|Kevin Howarth as Victor|
As The Seasoning House movie is released onto DVD/BluRay and download, I caught up with the movie’s star Kevin Howarth for a brief chat about his career and what drew him to Paul Hyett’s troubling story of violent exploitation in the Balkans.
The movie, reviewed here, stems from the true and tragic philosophy, as old as time, that in a lawless world of conflict, invading armies rape the women that they have conquered. History tells that in civil wars, the brutality tends to be even worse. Thus in an unnamed Balkan state, Howarth plays Victor, a callous pimp who places no worth on humanity other than hard cash.
Howarth started out in acting the right way. Trained at Webber Douglas, he places importance upon understanding the man he is portraying. In researching for Victor, he read up on the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, gaining an appreciation of how and why so many nations could hate each other and studying war criminals such as the Serbian Arkan, perpetrator of countless modern-day atrocities. To call Howarth's character atrocious though sounds frightfully British. Rather, Victor is a man who negotiates hard and only on his terms and who has little time for shame or remorse.
When Howarth talks of wanting to explore the human compassionate side of Victor, of understanding the monster’s back-story, I suggest that Victor's actions in the story suggest he lacks a compassionate side and that Hyett has created the pimp as a representation of detached evil. Whilst Howarth concurs that that is indeed the Victor as presented on screen, his purpose had always been to understand what had driven Victor to be so cold and dispassionate. Howarth speculates as to the damaged childhood that Victor would have experienced that would have so detached him from base feelings of humanity.
Howarth's hard work has paid off with a character that is far removed from a 2 dimensional baddie. Victor is an understated menacing gangster, always under control even when angered. When early on in the movie he brutally cuts a girls throat to terrorise the newly arrived girls trafficked to work at his brothel, the slaughter is all the more chilling for being so unexpected and so calmly executed and calculated. Howarth is rightly proud of his work.
Above all, Howarth is nothing less than a consummate professional, who seeks to gain as thorough an understanding of his character's back story as is possible. The Seasoning House, by the very nature of its storyline demanded several young actresses, some fresh out of training, to take the roles of Victor’s prostitutes. If there was a consistent theme that emerged from the modest research into this article, it is that all the young actors on set, many of them new to the demands and discipline of shooting a movie, found Kevin to be a supportive, helpful and at times inspirational role model.
The Seasoning House tells of a human evil that is as old as time and of which the pimp is the (in)human face. Whilst Howarth's Victor is simply the 21st century portrayal of this infamous predatory amorality, sadly, away from the glitter of the movie screen, such criminals thrive today. That Howarth's performance is so strong only serves to tragically teach us of the evil that men are capable of.
The Seasoning House is widely available on DVD, BluRay and via download.
To read a review of The Seasoning House, click here
To read an interview with Paul Hyett click here