Displaced: Game of Thrones actor shines spotlight on homelessness

Displaced director and producer Joe Kidd and Claudia Merlini discuss their new eye-opening film about a homeless man – played by Clive Russell – in his journey to reconnect with his estranged family...

From the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros to the mean streets of London. Scottish actor Clive Russell – best known for his roles  in Ripper Street, Hollyoaks and as Brendan ‘the Blackfish’ Tully in Game of Thrones –  now stars in Displaced, a short film focussing on homelessness.

Russell plays John Young, a man sleeping rough on the streets of the capital who, after suffering a brutal attack one evening, discovers he is on the missing person’s register. The film follows his fraught reunion with his only son Nick (played by Daniel Garcia), who John walked out on when he was 10.

Here, The Big Issue speaks with Joe Kidd and Claudia Merlini, the director and producer behind Displaced.  Kidd and Merlini are entering the film into a number of international festivals, and will release it early next year.

The Big Issue: Introduce us to Displaced…

Kidd: Displaced is a short film about a man living rough in London. He’s a registered missing person and he walked out on his family prior to when the film starts. It’s about him reconnecting with his son, who’s now 30 and who is starting to carve out his own life. It’s about the sins of the father and the two of them realising that they are not too different from one another.

displaced-clive-russell

Why did you choose homelessness as the focus of the film?

Merlini: I think part of the reason we chose this particular story was because it is quite unusual. Many films have much younger protagonists and we wanted to focus on someone a bit older in a different situation. Joe came up with the initial idea after reading a newspaper article about missing people. He started to think about what it would be like to not know you were a missing person and the story began to develop from there. We also wanted to base it around family as that’s really important to the both of us.

"It seems The Blackfish couldn't escape Westeros on the set of Displaced." #WinterIsHere #GOTS7

Posted by Displaced Short Film on Saturday, July 22, 2017

What was the research process like? 

Merlini: We both live in central London so we see homeless people on the streets and know that it’s an important issue. We did a lot of research and one of the most ways was by speaking to a missing person’s organisation, who were really helpful.

Kidd: My aunt works at a homeless shelter in north London and they produce a podcast every week called Shelter from the Storm, which is a dialogue between someone working at the shelter and someone who’s sleeping rough. I took a lot away from that as it’s a really good podcast and gives you a really great insight into what life is like on the streets.

What are the important things you want the audience to take away from the film?

Merlini: The film has a strong message of self-reflection and that’s what we were really trying to get across – the idea that as much as it can be quite easy to put blame on others, we need to look at ourselves and our own choices and how they affect those around us. The other more obvious themes of family and growing old are also really central to the film.

Clive Russell with Joe Kidd and Claudia Merlini

The film stars Game of Thrones actor Clive Russell, how did his involvement come about?

Kidd: I was working on a BBC3 TV series called Uncle last year that Clive was in and one day I just approached him and asked if he would be interested in the idea of this film. I sent him the script and, after some back and forth, he decided to come on board. We feel very lucky to have him and that he liked the story and thought the film would be a good way to bring attention to certain issues. I think he felt like it was a genuine story with genuine heart.

Interview by Sophie Monaghan-Coombs. Displaced is scheduled to be released in 2018