I Came By director Babak Anvari on creating a monster with Hugh Bonneville - SciFiNow

I Came By director Babak Anvari on creating a monster with Hugh Bonneville

Back in 2016, we asked if Babak Anvari’s Under The Shadow was ‘one of the scariest films’ of the year. Though his latest project, I Came By, is a thriller, that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. We spoke to Anvari about creating a monster with Hugh Bonneville…

A rebellious young graffiti writer (George MacKay) is targetting the homes of the wealthy elite in the new Netflix thriller I Came By. However, he discovers a shocking secret when he targets a local highly-praised judge (Hugh Bonneville) that leads him on a journey endangering himself and those closest to him.

We spoke to the movie’s writer and director Babak Anvari (who also wrote and directed 2016’s breakout hit Under The Shadow) about why the movie is a ‘Hitchcockian neo-noir’ and working with Hugh Bonneville to create a monster…

So, you’ve said that you first thought of this film 20 years ago. How different is this movie to that initial idea?

The core of it is exactly the same. I came up with it in my early twenties, when I was at film school. It was much simpler, though. I thought that it would be my first film, then obviously that ended up being Under The Shadow. After that came out I went to my notebook of ideas and came across this, and I was like, ‘oh, this is really still relevant and timely’.

You’ve described I Came By as a neo-noir. But this story could have easily leaned more into horror. Was there ever a script that was more of a straight-ahead horror film?

From the moment I set out to make it I pitched it as a Hitchcockian neo-noir. I really wanted to bring the Hitchcock sensibilities back to Britain as London is a great setting for neo-noir. Although some friends who are hardcore horror types have said ‘oh, this is still borderline horror’, because it has some terrifying moments and some jump moments. But overall, I would say it’s more on the thriller side.

Anvari pitched I Came By as a ‘Hitchcockian neo-noir’.

The character of Hector, played by Hugh Bonneville, is a really memorable villain, a killer who masks his sins by presenting himself as a progressive, liberal lawyer. Apart from one scene, he doesn’t reveal much about himself. Did you work out a full backstory for him?

I did. From the get-go, Hugh, who’s such a meticulous actor, was asking me a lot of questions about who Hector is, what’s his childhood, really wanting to understand what I had in mind. He also helped me develop his backstory a bit more. When Hugh came on board, he sent me this lovely message, saying: ‘I’m so excited, I’m looking forward to creating this monster with you’.

Obviously it’s very against type for Hugh Bonneville. Was that part of the appeal in casting him that you were subverting the audience’s expectations?

1,000%. I really wanted to, on many levels, do the unexpected with this film. And casting was one of them. For the role of Hector, I really didn’t want to go to an actor who we’ve seen doing this type of role before. Hugh was my top choice, because he’s mostly known for his family films, so I was really stubborn about that.

Anvari wanted to do the unexpected – including casting Hugh Bonneville as the movie’s villain.

You mentioned Hitchcock, but what other movies fed into I Came By?

Well, for Hitchcock it was Rear Window and Psycho, but I was really inspired by a lot of South Korean films like Bong Joon-ho’s Mother as well as Oldboy and The Chaser. I liked the way they think out of the box. Also some Hollywood films like Prisoners and Nightcrawler and those 70s paranoid thrillers like The Conversation.

So, what’s next for you?

I have a few projects in the pipeline. They’re across sci-fi and drama and thriller, and both film and TV because I absolutely love television. So yeah, there are a few things in the pipeline. I’ve just got to see which one is gonna go first…

I Came By will be in select UK cinemas on 19th August and on Netflix from 31st August