Actor Rod Glenn on Navigating the Film Industry and Playing the Challenging Role of Richard in Matt Shaw’s ‘Monster’

In May 2018, we reported on Matt Shaw‘s Monster, a Kickstarter-funded British indie horror about a homicidal couple and their terrifying offspring. This year, we caught up with Rod Glenn – the man who brought gore and gravitas to the role of murderous antagonist Richard – for a virtual cup of tea.

Emily: So for those who might not know, how did you come to be on our screens?

Rod: I went to drama school straight out of high school after discovering a love of acting very early on, playing a shepherd in the nativity play in first school (the donkey the following year and then Joseph the year after – heady stardom indeed!). After drama school though, reality set in, and for the next 20 years I worked ‘normal’ jobs and wrote novels in my spare time. In 2010, I read an article that a major Hollywood film was looking for supporting cast for a feature shooting in Glasgow. I applied on a whim really and was cast as a riot cop in World War Z. The second I stepped on set I realised that I had wasted the last 20 years. THIS is what I wanted to do. It was a tiny featured role that largely got cut from the final film that was released two years later, but it cemented what I had previously forgotten. I filmed for around 14 days on WWZ, and the very next day after wrapping I started applying for other castings left, right and centre. I did masses of unpaid work on student and no/low-budget productions to build up my experience and to start building a show reel. As time went on, I started to get other small roles on Vera, Ripper Street, Wolfblood, The Monuments Men, Fury etc., and bigger and better roles in indie productions. With my first agent, I bagged some nice little roles on The Hippopotamus (2017), American Assassin (2017) and The More You Ignore Me (2018), and then the lead role in Matt Shaw‘s first feature, Monster (2018).

Emily: Is there anyone, fictional or other, who you would like to play?

Rod: I’d love to play a Bond villain. That would be bloody great.

Emily: I can totally see white cats on laps in your horizon! You have a lot of experience in the villain department. How did you find playing your character in Monster – what were people’s reactions to your character?

Rod: Richard in Monster is an utterly horrific character, so it was a really challenging role, especially the sexual assault scene. It took several months of preparation to get into his head, and after we wrapped it took me about a week to start feeling normal again. Richard lingered for a while. I actually started to cry in between takes of the sexual assault scene with Laura, it got so intense. Matt helped me get back into it by calling me a cunt!

Emily: Wow, so quite the emotional roller-coaster! Other than Matt’s pep talk, how do you usually get into character?

Rod: Whatever character I’m playing I need to understand the key things that drive that person, and all your decisions and emotions stem from there. At the heart of Richard is anger – at his wife for ‘entrapping’ him and forcing a ‘monster’ child on him, at women, at the world and at himself for knowing deep down that he is a failure. So I had to channel that anger and self-loathing.

Emily: That’s pretty heavy! How do you research for those types of characters? 

Rod: I had done a lot of research on serial killers in the past for my writing, in particular the Sinema trilogy about a film-obsessed serial killer. So I already had a good insight into the minds of many serial killers and that helped a great deal in making Richard as authentic as possible. When I play real people, like explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott in Outside, I read up on them and watch as many documentaries etc. as possible. I take in as much information as possible in the run up to filming and then put it all out of my head to deliver a fresh performance with all that research helping subtly and subliminally. For the isolated insanity scenes in Next Door, I re-watched 28 Days Later, I Am Legend and The Last Man on Earth . They really helped me get into the mindset of someone going insane with isolation and the constant threat of death.

Emily: How poetic given the current climate! So who inspires you either in front or behind the camera? Is there a specific director you’d like to work with?

Rod: DiCaprio, Wheatley, Tarantino, Robert Eggers, Daniel Mays, Stephen Graham, Olivia Coleman, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Michael Caine – just to name a few off the top of my head. It’s an extremely tough industry, so anyone that can make a living and a career out of it is inspiring.

I’d love to work with Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, The ABCs of Death). He’s an absolute visionary. But as a jobbing actor I just want to be working all the time, so I’m not shy.

Emily: Oh, I love Sightseers. What sort of horror, or even true crime, do you draw from? Or, you know, just relax to?

Rod: I love all horror and true crime, but also many other genres as well. Some that I love to revisit are Halloween, The Thing (almost all John Carpenter films actually), Jaws, Alien, most zombie films, Demons, early Rob Zombie films, Breaking Bad, To Catch a Killer, Silence of the Lambs… I could go on and on!

Emily: What sort of audience do you think would enjoy your films?

Rod: Ha, that depends on the film! Monster is a ‘love it or hate it’ film – it is pretty damn disturbing, so people have to really love psychological horror to get it. But I’ve been in quirky comedies like The More You Ignore Me and The Hippopotamus, a Bollywood comedy, Guest in London, various action films and dramas, so just depends on the film. I don’t like to stick to just one genre. I’m an actor – I’m not fussy!

Emily: Out of everyone you’ve played, who’s a favourite?

Rod: Richard from Monster has to be right up there – it’s great fun playing bad guys, and Richard is basically the baddest of them all! But also, it was a privilege to play explorer Captain Scott, and filming in Hardangervidda, Norway was absolutely stunning. It was where they filmed the Hoth scenes from Empire Strikes Back. I also loved playing the special forces instructor in American Assassin – mainly because I got to work with Michael Keaton, who was a humble and quiet gentleman.

Emily: Are there any roles that have haunted you?

Rod: I mentioned earlier that it took a while to get Richard out of my head. He’s really been the only one. I’m sure there’ll be others in the future!

Emily: Have you experienced any funny incidents on set or had any bloopers?

Rod: While filming the infamous chewing scene in Monster, several of the crew were almost sick. Cameraman David Dearlove actually started retching. Also on Monster, we set up Tracy Shaw (Coronation Street) during a bedroom scene. She snuck into the bedroom while Richard was sleeping to hold a knife to his neck, but at the crucial moment, a huge bulge (it was actually a torch, I think) sprung up from my crotch, much to the hilarity of the crew. I think Tracy threatened to stab me for real! There’s been so many others on so many different productions, too.

Emily: Are you attending any functions/conventions, should it be possible?

Rod: I’m attending Matt Shaw’s ‘home’ convention, which should be great fun.

Emily: So what’s next in the world of Rod Glenn?

Rod: I’ve got a couple of cool short films coming out soon – Bellevue News (a comedy crime caper) and I Am Norwell Roberts (a true story based on the real-life first black police officer in the Met). I’ve also been cast in three feature films, which are due to start shooting later this year (COVID-dependant), but I can’t give any details on those yet unfortunately.

Emily: In the meantime, where can people see your work?

Rod: Some of my short films are available to watch on YouTube (search for Rod Glenn and you can find my channel with links to them all) and Vimeo, and Matt Shaw’s films are available to watch on Amazon.

We’d like to thank Rod Glenn for chatting with us and we look forward to catching up with him again in the future!


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