We spoke with Dominic Monaghan about his new film Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism where he plays a dastardly character named Nockman who is on the hunt for a book that grants its reader special powers. We discussed everything from working on the movie to making people laugh off set and having good times in London. Check out the film’s official synopsis and our interview with the man himself.
Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism tells the story of a young orphan girl, Molly Moon, who comes across a book ‘Hypnotism, An Ancient Art’. Learning its lessons, she hypnotizes her way to stardom in London and becomes rich and famous. But little does she know that an unscrupulous man wants her book. He tracks her to London, kidnaps her dog, Petula and blackmails Molly. In order to get her dog back, she must rob Shorings Bank of all its jewels! And then she must find the friends she has lost from her hypnotic journey. – Based on the Best Selling Book
Dominic Monaghan: Hi Andrew.
Andrew Hawkins: Hello Dominic, how are you sir?
DM: Good, man.
AH: I wanted to talk to you about Molly Moon and get an idea of how you wound up doing this film.
DM: Yeah man, let’s do it.
AH: Alright, very cool. So how were you approached for this, how did you wind up being a part of Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism?
DM: I’d met one of the producers a long time ago, a lady called Ileen Maisel. She was a friend of a friend and we had met a few times in L.A. and New York, just kind of y’know in passing over drinks and socially. And I was doing a movie up in Washington and this script came through my agent and they told me that Ileen was attached, so obviously that kind of peaked my interest ’cause she was someone that I knew. And I read it and I thought there was something I could do with the part, I mean he seemed very ridiculous and kind of silly and I liked the fact that it was a kids movie and that I could have some fun with it. And it was England as well where I come from and it’s always nice to be back in England, and those are the reasons why I did it y’know.
AH: Yeah, it comes across a very British film that sort of has that fantasy element where you, being a despicable bad guy up until about the end, seem to be kind of having fun with it and doing a lot of physical acting. Did you bring anything to the table or just kind of go with what was on the page for your role in the movie?
DM: Well, I knew that you had to be silly and the audience had to laugh at it because y’know there”s not a lot of redeeming qualities about Nockman, and one of the things he does have that’s helpful for an audience is that he’s someone that you can laugh at. So, I started from there really, y’know, “What is a haircut that people can laugh at? What is a mustache people can laugh at? What are clothing choices that people can laugh at?”, and from there created a kind of look and a walk and an attitude and a voice and kind of build the character from there.
I mean he’s not got a lot of people in hiss life that help him out, he’s not got love in his life, he’s not got that many friends in his life. He’s kind of lonely and there were things about him that y’know, are obviously not that great. But, he clearly wants to have those things in his life and be different and make some changes and I think getting to know Molly and the adventure that he goes on really shows him that there’s an alternative life out there that he can have.
AH: Y’know there are a lot of positive messages in the film for kids, and for the parents that are going to be showing this film to their children you are one of the elements of the film that are going to keep the adults interested. Especially with the parts where for example, you have to clean out the “muck” in front of the orphanage; what was it like for you to kind of gear up for those scenes where you really kind of got physically put through the ringer?
DM: Yeah, I always call those scenes “no acting required” because you just do it and there’s not a lot you have to think about. Y’know if you’re running away from a bad guy, you just run away from the bad guy. You don’t have to think about a huge amount of stuff, there’s no emoting going on. “No acting required” scenes are really fun for me because y’know you just are, you’re just being that person and anyone would act like that. If you tell anyone to get into a slurry and clear it out, I think most people would have the same reaction that I had y’know. So that was really fun, I mean the crew were all laughing and joking at me and we did it a bunch of times and it was obviously pretty cold while being disgusting, but it’ll look great in the movie. Those things are kind of easy days because you just react to what’s happening around you.
AH: How was it behind the scenes? You’ve got scenes that you’re shooting with amazing actresses like Joan Collins and Emily Watson. You’ve got the kids that you’re supposed to be the kind of bad guy towards in the film. When it was all off-camera did you guys have a good time?
DM: Yeah, I like young people, I find them really fun to be around so Raffey and I became very good friends very quickly and we had a laugh. I enjoy making people laugh so I did that a lot. I was really excited to work with Emily Watson, someone whose career I’ve watched with great interest over the years. I mean I remember being in New Zealand making Lord of the Rings watching Breaking the Waves and knowing that she was a real truly talent and someone who I was very inspired by as an actor. So it was lovely spending some time with her and just talking about life and acting and she couldn’t have been nicer. And obviously being around Joan Collins a real true legend and someone whose done everything and been there, that was great.
The atmosphere on set was lovely and y’know I’m not from London, I’m from Manchester but I’ve spent a significant enough time in London. I’ve got friends there so when I had the opportunity I would go around London and go to museums and meet up with friends and spend time with them, so it was a really nice experience regardless of the fact that I was playing someone who was a bit lonely and a bit dark. I actually had a very nice time in London.
AH: Were you originally familiar with the book series at all? Did that play in or did you kind of get into that after signing on for this?
DM: I obviously read the book when I was in the film, but the thing that I did know about the book was that my mum had bought it for a few cousins, nephews and nieces. My mum y’know, we have a lot of people in our family and my mum and I are very avid readers and she kind of likes to proofread stuff to make sure that it’s suitable for people that she’s buying it for and she raced through Molly Moon and really liked it. When I told her I was gonna do it she was like, “Oh I bought that for the cousins for Christmas.”, so it was something I knew about. I spent some time with Georgia Byng on set talking about the books and learning about how she wrote them and where she got the characters from.
AH: Very cool. So for this being a good family film, do you think it comes across as one that if the parents have a bunch of kids that want to get their imagination going and watch something that might coincide with Harry Potter or Roald Dahl, do you think this is definitely one for them?
DM: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of positive messages and ideas in the book. I think it’s something that can inspire people. I think there’s some nice positivity in the books and great performances in the movie too. And I think there’s obviously been a gap that’s been left behind by the Harry Potter films and by the kind of Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe things. This is one of those films that I think young people will like because it’s a person their age going through levels of adversity and trying to work out how to navigate their way around adults that are not treating them well and Molly Moon’s a smart little kid. I think she makes some good choices but she also seems to have fun at the same time while she’s doing it.
AH: Are there any final words or anything you’d like to talk about before we get going?
DM: No, I just hope that people get the chance to see it y’know. It’s playing across the country in the states in select cities and hopefully you’re close enough to those places to go check it out. I’m sure at some point it will have a life on TV and DVD. It’s a sweet little movie, it’s well worth seeing.
AH: Well thank you very much for talking with us, it’s been a great time.
DM: Thanks man, nice talking to you too. Have a good day.