EastEnders star Jake Wood has long been of the opinion that the lengthy nature of Max Branning’s revenge storyline is what has helped bring it to the most powerful climax possible which we will see play out on Christmas Day. For a year, we have seen Max secretly scheme and plot and Jake reckons that without that intricate and intense build up, the downfall wouldn’t have the impact.
He recently likened to the story to the Max and Stacey affair which at the time was panned by some as dragging out. But he added that all people remember now is the amazing pay-off, proving that sometimes patience does pay off.
However, he admits that the original plan for Max’s revenge plan to play out across three years may have been a bit too much to expect an audience to go along with. Speaking about the story at a recent press event he explained: ‘I wasn’t told the end of the story at the start. I had a year off and have now been back a year. Three or four weeks before I came back Sean O’Connor who was the boss, talked me through it.
‘A lot of this was put in place under Sean – the vision, Max’s revenge was outlined to me then but never the end. Originally I think Sean wanted it to be a three year story; that’s what I was led to believe which was probably too long to be fair. But all the elements were there – Willmott Brown, Max’s revenge and his unravelling but I was never told where it was going to go.
‘Since we got John Yorke and Simon Ashdown back, all the elements that were there anyway as far as I understand it have just been absolutely ramped up and it’s a very quick turnaround in the short time that John has been back with (Head of Continuing Drama) Oliver Kent. I was so delighted to get Simon back who created Max and they’re how we get to the amazing episode you will see on Christmas Day.’
Pondering what makes EastEnders an enduring success, Jake added: ‘I think when it works best, it’s just a mix of great characters in great stories. We don’t have to have explosions and train crashes every week. For me it’s great characters put in extraordinary situations and the audience have empathy with those characters.
‘Our job as actors is to make those characters as human as possible, as real as possible, and look for real reasons why they’re doing those things. If they feel real to us, hopefully the audience can relate to them.’
EastEnders airs its Christmas Day episode on BBC One at 9pm.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”