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Olly Alexander Talks Funny Bunny and If He'll Ever Direct a Movie Himself

Olly Alexander Talks Funny Bunny and If He'll Ever Direct a Movie Himself

Olly Alexander
Photography by Ryan Pfluger

The actor and musician talks vegetarianism, acting, and tells us that Grimes is his spirit animal.

Olly Alexander, Out100 Breakout of the Year, is more than just a pop star. He was recently featured in Showtime's Penny Dreadful and even had a turn in Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void. Now, audiences can check him out in director Allison Bagnall's Funny Bunny (which opens November 13 in select theaters and on VOD). While this past year, Alexander has been tearing up the charts with songs from Years & Years, in the wings he's had a daring independent film waiting to blow audiences away. "I actually haven't done any acting in three years, we shot the film in 2013, I think," Alexander tells Out. "That was the last film I did, and then the band came along. I knew I wanted to give 100% to the band, so I decided to focus on the music."

Funny Bunny tells the story of Gene (Kentucker Audley), a determined would-be activist who goes door to door in order to educate people about the childhood obesity epidemic. Behind one of the doors he knocks on is Titty (Alexander), a person whose eccentricities disguise his inner damage. When Titty opens up to Gene and reveals his online relationship with Ginger (Joslyn Jensen), Gene convinces Titty to go on a trip to find her, embroiling the three characters in a plot ripe with severely damaged characters and their journeys towards connection, redemption, and, ultimately, healing. We caught up with the young star to find out what attracted him to the unusual role.

Out: What drew you to be a part of Funny Bunny?

Olly Alexander: Six years ago, Allison offered me the part right after seeing my picture online. I really loved the script. I just really wanted to work with her. It actually didn't end up happening at that time--due to other conflicts. But I had such a good time working with her in the past. The group of us making the movie had so much input, which really made it such an experience. The world doesn't get to see stories like this very often, with these sort of damaged characters. It's a very odd, funny, and touching film, and I knew I had to be a part of it.

A lot of the film involves animal rights activists, even bordering on the radical end of the spectrum. Do you yoursellf have any prior history with animal activism?

I've been vegetarian for 12 years, and vegan for intermittent periods. So, apart from not eating them, not too much.

The movie has a unique tone, which must've been incredibly difficult to capture, let alone maintain for the duration of the film, and I think it's executed so well. So, what was it like reading the script for the first time?

I think the script was originally 250 pages. There was so much stuff in it. I mean, I thought it was great and had some really amazing things in it. We always had a plan to work on it when I was in America. We ended up, basically as we were shooting, rewriting a lot of the movie, though. We were changing everything. It was originally way darker and had a suicide in it. Pretty bleak, but as we shot it, it didn't feel right.

You worked with Alison Bagnall back on 2011's The Dish and the Spoon. What was it like working with her again? And how do you feel you've grown as an actor?

I had similar experiences making both movies. When we shot Funny Bunny, I felt a bit more assured of what I thought in terms of character and story. I was kind of a deer in the headlights back when we shot The Dish and the Spoon. I didn't really ever feel like I knew what I was doing. And when you're making a movie where you have to be up front, and it requires a lot of brain and creative skills, because you're making decisions like how to shoot a scene, it can be quite difficult, especially when you don't know what the hell you're doing.

You're credited as a co-writer of Funny Bunny, along with your two co-stars, so what was it like being on that side of production?

It's definitely really hard being a writer, and I had no clue. It gave me insight to putting a story together on screen, like how many scenes we had to shoot at night, and what a community was, and how everything will work when it's edited, like did we we need this or should we put this on. We didn't shoot chronologically, so it was really hard. But I really really really enjoyed the experience. Allison just wants to work and hear your ideas and work with them. It was very rewarding. If I was going to make a movie, I would have a better understanding of how to do it.

Would you ever like to write or direct an entire feature length script on your own?

Never say never, but, to be honest, directing a movie is insane. When you're acting, it's the best part. You sit around and wait a lot, but you get to be creative and in the moment and talk about your feelings, which is great. But directing is so difficult. You have to give an answer to people all the time, which would be crazy and intense and I don't know if I'm ready for that yet.

What are your three favorite films?

My Own Private Idaho, Spirited Away, and Hercules.

One last question: What is your spirit animal?


Check out an exclusive clip of Funny Bunny below:

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