The people and community at the heart of Trespass Against Us are unique: they ostracized in real life, rarely depicted in fiction on screen, and are at once captivating and unnerving when first encountered in Adam Smith’s new film.
The film’s star, Michael Fassbender, plays Chad, a conflicted father, husband, and son in a traveling community. He is protective of his way of life, but also wants a better future for his son. This community after all doesn’t necessarily seek a coherent education, and are often engaged in illegal activity. In taking the role, Fassbender was not unfamiliar with such groups.
“I grew up in Ireland, and we had a traveling community there,” said Fassbender while promoting the film at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. The counterpart to traveling communities would be so-called settled ones: those of us who rent or buy houses and apartments, and more or less stay where we are. “It’s always interesting to see the differences in the communities, the conflicts between them.”
That conflict forms the heart of Trespass, a tense, funny, wildly chaotic film that starts with a car ride across a vast field of hills and involves various other romps, from the police and each other. In taking the role and being a part of this film from a first time director, Fassbender hoped to shed some light on this way of living.
“There is a reaction from settler community. It’s quite a bit of animosity towards the traveling communities,” he said, explaining that there are derogatory comments printed about such people in newspapers; it’s acceptable when it comes to travelers, but not to any other groups.
“I wanted to be a part of this sort of viewpoint, of the travelers and their world to try to coexist and make efforts to try to integrate,” he continued. “Coming from the settled community and middle class background, I was excited by the traveling prospect. It’s very liberated. The way we live sometimes is sterilized by health and safety and PC; here there is an element of delight and mischief.”
Tasked with telling the story was first-time director Adam Smith who received great reviews from his cast.
“He was brilliant with the kids, really patient, meticulous in his planning, very driven and very detailed and careful with everybody,” said Lyndsey Marshal, who portrays Chad’s wife. Playing against Fassbender too has its own special effects. “Working with Michael, it was nerve-wracking and exciting and overwhelming and makes you raise your game.”
“From the first meeting through shooting, he was very passionate about this story, he was overworking in terms of his preparation and time and energy,” explained Fassbender.
There was perhaps, one point of contention between the director and actor. That is, a particular scene involving a cow that Fassbender developed some nerves about, as he had to huddle underneath a random bovine in a pen to avoid detection from a police helicopter.
“There was nothing for [Smith] to be nervous about,” said Fassbender, laughing. “That was the last scene we shot, so ‘he either he gets shit on or stepped on.’ That was actually somebody’s cow, and there was a cow handler present. That’s a true story,” he added. “So simple and effective.”