Joseph Quinn is perched in a shady villa garden on Venice’s Lido. The handsome Brit has come to the Venice Film Festival with Hoard, the unique debut from British writer-director Luna Carmoon, in which he stars.


"I think any actor would be lying if they said that they hadn’t dreamt of taking a film that they’ve made to a festival, let alone Venice," he says. "It’s an extraordinary part of the world. And in this business, it’s not always rosy. So you’ve got to kind of lean into the bits where it’s cause for celebration."

To be fair, the British actor has plenty to celebrate at the moment. After featuring in Season 4 of Stranger Things as Eddie Munson, he’s been swept up by Hollywood, with roles in the forthcoming horror prequel A Quiet Place: Day One and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2.

On top of that, he’s about to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing Johnny Storm – aka the Human Torch – in a reboot of The Fantastic Four But it might well be his searing turn in Hoard that he’ll be best remembered for.

The film focuses on Maria (brilliant newcomer Saura Lightfoot-Leon), a surly teen living with a foster mother who is suddenly sucked into an obsessive relationship with Quinn’s older Michael. With this roguish character a former foster care kid himself, Carmoon took inspiration from her own upbringing for his creation. Carmoon knew a lot of foster care kids when she was young, even remembering seeing poster campaigns urging adults to take children in.

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She calls Hoard “a little ode to a boy that I grew up with, who’s no longer here anymore with us… the idea of Michael was kind of birthed out of him. The Michael that’s on the screen is very different to this bloke, really.

"But the idea [came from him]...I’d never been in a room with a male that I didn’t find threatening, that I didn’t think was going to assault me in some way. [But he was] the first man I’d been alone in a room with, and I felt an ease and tranquility… and that was the birth of Michael, in a way.”

Whatever planted the seed for Carmoon, the Michael seen on screen turned out to be quite different. “He’s a duplicitous, adulterous, manipulative guy, but he’s insane. Because he’s madly in love,” says Quinn. “He says it in the film: ‘I’m mad about you.’ Because he’s going mad.

"Being deeply in love with someone is a form of madness, and you’re completely at the disposal of that person. And you’re powerless over that person. And it’s a really vulnerable place to be.”

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According to Carmoon, Michael's bad behaviour was rather overlooked by some. “I don’t condone him. I think he’s a disgusting human,” she says. “But it interesting on set with the crew: [People would say,] ‘Michael, Michael, oh, he’s so cute.’ Or ‘He’s fit. He’s attractive. Love a man like Michael...’

"And I was like, ‘You’re all crazy, watching this.’ And then when they watched the screen, they were like, ‘Oh, he’s horrible! He’s horrible!’”

Still, it’s understandable why she cast the charismatic Quinn, whose magnetic intensity radiates on screen. Was she a Stranger Things fan? "I actually had no idea he was gonna be in Stranger Things," she admits.

"Weirdly, I’ve seen him in a lot of British TV. And I love period stuff. And I saw him in Howard’s End. And there was something striking about him. And my Mum and sister were watching it. I wasn’t really watching it. But I passed through and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s unusual!’”

When she cast Quinn, he’d already wrapped Stranger Things. Then, after finishing Hoard, he was doing press for the Netflix show. “Every job is different,” he concedes. “And it was certainly an interesting experience being part of something that you’re aware of [like Stranger Things].

"There will be many eyes on it. And what’s gorgeous about this one [Hoard] is that you want to get eyes on it. You’re looking at it through a different lens. But both different experiences, both enriching, and interesting in their own way."

Joseph Quinn
Joseph Quinn. Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Intriguingly, Hoard was shot close to where Carmoon comes from – Hither Green, in south east London. For Quinn, 30, it was kind of a homecoming too. “I’m from South London, but I’m from south west London. Clapham. Literally in the crew there were like people I went to school with, friends of friends, and there was something about its inherent South London-ness that felt very gorgeous. And there was an all came from Luna. And so that made the bubble feel more sacrosanct for me.”

While he’s now dipping into the Hollywood machine, Quinn hasn’t forgotten what makes him tick, and is all about seeking out challenging movies and experiences, he says.

“I think that’s what we’re here for. I mean, certainly, that stuff is what interests. Otherwise, what’s the point? You want to stretch yourself and be a part of stuff that is going to be provocative and ask questions.” No wonder he’s so fiercely proud of Hoard. “This really felt like a labor of love,” he says. “The fuel in the engine was nothing but creative.”

Hoard is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th May 2024.


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