November 8, 2011

Every couple shares a secret world that only they inhabit, a subtler, more nuanced sphere that often gets ignored in Hollywood, where grand flourishes of amour are the norm.

It’s not that real-life relationships are less heartfelt than their onscreen counterparts, but that they’re far less showy, more vulnerable, and quieter. Independent filmmakers have been mining the subject for years, and writer- director Andrew Haigh struck gold with his debut film, Weekend, a festival favorite starring newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New as two guys from Nottingham, England, who meet in a bar and have a one-night stand that lasts more than 48 hours.

The film centers on Russell (Cullen, a 26-year-old Welsh actor) and Glen (New, a 30-year-old Brit), whose relationship unfolds over lengthy discussions about minutiae— everything from love to masturbating while watching A Room With a View. “What most excited me about Russell when I first read the script was that he was an everyman. He’s a lost guy living in a world that feels to him like a big, churning machine. He’s just trying to figure out where he fits. Meeting Glen is the only real thing that’s ever happened to him,” says Cullen, who’s currently filming World Without End for Showtime opposite Cynthia Nixon and Ben Chaplin. “It’s a very simple story, and one that I expect the majority of people in the world have experienced,” adds New, who recently played the title character in Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. “I think we’ve all had relationships that shake us up and break down some of the barriers that we all have.”

The key to Weekend’s success is the chemistry between its two leads. New’s mix of silliness and cynicism is matched only by Cullen’s reserved sincerity, injecting their story with humor and complexity without falling back on genre clichés. Based on their debut performances, we hope to see a lot more of Cullen and New in the near future. Maybe next time they’ll give us a whole week.

BULLETT: What’s your favorite secret activity when you’re home alone?

TOM CULLEN: I like to pretend I’m on Master Chef. I like to make the best, most interesting meal I possibly can out of the food I have in my fridge, and then take pictures of it, and eat it. [Laughs.] Also, I have to play my music really loud all the time. Sometimes I’ll just have a little dance to myself, maybe switch the lights off and dance around the house.

CHRIS NEW: This is really sad but I like going on to the White House website and watching President Obama’s speeches. I think he kicks ass. His speeches are just incredible. So if I want a little treat, I go on there and do that. There’s just

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