Tómas Lemarquis opens his front door, smiling broadly. Tanned, wiry, and wearing a bold red sweater, he cuts a striking figure. Standing with his arms crossed, his bright, unblinking eyes are both welcoming and piercing, giving a feeling of entering someone’s home but also, perhaps, their lair.
This compelling presence has made Tómas an in-demand actor in recent years. Since playing the misunderstood titular character of ‘Nói albinói’ in 2003, he has excelled in roles with a surreal element. He made a memorable appearance in ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ also portraying Caliban in the X-Men franchise, and a trolley-pushing hitman in cult sci-fi hit ‘Snowpiercer.’
“I sometimes ask, ‘do you find projects, or do projects find you?’” says Tómas. “As an actor, you often rely on what you’re offered. With this physicality I have, I’m not offered the guy-next-door parts—I get quirky, weird roles that go out of the ordinary.”
Run to the rock
Tómas does admit that he’s turned off by the mundane, and his current project ‘The Rock of Ages’ is characteristically unusual. As well as co-producing this “epic short,” he also plays the part of the Soldier—a masked warrior who wanders through the Icelandic wilderness until he happens upon a talking rock.
“The Soldier is delirious, probably having had a knock on the head,” says Tómas. “He isn’t sure if the rock is real or in his imagination. He has a discussion with the rock. At first, he appears to be an old and wise rock—but he turns out to be quite a trickster.” A mischievous smile creeps over his face. “I can’t say more than that.”
The project—billed as a surreal black comedy that’s “the mutant love child of Jim Henson, Terry Gilliam and Ingmar Bergman”—is a collaboration with Australian writer-director Eron Sheean. The two became fast friends during the filming of ‘Errors of the Human Body,’ a science-fiction thriller that Eron directed. “I think we’re drawn to the passion in each other,” says Tómas. “I like passionate nerds!”
When Eron moved to London, Tómas would stay at his house. “I’ve been studying shamanism, and one night we had a long discussion about it,” he recalls. “Eron had a dream that night about a talking rock, and he very quickly wrote the script. It’s about the subconscious, and digging into Iceland’s folklore traditions. And Eron has a lot of humour, so it always comes with a twist.”
The film is mid-production, and Tómas heaps praise onto the team, from producer Hlín Jóhannesdóttir to the sound crew, cinematographer, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who voices Rock. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to fund the final stage of shooting. “It’s quite ambitious for a short film,” says Tómas. “Now we need to shoot the Rock. The location will be complicated—we might have to use horses to get the gear there.”
The funds raised will be used for food and transport, and those who back the project are promised an intriguing end result. “I’ve found that many films about spirituality are quite high-minded and holy,” finishes Tómas. “But the most powerful shamans I have met are full of humour and don’t take themselves seriously.” A broad smile crosses his face once more. “Humour is a very important part of life.”
Support ‘The Rock Of Ages’ via Indiegogo. Rewards include your name in the credits, invitations to the premiere, a replica of the mask used in the film, and more.
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