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Actors Hannah and Emily Dargan discuss The Watched
11 Jun 2024 : Luke Shanahan, Nathan Griffin
Emily and Hannah Dargan
We spoke with Hannah and Emily Dargan about acting in The Watched. The new horror film is currently screening in cinemas in Ireland and worldwide.

The Watched is the feature directorial debut of Ishana Shyamalan, daughter of M. Night Shyamalan. Production began in Galway in summer 2023, and wrapped principal photography in September of that year. Locations used in Galway include Electric nightclub and Griffin's bakery, which was dressed as a pet shop for the film.

The film stars Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) as Mina, a 28-year-old artist, as she gets stranded in a forest in western Ireland. After finding shelter, she becomes trapped alongside three strangers, stalked by mysterious creatures each night. Hannah and Emily Dargan play younger versions of two characters played by Fanning.

The cast also includes Olwen Fouéré (All You Need is Death) and Georgina Campbell (Barbarian).

The Watched is produced by M. Night Shyamalan (Old), Ashwin Rajan (Old) and Nimitt Mankad (Trumbo). The executive producers are Jo Homewood (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Stephen Dembitzer (In the Bedroom).

The film is based on Irish author A.M. Shine’s novel of the same name, which Ishana Shyamalan adapted for the screen. Her previous work includes directing episodes of Apple TV+ series Servant.

We sat down with Emily and Hannah Dargan to discuss attending the world premiere of The Watched in New York, their experiences working on set, and what other projects they have lined up. The Dargan twins were cast by Karen Scully, Louise Kiely casting, and are represented by Isobel Moloney, Take 2 Talent Management.

IFTN: You got to attend the world premiere in New York over the weekend. How did you find the experience?

HANNAH: “It was amazing. Everyone was so nice to us. We were the only kids there and people asked for our autographs and photos with us.”

EMILY: "It was so exciting! I loved it and I hope I can do more."

IFTN: What was it like walking the red carpet at such a big event?

HANNAH: “I absolutely loved getting to walk the carpet. It was black, not red, but meant the same thing. There were lights and TV cameras and interviewers. We were interviewed by Entertainment Tonight, BB Theatre group and another one that I can’t remember. Loads of people were calling out names and we didn’t know where to be looking, but I think we did ok.”

EMILY: “Oh you’d never believe it. When we pulled up and saw all the lights and the cameras and the people, it felt really scary, but someone from Warner Brothers met us and was with us the whole way. She guided us along the carpet.”

“There were people shouting our names and getting us to look at them for photos and there were loads of people on the street who wanted us to take photos with them and sign autographs. It was so exciting.”

IFTN: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience working on the film? 
HANNAH: “We filmed very early on. We did some location and studio filming. We had very early starts some days and others we were working late. The woods were really spooky. Even in daylight.”

EMILY: “We were picked up early most days in a really fancy car, and had a lovely chaperone called Elizabeth. They’d bring us to where we were filming that day and a guy called TJ would meet us and get someone to get us breakfast or lunch before we went to go to hair and makeup. Once we had that done, we’d go back to the trailer, and costumes would have been delivered, so we’d get into them and then wait to be brought to set.”

“Once we got to set, Ishana would talk to us about how we were going to film that day.  We’d do the scenes loads of times from different angles or with slightly different lines or Ishana would get us to do them a different way.”

“Sometimes we were on location and sometimes in a huge stage in Ardmore where the sets were. The sets were so cool. They looked so real. It’s amazing what the crew can make.”

“The crew were so nice. Everyone on set was the best. Every day was different apart from the people we were with. The woods were cold and scary and it was daytime that they made to look like nighttime. Wait until you see it.”

IFTN: How did you find the experience of working with a big crew, compared to working with smaller crews on short films for example?

EMILY: “They’re the same but different. Hannah filmed a short called Come Back earlier this year and I was on set a lot. There’s not as many people or sets, but everyone is doing the same job and working just as hard as they would be on a bigger film.”

HANNAH: “Both were great. We did location filming on both, but The Watched also filmed in Ardmore studios with sets that were built for it, and full hair and makeup trailers.”

“Come Back had a much smaller crew but we still had a lot of fun with them. Dad or Mom brought us to set. There was a lot of fun with the other girls in it, Amy Corbett, Aoileann O’Leary and Emily Walsh. We’re friends in real life now too and speak all the time. We all met in town for lunch recently to catch up. Helen (O’Reilly) is a brilliant director. She knew what she wanted to get, but still worked with us all to have some input on our characters.”

IFTN: You both play younger versions of Dakota Fanning, I believe? What was that like and did you get to work with her and what was that like?

HANNAH: “I play young Mina, and Emily was young Lucy. Dakota plays both characters. I loved playing young Dakota. I always loved her as an actress. We all love the Dr. Seuss books in our family and the first movie I saw her in was The Cat in The Hat. I must have watched that hundreds of times when I was younger. She’s also great in War of the Worlds, with my Mom’s favourite, Tom Cruise.”

“I first met her in the woods. I was watching Emily doing her scene on a monitor and she tapped me on the shoulder to introduce herself and told me her name was Hannah too! (Fanning was born Hannah Dakota Fanning.) She’s so nice, honestly, she is such a nice person and a great actor. Wait until you see her in The Watchers. She’s so good.”

EMILY: “Yes, we do play younger versions of her and it was amazing! She’s one of those iconic child actors, and it was wonderful working with her. Did you know she was in Friends? That’s one of my favourite shows. And she was also in a great movie called Uptown Girls and is the voice of Coraline. I met Neil Gaiman who wrote Coraline at the premiere. He was with Siobhan (Hewlett) who plays Mina and Lucy’s mom.”

“I’m in some scenes with her but Hannah isn’t because she’s playing young her. You’ll have to see it to see why.”

IFTN: You had to go back in to do some ADR after your filming. How different were your scenes that you filmed once those sound effects were added in the edit? 
HANNAH: “It was strange, we were in a soundproof room and couldn’t see anything outside. There were two monitors, the film was on one and Ishy (Ishana) was on the other directing us again. We couldn’t hear anything outside the room unless it came through our headphones. We got to see our scenes for the first time and that was so exciting. We watched them once and then Ishy told us what she wanted us to do so we acted out the lines again, matching our words to the screen. Then they played it back with all the spooky music and effects. It was a little scary because the sound was so clear.”

EMILY: “It’s scarier than you think with a headset on! That was my first time seeing my scenes with all the effects and I had to step back because it gave me a shock!  It’s scary!”

IFTN: Did you get to watch the completed film in New York or was it too scary? 
HANNAH: “Yes, we saw it at the premiere and yes, it’s very scary. It’s different from when we were filming it because all the sound and visual effects have been added.”

EMILY: "It’s probably not as scary for us because we saw how it was made, but other people will find it scary."

IFTN: The Watched is out in Irish cinemas now, why should people go see it?

HANNAH: “Ishana Shyamalan is going to be a huge writer and director. This is her first movie, and very important because of that. I’m also very excited that so many people are going to see Emily and I on screen. Also, A.M Shine wrote the original book this is based on. He’s a fantastic Irish writer. Oh, and it’s made in Ireland with almost an entire Irish cast and crew.”

EMILY: “So hard to give one. It’s pretty much an Irish movie.  It was filmed here with a huge amount of Irish people. The book is by an Irish writer and is based on Irish stories that our ancestors used to tell.”

“People think that the likes of cute Irish fairies and leprechauns and pookas are harmless but The Watched will change their minds. There’s a bunch of twists and turns that make it different to any other horror movies out there so you never know what to expect. There’s loads of great Irish tales that could be made into big movies and I hope this is the start of that.”

IFTN: Do you have any other projects coming up?
HANNAH: “Yes, I have a short film called Come Back written and directed by Helen O’Reilly, and I have a bunch of TV movies that I've already auditioned for. Come Back is coming out later this year.”

EMILY: “I’m not committed to anything right now, but I’m shortlisted for a movie and also a TV show. I should hear about them shortly. If anyone wants me in their production, please hire me, I love to act and want to do more.”

The Watched is currently screening in Irish cinemas.





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