We caught up with the young Irish actor who plays the fiery and troubled Steve Winchell in the fantasy drama, a standout performance which puts him in contention for a Best Lead Actor Nomination in the upcoming IFTA Film & Drama Awards.
Gibson stars alongside Brit Marling (The Keeping Room), Emory Cohen (Detour), Brandon Perea (Dance Camp), Phylis Smith (Inside Out), Jason Isaacs (A Cure for Wellness) and newcomer Ian Alexander. It was also announced by Netflix earlier this month that ‘The OA’ has been renewed for a second season.
Gibson talks us through his first steps into the character of Steve Winchell, his research and preparation, experience on the shoot and other upcoming projects we can expect the young actor in this year.
IFTN: When did you first hear of ‘The OA’ and what drove you to audition for the part?
“I heard about it way back in July 2015. My agent Claire Comiskey called me up one morning, incredibly excited about this particular part. She has an amazing instinct and can sense when something will fit right with me. As soon as I read the scenes for the audition I knew it was something different. There was such a subtle life to Steve even from the few pages; it's hard to say why or for me to analyse it but instinctively he felt like a living, breathing person. I put the audition on tape and sent it off the same day.”
IFTN: Brit Marling has described the research you did for the role of Steve Winchell as what you would expect from someone who had already gotten the part. Can you talk our readers through how you prepared and what your typical process is?
“Honestly, I'm not sure what my process is. I feel like it's different for every part in some way. I find myself floundering in the darkness until something starts to come out, and then chasing that.
“I made a diary for the character because there was such a gap between my first and final auditions and only a couple of scenes to work off. I didn't want to overdo the scenes and have them become stale so it was my way of staying with the character and allowing it to grow and develop. I didn't really do it to talk about it or show anyone. I think the diary felt right for Steve because although he has a rich and complicated inner life, he tends to mask it on the outside. The diary helped to cement that inner self he so often masks.”
IFTN: Steve’s character is the perhaps the most conflicted of all in the group, even Prairie. What was the most challenging part of bringing their complex relationship to life?
“I don't think it ever felt like a 'challenge' per say. Brit is one of the most incredible actors I've worked alongside and I felt our relationship developed naturally without having to analyse it too deeply or explore it in an academic way.
“I feel like Steve and Prairie are kindred spirits in many ways. They are both outsiders who above all, crave human interaction in a meaningful way.”
IFTN: Please talk us through the production timeline and any personal highlights for yourself—learning that infamous ‘The OA’ dance perhaps?
“We started shooting in New York this time last year. We used to have movement rehearsals like four times a week. That was where we became really close as a group; I have a lot of happy memories from that time.
“We shot over the course of four and a half months, in a studio in Queens and also a lot upstate New York. I was also doing Parkour training in this time which was so new to me.”
IFTN: Your upcoming roles keep getting more and more impressive. From ‘Property of the State’ last year which has yet to release, to the upcoming ‘Guerilla’ and ‘The White Princess’, what are you most looking forward to in 2017?
“I'm excited to have the chance to hopefully do more work with people I admire. All the other stuff that's been coming along with it lately is cool but I would be completely happy without it, just being able to work with great people and relive the feeling of being in a scene with someone. It's a feeling I have found to be increasingly addictive.”