tara and I clicked, instantly. Off-set, Tara was great. She struck up conversations with cast and crew. It was a tough shoot, but Tara managed to find the humor in things, which lightened the mood for everyone,” said Michael Kinney. “My scene with Tara took place in a cramped motel room, with at least ten male crew standing by. Tara was fitted with an elaborate, special effects rig, which was barely hidden by her character’s revealing wardrobe. The entire scene, stunts and all, needed to happen in one take! I’ve been a professional actor for more than 20 years, and have worked with A-Listers who have actually walked off the set under less challenging circumstances. Tara performed the scene beautifully, with remarkable focus and composure! She is a real pro. I’d work with her any day.”
The film will have a 2017 theatrial release, which was announced at this year’s Cannes Film Festival by Memento Films Intl.