The Inverse Interview

Finn Jones loves the sick, twisted ending of his new horror movie

The Iron Fist alum talks the dark twists of The Visitor, the nature of destiny, and having fun at Mardi Gras.

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Finn Jones did not keep the paintings.

In director Justin P. Lange’s new horror movie, The Visitor, Iron Fist alum Finn Jones plays a British immigrant, Robert, who moves in with his American wife (Jessica McNamee) at her deep south childhood home. There he’s struck by images of himself. Everywhere.

Scattered throughout their home — and small town — are images of Robert on the wrong side of history. In two prominent paintings, Jones’ character wears the gray uniform of a Confederate soldier, where he’s identified as “The Visitor.” The paintings become an obsession for Robert as he discovers a dark truth about his identity.

Jones tells Inverse he would be flattered by the artwork commissioned for the movie if it wasn’t so illustrative of evil. As it stands, he’s not keeping the paintings.

“That would be so intense,” Jones says after a laugh. “I’m not that much of a narcissist to want to have a painting of myself.”

“If you’re destined to be the devil, there’s not much you can do.”

Jones has had his feet in a few different universes. In Game of Thrones he was Loras Tyrell, a princely knight who died a fiery death. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was (and to Jones, hopefully still is) Danny Rand, a kung fu master in two seasons of Netflix’s Iron Fist series.

Now in The Visitor, available on demand October 7 and via EPIX in December, Jones is an ordinary man who unearths a terrible secret about his lineage. Jones tells Inverse the paintings and photographs of his character side-by-side with heinous figures like Hitler and Saddam Hussein are emblematic of a “call of the devil” that reveals to Robert who he’s meant to be.

In The Visitor, Finn Jones plays Robert, who stumbles upon strange pictures of himself everywhere in his wife’s hometown.

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“It was interesting to see someone create art that had a likeness to me,” Jones says. “I was blown away by the artistic merit. But definitely weird to see myself in a Confederate soldier’s outfit. That’s just not cool.”

In an interview with Inverse, Jones muses on director Justin Lange’s themes of destiny and control, filming in New Orleans as a cultural outsider, and the striking similarities between his new character and his Marvel superhero.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Inverse: Director Justin P. Lange says The Visitor is about the scary realization we may not be in control of who we become. What’s your take on that? What agency do we actually have?

Finn Jones: Personally, I think one has a lot of agency over their life. My upbringing wasn’t anything special. I grew up adopted. I came from the working class. I didn’t have a lot of opportunities. So if we were to say we’re born into the life that we have, I don’t agree.

I think, if you work hard and set your intentions, and you seek the best out of yourself, you can achieve things that aren’t prescribed to you. But with this movie, we’re talking about supernatural forces. If you’re destined to be the devil, there’s not much you can do because you have that energy running through you. With Robert, there have been forces in his life that tried to break the cycle. But he’s dragged back into it, and I think it reignites that element in him. He’s constantly struggling between being Robert and being the legacy of evil.

While Jones found the artistry of the paintings in The Visitor admirable, he admits it was uncomfortable seeing himself as evil.

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Why do you think Robert is obsessed with the paintings? Most people would just brush off seeing a lookalike, I think.

I think, deep down, he can feel that call from the devil. He sees that in himself, as the Confederate soldier, hanging out with people throughout history that have done atrocious things. I think there’s a part of him that recognizes that that is him. He’s trying to pretend that isn’t him, but it is. He is in that long lineage of people that just keep creating disharmony and evil in the world. I think that’s what really scares him. He knows.

“This is twisted and dark, and not in your face. The audience has to piece the puzzle together themselves.”

No spoilers here, but the ending of the movie reveals a gross, Game of Thrones-like twist. What was your reaction when you read the final pages?

I remember after I read the script, once I found out, I was like, “Shit, I’ve got to read this movie all over again now.” That was what really drew me to the movie.

My concern was: Could we pull it off? Could we take the audience on a journey where, when that moment happens, everyone is like, “That’s cool!” rather than, “I don’t believe that”? Between me, Jess, and Justin, we were attentive to making sure every moment that leads up to that moment was fully fleshed out and carried a sense of authenticity. I think it works. This is twisted and dark, and not in your face. The audience has to piece the puzzle together themselves, and I think that really helps make that twist work.

For Mardi Gras 2022, Finn Jones joined the Krewe of Orpheus parade in New Orleans after filming The Visitor.

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The Visitor is in the tradition of southern gothic horror. What was it like for you, as a British man, to explore this extremely specific genre and region of the United States?

I loved it. I love New Orleans. It really feels like a little piece of Europe. There’s very few places in the States you can go to feel a rich sense of cultural belonging and identity. It comes from a lot of the music, to be honest. I ended up staying there after I filmed, I attended Mardi Gras, where I was the Monarch of the Orpheus Parade.

“After I read the script, I was like, ‘Shit, I’ve got to read this movie all over again now.’”

Have you thought about the similarities between Robert and Danny Rand? They’re both men raised outside their homes, only to return fundamentally changed. Where do the similarities begin and end with the two characters?

They’re both outsiders, right? Danny was someone who didn’t have purpose and struggled to find adulthood. Robert is similar. He’s someone that, at the beginning of the movie, is a young man that isn’t a father yet, isn’t fully a husband, yet over the course of the movie, he becomes a more mature version of himself. But that maturity leads to being the spawn of Satan. It’s not a positive direction of maturity. But that is the trajectory. And I guess that is similar to what Danny was going through in the Netflix Marvel shows.

The Visitor will be available on VOD on October 7.

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