Robert Budreau and Jacob Tremblay: Queen of Bones

Queen of Bones is a historical, haunting thriller produced and directed by Canadian Robert Budreau and co-starring Canadian Jacob Tremblay.

We subsequently had a chance to sit down with Jacob Tremblay and Robert Budreau at the Whistler Film Festival (WFF).

HNMAG: You grew up in Vancouver?

Jacob Tremblay: I did yeah, my whole life. 


HNMAG: How did you get into acting?

Jacob Tremblay: My older sister started acting. I was never into sports when I was younger. When I was five I had my first audition and was cast in my first movie, The Smurfs 2. I had a really good time on set and kept doing it. Then I did Room (not to be confused with The Room), which was a breakout role. 


HNMAG: My favorite movie of 2019 was Doctor Sleep. That was an intense scene. Did you audition in person for that?

Jacob Tremblay: I was offered that role. It was a very heavy role. It was shot in Atlanta. I went there for a short while and filmed that on my birthday. I remember after shaking off the emotions of that scene, they had a birthday cake for me. I was just enjoying my birthday while covered in fake blood. 


HNMAG: Did you see The Shining before that?

Jacob Tremblay: I watched it afterwards. It’s a good movie. I’m also close with the director Mike Flanagan, he’s a great guy. After Room, The first movie I did with Mike was called Before I Wake. I just turned seven and that was my first lead role. I owe a lot to him. He took a chance on me, he’s a great director and I love working with him.


HNMAG: The Queen of Bones is set in the Northwest but shot in Ontario. It’s very different in terms of the ecology. Was that a challenge?

Jacob Tremblay: I’m not too familiar with the different climates and once you’re on set in costume, and all the set dec is done, you focus on the performance. 


HNMAG: It’s very specific in terms of recreating the time period of 1932. They did an excellent job of making it look like the Depression era. What was it like to live up to that?

Jacob Tremblay: It was definitely a challenge. My character was very much into the cars of the period. To make sure it’s accurate and I remember there was one car that had a long name that they ended up changing, then I had to memorize something different. 


HNMAG: How did you get involved in The Queen of Bones?

Jacob Tremblay: They reached out to me and it was me, Robert, and Julia (Julia Butters who played Lily). We got to know each other. We filmed it in the summer of 2022. It was a fun set. I was very excited because it was my first real period piece. 


HNMAG: What was it like to work with Martin Freeman? 

Jacob Tremblay: He’s great. He’s a really good actor. I had a really good time working with him. Our scenes were very intense and he brings that aura on set. He’s the nicest guy but then once he turns into his character, he generally scares me in the scene. He’s a great actor. 


HNMAG: Are you working on anything else right now? 

Jacob Tremblay: I have a new movie called Orion and the Dark. It’s an animated film on Netflix. 


HNMAG: You have a screening tonight.

Jacob Tremblay: There’ll be a Q&A. I’m excited to get to answer questions. 


HNMAG: You attend a public high school. As a celebrity, does that ever get awkward?

Jacob Tremblay: I grew up in the same neighbourhood that I still live in. Most people already know me. It can be exciting for new kids at the school but it doesn’t take long for them to find out that I’m just a normal dude. 


HNMAG: What do you want to focus on after you graduate high school?

Jacob Tremblay: I want to write. I have several ideas for screenplays and I want to make sure I focus on one that sticks. I’m also going to graduate a bit early because I have a few projects lined up. I’m excited to get to work. 


HNMAG: Being under eighteen, there are strict rules about work hours on set. Did that put time pressure to get everything right on the first take? 

Jacob Tremblay: Not necessarily, they do a really good job of organizing and planning the scenes to make sure we have enough time. 


HNMAG: Did you ever want to set the movie in Canada or was it always supposed to be Oregon?

Robert Budreau: The writer was from Oregon and he had a twin sister though it wasn’t a personal story. Up till the very last minute we were supposed to shoot it in BC. There was a DGC (Directors Guild of Canada) strike last summer, so I had to move the shoot to Ontario. The original script had a lot of references to fog and mist and different types of trees. I had to change a bit of that in Ontario but we compensated with the way we lit it and the way we designed it. It’s never going to have the complete Pacific Northwest feel but we did our best. 


HNMAG: By watching it, I couldn’t tell it was shot in Ontario. 

Robert Budreau: You have to be a bit fussy to tell. It was shot near Port Perry, Ontario. At the end of the day, the core dynamics stayed the same from the script. 


HNMAG: Will this have a big US release? 

Robert Budreau: That’s the hope and we’re excited that Falling Forward Films is our domestic distributor but you never really know with independent films. There are delicate little creatures that have to be handled properly. My goal is to have a cinematic experience with the release. 


HNMAG:  Do you consider The Queen of Bones a horror film?

Robert Budreau: No, I don’t. I consider it maybe a ‘folk-horror.’ To set certain expectations, horror is a dangerous word to use. It’s a very specific sub-genre with very specific tropes and tricks. Something safer to describe it would be a supernatural drama. You don’t want people to say it’s not scary enough. 

Jacob Tremblay: I would say it’s more of a thriller. A supernatural thriller.


HNMAG: What’s next?

Robert Budreau: I’m also working on a lot of things. I’m developing a musical biopic about Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. I’m also working on a few TV projects. 


Queen of Bones is a dark supernatural thriller set in Oregon in 1932. It’s really well made with some spectacular performances. Look for it in the theatre this Spring as that will be a truly immersive experience that will be worthwhile. After that keep on eye out for other projects starring Jacob Tremblay as well as films and TV shows made by Robert Budreau. 

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