People are used to seeing Dominic Monaghan as a member of an ensemble, whether it was his portrayal of Merry in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy or lovable junkie Charlie Pace in Lost. But audiences have rarely seen a Monaghan character take on a leadership role in a group. They will get that in the post-apocolyptic thriller The Day, which screens at the Sarasota Film Festival at 8:30pm on April 20 and April 21. We spoke today with Monaghan about how much this role means to him. “I’m just excited that an audience finally gets to see it,” he said.
“They pitched me the idea saying they have seen me in projects where I play a part of a gang of characters and they wanted to see me as a leader for a change,” Monaghan says.
In the film, his character, Rick, leads a group through the violent remnants of a world as the group scavenges through the ruins of civilization in search of canned food and other survival supplies. Monaghan took the group hierarchy into account even in his own interaction with fellow cast members. While he has often been known as the joker on set, he decided he needed to be a little more removed from colleagues.
“I thought I needed to be a little more distant so I could be able to bark orders at people and be able to be more of a curmudgeon type of leader,” he says.
While Monaghan doesn’t classify The Day as a horror, it certainly has some significant violence and a pretty high body count.
“Violence is a part of life, isn’t it,” Monaghan says. “It may not be a part of our direct life right now, but if human beings are in a scenario where you are expected to stay alive by sacrificing someone else, if it’s between you or me, then it’s going to be me. That is a stance we as human beings tend to take, and I find that very interesting.”
The 35-year-old actor says he wants to see how audiences react to the film. It has already screened at the Toronto Film Festival, where it was acquired by WWE Studios, and Monaghan is eager to see if people respond to it here as well as they did in Canada, where the movie was filmed.
He was hesitant to draw too strong a line between The Day and any of his past work, saying every project is a different animal. “I hope as I come through my career to do a variety of films with micro-budgets or massive budgets. They are all different,” he says. “I tend not to compare one project to another. Then you are not in the right head space. It’s almost like looking in the rearview when you need to be driving forward.”