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Angela Dixon talks to Live for Films about Never Let Go


Actress Angela Dixon is set to grab the attention of film fans across the globe as Lisa Brennan, a former FBI agent desperately searching for her abducted daughter, in Howard J. Ford’s action thriller feature filmNever Let Go, which receives its European premiere at Film4 FrightFest 2015.

A single mother desperately searches for her missing child in a beautiful, but unfamiliar land, following an apparent abduction. Trusting no one, and stopping at nothing, she weaves her way through the murky backstreets and barren landscapes, becoming implicated in the murder of a seemingly innocent man. Gradually her connections back in the US begin to reveal that there is much more at stake than first meets the eye…

Ahead of the sold out screening of Never Let Go at FrightFest, I spent a very enjoyable twenty minutes talking to the film’s extremely charming lead actress Angela Dixon. Angela is a tough cookie – practicing her American accent until her jaw locked and doing all of her own stunts – and tells me all about her hardcore training, as well as the Jessica Lange role she’d like to play, and, of course, what movie monster she would like to be killed by.

Hello, is that Alan?


It is indeed. Hi Angela.

How are you?


I’m good, thank you. How are you doing?

Yeah, no, not too bad. Not too bad at all.


Excellent. So, to start, how would you describe Never Let Go, and what was it about the project that made you want to get involved?

I’d describe it as… you know, I find it hard to describe it in terms of genres. It’s a journey of a woman who’s in a very dark psychological place. She is depressed. She’s finding it difficult to connect with her baby, and she goes away to a foreign country in order to connect with the child. While she’s there, the child is abducted and, really, for me, the journey is around not just the abduction and the trying to get her child back, it’s an internal journey that she needs to go through, from this depressed woman with a lot of guilt from her past, to someone who’s actually liberated by the actions she takes in the film. Yeah.


What did you relate to in the part, and, as an actress, what did you channel to help achieve embodying that character?

There were lots of things I related to, really. I mean she is quite an interesting character, and one I think any actress would want to play. There’s a complex web of different conflicting elements really. I was very keen for her to not just be an action woman. On one level, there’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of “chasing”, and it could have been played that way, and for me it was really important to bring out the story that was underneath. So I really had to comb through my own life and find out references that would work for her. I did a lot of work on the script. A lot of work emotionally, mentally, to really discover what was at the core of her so I could bring stuff from my own life to it to make that work.


So adding a psychological layer onto it, to stop it from just being Taken?

Erm, honestly, it was the other way round!

[both laugh]

When I read the script for the first time, it was the emotional journey that I started with. The more I worked at it, and looked at it, it became very, very clear – the psychological and emotional touch points that she was going through. So it was about starting with emotion and psychology, and the action being layered on top. If you see what I mean?


OK, yeah, cool. How did find working with director Howard Ford?

Ah! I loved working with Howard. I absolutely loved working with Howard. He’s the most incredible, phenomenal filmmaker, and this was a low budget film, and he created miracles with what he did.


And how did you get involved?

I heard about the film quite early on. He told me that he was writing this, and that he had me in mind while he was writing this, but there was always an understanding that the likelihood of me playing the role was quite slim because to sell a film it’s an awful lot easier with a name… but I agreed that I would be ready, should he need me to play the part. I kept in very close contact with him, and spoke to him a lot about the character and what have you… The Hollywood name did say, “Yes”… and then they dropped out. And all the time, I was sort of in the background really. In the wings.


Keeping everything crossed.

[laughs] I was keeping everything crossed! But I was always preparing. I was always in contact, and close to the project, even when the likelihood was slim. I wasn’t in role when I started preparing. I made the decision to drop everything and prepare five weeks before the shoot, and I wasn’t cast then.

I split my time up between accent coaching… I found this  incredible American accent coach, Paige Walker, I had Skype lessons with her, and we went through every single line in the script phonetically. Every single syllable was worked on! We had a very American audience at the Cannes film festival and those that knew I was English, couldn’t believe that I had managed to nail it, and those that didn’t know, one girl in fact, came to talk to me afterwards and jumped back when I started speaking! She said, “You’re English!”, and I said, “Yes. Yes I am”, and she said, “That’s just freaked me out because I hate people doing accents, and I thought you were American!” I spent three to five hours a day doing that, and at one point my jaw was locking and I was getting migraines. My mouth was working so hard, and the make up of your face changes because you’re holding it in a different way.

I upped my physical training. I did two to three hours a day: boxing, combat, weights. Then there was the rest of it: script work – psychological and emotional, I was doing seventeen hour days. It was pretty intense. Seven days a week.


That does sound very intense! So, having done all that work on it, what would you say is the key to doing a great American accent?

That’s a really good question. I think what people usually do is they paint with very big brushes, and they don’t fully understand how the sounds are created. I think the key to any accent is really learning how the tongue places – where you place the tongue in the mouth, what you have to do physiologically differently to perform a different sound, and also to really tune your ear.

There were times on set where I would say, “Ooh, I need to do that again because I know that a couple of those sounds weren’t right”. So Paige really helped me develop a really good ear for what was the right sound, and what was the wrong sound.


And on the physical side, how much stunt work did you do, or were you allowed to do?

Oh, I did it all.



Yeah, a big wow. Yeah. In fact, at one point, when some of the other actors came on board, I jumped down onto something and they came up to me and said, “I think you need to be careful there. That could be quite dangerous”. And I thought, “God, if you think THAT’S dangerous!” [laughs]


“You haven’t seen what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks!”

Yeah, you should have been here! [laughs] If there was anything potentially dangerous – Howard did first. So I just did it after him.


Gosh. Well you’re both very brave!

Well, it’s funny really, I’m not that good with heights. I have, in the past, suffered with that paralysis and vertigo… Something interesting happens when you’re in character, because if your character can do it then something that happens in your brain… if you’re really in character when you do it then you can find the resources that your character needs in order to do it. It’s a really odd experience actually. So I actually found my fear – my fight or flight – could be overridden by being in character, and really believing that, “I need to get to my child, and save my life and hers”. I was scared quite a lot actually, but you just have to override it. We didn’t do a lot of risk assessment.


No, it doesn’t sound like it! So the film is premiering at FrightFest in August, are you going to be there?

Yeah, I am. I don’t think I’ll be able to see any of the other films, but I will be there on the 28th. I have been before – I saw Howard’s last film: The Dead 2. It was fantastic. There was an amazing audience, I have to say. What I remember the most about it was that they were extremely excited, and there was a real buzz.


Like you said, it’s a fantastic audience full of lovers of genre films, are you excited to be there and soak up their reaction to Never Let Go?

It’s a funny old thing, isn’t it? There’s always an amount of trepidation – you never know how people are going to react, um… that’s one of the things you have to do as any kind of artist, is put it out there and hope that people get it. So I hope people get it! I hope people enjoy it!


What are you up to next?

There’s a couple of projects. I’m doing something with John Ford at the moment – Howard’s brother – which is amazing. He’s got a project that he’s filming in the next couple of months, and he’s asked me to do that, so that’s really nice.

There’s also another feature called Homeless Ashes with Marc Zammit, and I would be a main supporting lead.


If you could star in the remake of any film, which one would it be and what part would you play?

Oh, good lord! Do you know what? The first thing that’s coming to my mind is “Frances”, with Jessica Lange. It’s Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard. She plays Frances Farmer, who’s a Hollywood starlet that doesn’t want to play the game, and, oh God, it’s pretty dark, but it’s a strong female role.


My last question for you is if you could be killed by any movie monster…



…which one would it be, and what would your last words be?

 Oh my goodness! Oh dear, well… movie monster… OK, so it would be the Alien, and my last words would be… “Say “Hi” to Ripley for me…



 Then “SPLAT!” as Ripley blasts it!


Excellent. Very cool. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today.

 My pleasure. Take care, and thanks ever so much.


You too. Thanks. Bye-bye.



Never Let Go premieres at FrightFest on the 28th of August.


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