On July 15th, one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Where the Crawdads Sing, will hit theaters. The film, adapted from the best-selling novel by Delia Owens, is poised to be the breakout hit of the summer.
One of the stars of the film, Eric Ladin, was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about the film. His name should be familiar to film and television viewers.
On the small screen, he’s appeared in series such as The Killing, Generation Kill, Boardwalk Empire, Ozark, Bosch, For All Mankind and The Brink. On the big screen, he’s appeared in films like American Sniper, Annabelle and Cursed.
During our interview, we talked with him about his new film Where the Crawdads Sing, working on The Killing and how it changed television and his advice for up and coming actors.
Eric Ladin – Well, I was a fan of the book and had read the books a few years earlier. I was such a fan of the book that I actually had my representation reach out to see if the rights were available because I wanted to see if I could buy the rights and see about making a film. My reps called me and told me that someone named Reese Witherspoon already had the rights, so I was a little late. 😊
Pop Culture Principle – Did you get a chance to meet Reese Witherspoon while working on the film?
Eric Ladin – I didn’t get the chance to meet her. She was in New Orleans on the set, but I wasn’t working when she was on set unfortunately.
Pop Culture Principle – You play the character Eric Chastain. Can you tell us how he fits into the world of Where the Crawdads Sing?
Eric Ladin – For those who know the book, Kya, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones, is on trial for murder and is represented by Tom Milton played by David Strathairn. Eric Chastain is the DA representing the state and trying her for murder. He is a bit of an antagonist in the film in the sense that we are all obviously rooting for Kya. I think he is an attorney who believes that this trial could put him on the map, and he likes all the fan fair that comes with it.
Pop Culture Principle – The main character Kya is played by the wonderful Daisy Edgar-Jones. Can you talk about her performance in the film?
Eric Ladin – Daisy is an extremely talented actor. I was a fan of her work on the series Normal People. She does a fantastic job in the film. In the courtroom, she has a really difficult job, which some would think is easy because she just sits at the defense table the entire time and really doesn’t do any talking, however, that as an actor can often times be more difficult because you really have to work to stay engaged with what is really going on in the scene and let your eyes do all the work and the heavy lifting for you. Daisy has a way of getting that across with just the most subtle things in her eyes. She’s really fantastic.
Eric Ladin – I think any time you have something like this that already has a big following, I think it’s always going to be really difficult, particularly with books. Probably more often than not, we go to see a film in a theater and think that the book was better. I think that is probably fair because the book is our individual interpretation of the story. So, it’s difficult to live up to that, but that being said, I think this film does a tremendous job of living up to it.
Pop Culture Principle – The film was shot in New Orleans. Would you say that the city itself is its own character in the film?
Eric Ladin – Not really because it doesn’t take place in New Orleans, but I will say that the swamp land absolutely is its own character in the film. It was its own character in the book and is also its own character in the film. A big part of the story is the swamp and where Kya lives and how she navigates it. So, they had to really find the right place. I think they wanted to go to the Carolinas where the book takes place, but because of weather and some other things they couldn’t make it work, but there were some spots outside of New Orleans that did work, and production design did a great job of building that area and that space.
Pop Culture Principle – What message, if any, would you want the audience to take away after viewing the film?
Eric Ladin – Delia Owens, who wrote the book, was out there when we were working, and I asked her if Kya was her and she said that Kya is all of us. I think we all have some parts of Kya in us. Now, we all weren’t raised alone in a swamp living off the land, but that being said, I think we’ve all been in a point in our lives when we were looked at as an outcast or a little different.
I think that performance that Daisy gives is going to resonate with a lot of people. You can also look at the people that reach out to her and are really kind to her and how they made a difference in her life, and I think we all have that in our lives as well. I think both of those things will resonate when people go see this film.
Pop Culture Principle – There are several shows I think that have been pivotal for you and your career. One of them would be your time on the AMC/Netflix series The Killing. Can you talk about the importance of that series to your career and being on that groundbreaking show?
Eric Ladin – I am a huge fan of that series. I think The Killing was groundbreaking because it was really the first serialized show that took a crime from the pilot and ran it through the entire season. We see that so much now on television and there are so many series that do that, but I think The Killing was the first to do that. I loved that about the series.
Patty Jenkins directed the pilot, and the finale of Season 2 and did a phenomenal job. I think the pilot of the series, I would argue is one of the better hours of television from top to bottom, it is so good. I loved working with everyone in the cast. We had a great family in Vancouver, and it was a great job for me and my career. I truly loved the creative journey of The Killing.
Pop Culture Principle – You also starred in another pivotal series in your career called Generation Kill. Can you talk a little bit about that series and its impact on you as an actor?
Eric Ladin – That project was really a big break for all of us in the cast. The experience of being in Africa for seven months was unbelievable. We had some crazy times. I think the biggest compliment that the show gets from veterans is that out of any show on television about the life of a marine and a soldier, that’s it. It’s boring as hell and nothing really happens. It was very calculated that the series was going to be a slow burn. We had only two battles in seven episodes. The way we talk to each other, the banter, and the crap we get from leadership that makes zero sense. I love hearing from veterans telling us that our show was the perfect depiction of the life and that is credit to David Simon and Ed Burns.
Pop Culture Principle – You got to play J. Edgar Hoover in the series Boardwalk Empire. Can you talk about how you prepared to play such a polarizing figure on that series?
Eric Ladin – First of all, when I come onto the show in the fourth season, it was already doing fantastic across the board. So, playing someone as well known as J. Edgar Hoover was a bit scary, but that being said, I really enjoyed the process. While one of the more challenging roles that I’ve taken on, it’s also been one of the most fulfilling because of that. I had a wonderful dialect coach that I worked with regularly. The writers and directors of the show gave us ample time to work on scenes and have material ahead of time. That show is another one that is really well done from top to bottom.
Pop Culture Principle – What advice would you give an actor who is just starting their career in the business?
Eric Ladin – Grind! It’s a grind and I think you have to enjoy the process which is not always easy to do. You have to have an incredible amount of discipline because the majority of the time you are not going to be on a set or shooting something, so you have to be disciplined enough to make sure you are doing the work you need to be doing.
Whether that is preparing for auditions, keeping your body in shape, working on dialect. Whatever it is you are doing writing, acting in class with a coach to make sure you are doing what you need to do to make sure you are staying polished.
Pop Culture Principle – Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Eric Ladin – Well, obviously Where the Crawdads Sing will be coming out on July 15th. Also, I’m developing a show right now which I’m really excited about. I’m taking it from the ground up and we are in the midst of developing it right now, so I can’t really say much about it right now. 😊
A huge thank you to Eric Ladin for taking the time to talk with us. Where the Crawdads Sing will be released in theaters on Friday, July 15th!
**Where the Crawdads Sing photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures**
**All other photos courtesy of the Riker Bros**