Rose Leslie, Ygritte from Game of Thrones, is accustomed to working in severe locales, like Iceland, so she’s only half joking when she says that one of the things that drew her to Honeymoon, the creepy romantic thriller that debuts on March 7 at SXSW, was the North Carolina weather. “I was very happy that I was allowed to wear t-shirts and shorts… and no more fur,” she says. “I was very happy that I wasn’t freezing.”
Honeymoon stars Leslie and Cockneys vs Zombies’ Harry Treadaway as Bea and Paul, two newlyweds who are spending their first few blissful days as a married couple at a rustic retreat in the sticks. But something goes horribly wrong when Bea goes missing and Paul finds her naked in the woods, completely disoriented with no memory of what happened. “Something terrible and awful happens to Bea, and you see the deep gloominess that happens within her,” Leslie says. “She makes a decision, rightly or wrongly, she does it for love and she does it for what she feels is the best course of action for Paul. It’s ultimately absolutely tormenting.”
Might supernatural forces be at work? (After all, it is playing the Midnighters section of SXSW.) Perhaps. But what attracted Leslie to the project, which is directed by first-time filmmaker Leigh Janiak, was the film’s raw, intimate realism of a relationship. “It’s a very stripped down portrayal, a very honest approach of something that is very shocking and sad,” says Leslie. “The feelings that it evoked when I first read the script was how it explores such an intimate relationship, and one of my favorite movies of all time is Blue Valentine. I love how candidly frank the camera was on that particular film, and just how you were so engrossed with this couple. And loving that film, I kind of wanted to explore the aspects of being in an intimate two-hander feature such as this. It’s a transformation tale and it is that transformation and the love story and the emotional endurance that the characters go through that definitely drew me to it.”
Click below for an exclusive first-look at Honeymoon, which has its world premiere on Friday, March 7, at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin. It will also play this April at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Leslie, unfortunately, won’t be able to attend the premiere in Austin. She’s currently in London filming the ITV miniseries, The Great Fire, which tells the story of the 1666 London fire that torched nearly the entire city.
Game of Thrones looms, with season 4 back on April 6, but Downton Abbey fans will always remember Leslie as Gwen, the season 1 housemaid who aspired for something better and left the estate to become a secretary. In season 4, a letter informed the staff that Gwen had married. Any chance Gwen pops up again on the show? “I was very happy to hear that [Gwen] got married,” says Leslie. “A little triumph and punch of the air: ‘Yeah, go Gwen!’ But no, I think we’ve seen the last of her.”
Let’s hope Gwen’s honeymoon was better than Bea’s.