Last year, we wrote about the pleasure of finally seeing character actor Dale Dickey - so memorable in roles in films including Hell And High Water and Winter’s Bone - finally get her teeth into a lead character, with Max Walker-Silverman’s gentle drama A Love Song. Now she’s back in a very different role, in Karl R Hearne’s The G, as foul-mouthed, no-nonsense gran Ann, who has vengeance on her mind after a corrupt legal guardian (Bruce Ramsay) steals her property and targets her loved ones. Spirited away to a care home, she begins to take matters into her own hands as her granddaughter Emma (Romaine Denis) also sets about trying to liberate her gran - who she calls “The G” - leading to a taut and enjoyably complex thriller.
Catching up with the star after the film premiered at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, she notes: “You don't find those kind of roles for women my age, that are strong and forceful. It is a very interesting script. I've always liked psychological thrillers. And I was immediately drawn to it.”
She adds: “I’ve played a lot of these badass characters in and out of TV shows and in small roles in films, but to carry it through an entire film was a big challenge. And Karl is a terrific director, he really guided me very specifically and stylistically, when I watched the film, he helped mold me into where I needed to be for The G.”
One of things that the film highlights is the way in which older people can become sidlelined by medics. In the case of The G, this leads to a loss of Ann’s liberty. Dickey says that this scrutiny of the marginalisation of older folk is one of the reasons she was drawn to the part.
She explains: “Right off the bat, when I read a script, and there's anything including guns or violence, it makes me a little hesitant, because I’ve been bit parts in horror films when it’s just slasher stuff, and this was not that. The violence here was very deliberate at certain times, and it was a side point that happens quickly. On the serious point of the film, my parents divorced when I was little, but I've helped take care of both of them, and particularly my mom. And I remember when she was getting Alzheimer's, and she would go to the doctor, and he wouldn't talk to her, he would talk to whoever was with her. And my mom did not suffer fools. It pissed her off, she had a little bit of The G. And it was the same thing with my father and the doctors - there’s no bedside manner, they don’t listen to you and they just dismiss you if you’re old and it’s a real shame. So it does hit a certain part of my soul and my heart. Because, you know, I’m headed there myself and I’m at the doctors, and I'm like, “Wiait a minute!” you know. Most of us will be elderly. This is off the subject, but I’ve always had a huge respect for the way the indigenous native Americans treat their elders, and we don't.”
Dickey is full of praise for Hearne and cinematographer Vlad Horodinca, who she describes as “constant workhorses”.
She adds: “We were on a tight schedule, and no money, but everything was they knew the setups and the shots to find that thriller feeling.”
The film develops twists as it goes, with The G enlisting some dangerous help from an unexpected quarter, while Emma also begins to try to turn the screw on her gran’s guardian. Dickey says that working with such a strong ensemble cast “made me work harder”. She adds: “Romane is so young and so brilliant and smart. And I never sensed any nervousness from her at all about working with me. It was me more. I had a little nervousness about working with her. But we symbiotically got along so well.”
Dale Dickey: 'With The G, they mess with the wrong woman. And she's got the background and the courage and the strength to stand up to it'
She also talks about how great it was to work with Roc Lafortune, who plays a fellow carehome resident Joseph, who ends up having a romantic liaison with The G. I note that it’s funny given that in her previous film, Dickey told us about how it was to have her first on-screen kiss and now she’s moved on to bedroom encounters.
“That was one thing I talked to Karl about before I went ahead - ‘The little sex scene? How are we going to do that?’” she says. “But I knew it would be handled carefully. And he was willing to work with me on what I'm comfortable with.”
As for the general kick-ass nature of the G, Dickey notes: “We all a well of anger, I think, somewhere, I know I have as I've gotten older, although I'm not good at expressing it normally. But when it comes to protecting your family… I don't have children, but there's still a maternal thing that I still have a brother and my family have taken care of with us. You don't want to fuck with me. I mean, and that's what it is with The G, they mess with the wrong woman. And she's got the background and the courage and the strength to stand up to it.”
Aside from the film, we also touch on the recent resolution to the actors’ strike. She says she’s glad everyone is back at work but isn’t certain whether all the projects she was working on when it started will be coming back or not. She is adamant about how important the negotiations were, especially for those people who take the sort of smaller roles she used to.
“I've been in business for so long. You work away up to co-star, and then maybe you get a guest star. And then it's a recurring role. And I always heard, ‘Oh, well your agents can bump up your salaries, but that just sort of stopped when I was coming up. It was like, ‘No, top of the show. This is only what we're offering’. And I feel very lucky and grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work as much as I have. But it did take a very long time. And financially, people will be like, ‘Why don’t you have a house?’ and I'm like, ‘Well, I've never really made that kind of money’. And that doesn't matter. But I certainly have done well and I have savings now. But somebody asked me, ‘Why are you striking?’ And I said, ‘Bcause there's 160,000 of us. If I never worked again, I could die happy. But look at all the young actors and people in this industry coming up and you want them to have a viable career, to be able to live their dreams and to tell their stories’. Artistry has just got stripped away, and it's all about money and product and a lot of it is BS.”
As for what’s coming up, there is an outside chance that The G will get a sequel. Having moved from kissing to a sex scene within two lead roles, I say I’m a bit wary as to what that may bring and Dickey laughs and agrees, adding “You’ve got me worried now.” Hearne has said he was telling Q&A audiences they might call it The G2: Judgement Day but Dickey jokes that given the escalation from kiss to sex scene within two movies maybe it could be “The G Spot - she becomes a madam in a brothel.” Jokes aside, there is a possibility of something involving The G’s backstory, although Dickey adds with a laugh, “If it were a prequel, they’d have to find someone with this chin”.
They’d also need to be on the look out for someone with a hefty amount of acting talent to match up to Dickey’s knock-em-dead delivery.
- Read what director Karl R Hearne told us about The G.