The veteran actor plays multiple roles in Alex Garland's new horror film. Here, he tells EW how he made each of them unique.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Men.

Director Alex Garland's latest film has a short title. But despite the wide spectrum of humanity contained in that one word, almost all of the male characters in Men (with a single exception) are played by the same actor, Rory Kinnear.

Flashbacks give viewers glimpses of the troubled relationship between protagonist Harper (Jessie Buckley) and her husband (Paapa Essiedu). The end of that marriage has driven Harper to seek some desperately-needed peace of mind in the English countryside. She rents a manor home overseen by local man Geoffrey (Kinnear), and as she slowly starts to interact with more townsfolk in the vicinity — a policeman, a vicar, a young boy, a naked homeless person — it's hard not to notice that they all share the same face. What's that about?

"I was really clear when I first met Alex that I didn't want people leaving the film just talking about the fact that one actor played all these parts," Kinnear tells EW. "It had to mean something. I had to make sure that each one was as credible and fully-rounded as the other."

To that point, while each of Kinnear's characters represents an element of patriarchy, they also have their own personality tics and visual signatures. Ahead of the A24 film's theatrical release, EW caught up with Kinnear to discuss the men of Men.

Rory Kinnear as Geoffrey in 'Men.'
| Credit: Kevin Baker/A24


The first Kinnear to appear onscreen in Men is also the most charming. As the overseer of the rural manor Harper is renting, Geoffrey represents the landed aristocracy and "the inherited way of doing things," per Kinnear. But since he's also constantly smiling and trying to make small talk, Geoffrey comes off as somewhat endearing.

"He's genuinely quite an eccentric man," Kinnear says of Geoffrey. "Certainly I saw him as fundamentally harmless, compared to the other characters that I played."

Interestingly, Geoffrey had a calming effect not just on Harper, but on the cast and crew of Men behind the scenes as well.

"When I came on set, people did react completely differently and treated me differently depending on who I was dressed as," Kinnear says. "It wasn't that I was staying in character between takes, I was still Rory. But whenever Geoffrey was on set, everyone seemed in a much better mood."    

By contrast…

Rory Kinnear as the vicar in 'Men.'
| Credit: A24

The vicar

"Whenever I came on set as the vicar or the policeman, people began to sort of back away from me," Kinnear says. "I had to remind them I was still me."

We first meet the vicar when Harper's wanderings bring her to a seemingly empty church. Sitting down in a pew, she is suddenly struck by memories of her husband and starts weeping. As she cries in the foreground, Kinnear's vicar suddenly emerges from the shafts of light behind her.

"Alex was on the same page as I was in terms of making sure that these characters seeped out of the background of the countryside, just as much as the deer or the grass or the trees did," the actor adds.

The vicar is visually distinct from the other Kinnear incarnations, which adds to his disquieting presence — both behind the screen and in front of it.

"It's the only character where I'm wearing contact lenses," Kinnear says. "They sort of occluded my eyes, so I think people backed away from that."

Kinnear continues, "I was reasonably given a green light to collaborate with hair and makeup and the costume designer to create most of the characters, but Alex did have a specific idea about that gray wig."  

Rory Kinnear as the police officer in 'Men.'
| Credit: A24

The cop

One memorable scene in Men finds at least three different Kinnear creations (Geoffrey, a police officer, and a barman) in the same room at the same time. The actor put in work before filming to make sure they were all distinct.

"The most creative bit of it was, before we even got to rehearsals, I sat down and wrote all these various biographies for all the characters so that I knew each one just as well as each other," Kinnear says. "That way I wouldn't lead myself to having a favorite."

It also helped him in a practical sense: "On the day I was playing three different parts, I had to make sure I could slip into them instantly rather than finding my way on camera through various takes," Kinnear says. "So as soon as I got one costume off and another one came on, I could snap straight into it."

Rory Kinnear as the boy in 'Men.'
| Credit: Kevin Baker/A24

The boy

Stand-ins were helpful to Kinnear in inhabiting so many different characters — never more so than in the case of the creepy young boy who hangs around the church and has a strange attachment to a Marilyn Monroe mask.

"With the boy who played the boy, I would rehearse with Jessie, and then he would sort of mimic what I was physically doing in the scene, and then I would mimic what he was doing," Kinnear explains. "There were levels of refraction as it went on. That was all fun stuff to make sure you had your wits about you."

Men Rory Kinnear
Rory Kinnear as the green man in 'Men.'
| Credit: Kevin Baker/A24

The Green Man

Other than Kinnear's face, the major image that recurs throughout Men is that of the Green Man — an ancient pagan symbol of nature and rebirth. When EW spoke with Garland last month, he told us a little about why it fascinates him.

"They're found all over Europe, and even in the Middle East. It's a weirdly common bit of pagan, pre-Christian imagery," Garland says. "I've been hoping some people might go on a deep dive with that stuff. It is fascinating the way it appears in churches — these medieval churches might be a thousand years old, but you find them tucked up in the corners."

Kinnear himself evokes the Green Man in his most fearsome incarnation: a naked man, covered in dirt and leaves, whom Harper first encounters in the woods. To her chagrin, she finds it hard to shake him. Kinnear attests that Garland took a particular interest in this character.

"The look of the Green Man was obviously something that meant a great deal to him," the actor tells us. "For years he's been trying to find a way to include it in his work, and this is the one [film] that it has finally managed to seep into."

Garland even found a way to be extra hands-on: "It was a seven-hour makeup process to get that final look of the Green Man," Kinnear says, "but no matter what stage of it I was in, he would insist on doing the last 20 minutes of my makeup himself."

In other words, Kinnear wasn't the only member of the Men crew wearing multiple hats.

"It was unusual to have not only your director and writer, but also your co-makeup person, all in one person," Kinnear says. "It was just one of those things where he knew exactly what he wanted it to look like, and rather than having to pass it through various levels of communication, he just said, 'Give me the bottle, I'll do it.'"  

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