Rebecca Hall stars as Margaret in Resurrection, a woman whose life is upended when a figure from her past reemerges and shakes her to her core. That figure, David, is played by Tim Roth in a menacing role opposite Hall. Playing Margaret with a fierce intensity, Resurrection tracks her as her life with her daughter slowly starts to unravel. Margaret tries to protect her daughter, but as David’s influence over her grows, she slowly begins to lose her grip on everything she worked so hard to build.
Resurrection debuted at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews, with many praising both Hall and Roth for their performances and the film’s gonzo ending.
Screen Rant sat down with Hall to discuss Resurrection, including why Hall likes tackling difficult characters like Margaret, what she thought of that jaw-dropping ending, and why she felt like she had to take this role.
Screen Rant: You’ve got to some dark places with your roles. The Night House, Christine, and some of your other films. What attracts you to a character like Margaret?
Rebecca Hall: I don’t know, there must be something up with me [laughs]. I think I’m attracted to films where the audience is going to have an experience. That doesn’t mean it has to be genre, it really doesn’t. It just so happens that some of the best roles I have seen are in genre. And I would rather play something that is very challenging and complicated and big than do something that’s less that and I’ll be bored.
And, frankly, I’d rather be directing. I don’t know, but it doesn’t have to always be that way. But I think certainly, at this point in my life when this film came along, I had just finished directing. I felt so fulfilled [and] I really felt that it sort of had to be, if I was going to do some acting it felt, in that moment, that it had to be like an Olympic triathlon of acting. It had to be like the full, extreme sports version for me to be satisfied with it.
This really did sort of fit the bill. It was really genuinely very challenging. And I didn’t know whether I could pull it off and that was exciting to me. It doesn’t always have to be that way. Like I don’t want it to always be that way. I’d like to act light and not such a slog. But this is where I was at when this one came along. And I think the rest of them, I’m drawn to because of the fact that they all there’s a sort of commonality within the writing. I like things that are going to challenge an audience and put them through something. And in the case of Resurrection, I like something that feels like it has the opportunity to leave people with the sense of “what the [pause] just happened?”
And some people gonna like it, some people are not going to like it, but no one’s going to forget about it. That’s good.
I won’t be forgetting about it for a long time.
Rebecca Hall: That’s a good thing in my book.
You have such a great scene partner in Tim Roth, and his character David is so menacing. I was getting angry watching him gaslight Margaret. How did you two approach your scenes with each other?
Rebecca Hall: We were actually very friendly. We chatted in between takes about things that had nothing to do with the movie. I’m kind of like that. There’s a sort of tradition amongst British actors of being quite playful on the set.
You don’t have to take it too seriously in order to be serious, but when it is required to be serious, you be serious. And we shared that sensibility, so it was quite supportive, But when I needed to go there, he was like, “Okay, I’m leaving you alone now.” And vice versa. It felt sort of balanced in that way.
I’m sure you need that respite, too because Resurrection just doesn’t let up. It starts at one point and as the layers are peeled back, it just keeps going. It’s relentless. Since you signed on for this so early, and you were a champion of executive producing it, what was your initial reaction when you read that climax in the hotel room and that final scene?
Rebecca Hall: Well, that was the thing that made me want to do it. Honestly, the film doesn’t really exist without that. It felt to me primal and mythical in the sense of Greek mythology. It felt big and I thought that was so interesting to apply that level of storytelling onto a world that otherwise looks very much like the world that we experience now. I think we’re in an unprecedented time of anxiety and panic. There’s real, palpable anxiety around how much control any of us have over the world right now because it’s been offended in various different ways consistently.
I think this gets under your skin. It’s dealing with some very real issues, gaslighting, someone who was in a cult of one, an abusive relationship, but it doesn’t get under people’s skin, because every one of us has been in an abusive relationship, although sadly, I know many people who have. It gets under our skin because of something else, something more primal. I think that it’s kind of the film that sort of holds a level of rage and anxiety that is existentially huge. In a way, you can’t really interrogate that emotional panic unless you take it to the enormous conclusion. It’s not going to be satisfactory.
I think the level of rage and the level of anxiety necessitates a kind of catharsis that is equally large and shocking. And the fact that this film dared to go there, I found absolutely batshit crazy, but also astonishing and brave, and I was like, “Okay, this is mad.” [It could] really be a disaster, like, it might really not work. I did think that. I was like, there’s every chance that this could be a complete, god awful mess. But also, there’s a chance that it could be one of those movies that’s jaw-dropping.
Margaret’s life is in order. She is capable, disciplined, and successful. Soon, her teenage daughter, who Margaret raised by herself, will be going off to a fine university, just as Margaret had intended. Everything is under control. That is, until David returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past.