While alien invasion action horror movie fans are being scared to pieces by his “The Darkest Hour” 3-D thriller that opens on Christmas Day, Max Minghella will be enjoying a quiet Christmas in New York with his girlfriend, Kate Mara. Then the dazzling young couple of stars on the rise will head to Capri for New Year’s, “a fun little get-away to look forward to,” as Minghella puts it.
That’s especially after the toil of getting “The Darkest Hour” made and launched. The 26-year-old English actor of “The Social Network” and “The Ides of March” spent nearly five months on Moscow location for the “Darkest Hour” movie about an unseen alien force that takes over earth via our electrical systems and feeds on energy. He stars along with Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman as vacationers who meet in a Moscow nightclub — then suddenly find themselves in the midst of an apocalyptic nightmare.
“It wasn’t the easiest shoot, but we’re lucky to have the jobs we have and I got to work with a lot of people I really admire,” he says. Part of his and Emile’s preparation: “We both hired trainers for this, something I in particular needed to do. I’ve stayed in shape since we finished filming, so that’s another positive thing I’ve taken with me.”
Minghella had never been to Russia before, but “I certainly got a good dose of it on this. It was an amazing place to be. Moscow doesn’t look like anywhere else, and it gave the film more character. This idea of wanting to get home to die becomes a theme of the whole film.” As far as the language barrier, he admits, “Emile got a Rosetta Stone language guide for Russian that he’d play in his trailer. I didn’t learn any more than a few basic things.”
Minghella grew up visiting the film sets of his father, the late, Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”), but he says the experience didn’t show him what to expect in his own career. “I wish it did. His point of view as a director, and mine as an actor, would be very different — your daily schedule, your work lifestyle, the way you relate to the studio structure. But I certainly loved the culture of it. That’s probably ingrained in my permanent memory.”
As for memories of what his famous father looked for in his actors, and whether he’s adopted those characteristics? “I think all directors love actors who are professional and well-behaved,” Minghella says. “And he placed a lot of emphasis on kindness. I remember his working with actors who were very kind. He tended to employ very nice people. Everyone in general behaved themselves very well, and especially the lead actors, who set a standard. It’s an example I try to remember.”
Minghella says he isn’t sure what work will be next for him, but genre isn’t an issue. “I always just want to work with people whose work I like, I think that’s sort of the safest bet. That always comes first for me: who is making it, and then if I respond to the script and think I can be useful.”