If you’ve ever used the hashtags #SaveIronFist or #BringBackIronFist, take comfort in knowing that Finn Jones appreciates your messages. Jones, who played Danny Rand / Iron Fist for two seasons on Netflix, thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Marvel universe. Despite a poorly reviewed first season, Iron Fist made improvements in its sophomore season, but it wasn’t enough to save the show from cancelation. Jones would like to play the character again someday, but for now, he’s seeking out new projects.
One of those projects is The Visitor, the new psychological horror from director Justin P. Lange. Jones stars as Robert, an English man who moves back to the United States to the childhood home of his wife, Maia (Jessica McNamee). Upon arrival, Robert discovers a portrait of his doppelgänger, known as “The Visitor.” As Robert learns more about the portrait, he discovers a dark secret about Maia’s family that leads to a series of sinister events.
In a conversation with Digital Trends, Jones speaks about why he gravitated toward The Visitor, discusses his problem with current horror movies, and explains his “unfinished business” with Iron Fist.
Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: What intrigued you when you first read the script of The Visitor?
Finn Jones: I think it was the fact that it was more of a psychological horror than a horror that relies on scares and typical horror tropes. I wasn’t really interested in doing a movie that felt like every other horror movie. This stood out to me because I haven’t seen a doppelganger movie in a long time. The psychological “stranger in a strange land,” Wicker Man-style vibe drew me to it.
Also, [I was drawn to it because]Justin was directing it. Justin’s previous movies, I thought, have been a really welcome departure from the “regular” horror movie genre, and I think he brings a nice arthouse quality to his directing style so that’s kind of what drew me to it.
Your character, Robert, gets so many clues that something is wrong in this small town, and yet, he still just keeps trying to make it work. Is he naïve or oblivious?
No, I don’t think it’s either of them. I think he’s someone that’s struggling with his mental health. You see that he’s taking medication so he’s someone that’s trying to keep his shit together. He’s constantly battling with what his perception of reality is. Also, he’s constantly trying to be the good husband, the good father. He doesn’t want to be a failure. He wants to be someone that can support his wife and start a new life and raise a family. He continues to persevere despite all of the adversity because he doesn’t want to fail as a man.
I think that is what keeps him pushing on despite all of these red flags that are around him. He constantly continues to persevere because he doesn’t want to be a failure. Also, he’s battling with his perception of reality so he doesn’t know if all of this stuff is real or if it is, in fact, just his fucking head. That’s what was really interesting to me. There were these background nuances that were going on within the characters’ inner world that gave him the intention to move forward.
You’ve been in quite a few horrors like Leatherface, The Last Showing, and now, The Visitor. Why does horror appeal to you?
I mean it doesn’t appeal to me at all. In fact, especially nowadays, I find horror movies to be incredibly uninteresting. I love early horror movies. The ’90s and ’80s horror movies were peak horror. Nowadays, horror movies just rely on tropes. I was interested in this horror movie because it didn’t rely on any of those tropes. It really got into the psychological aspect and built up a world and a tone that I just don’t think you see in horror movies these days.
You mentioned that Robert is an anxious character going through a crisis. Did you have to approach this part differently as opposed to your previous roles?
We shot this movie during COVID, and during those years, there was a lot of anxiety floating around with everyone. No one really knew what was going on, when it was going to fucking end, what was real, what wasn’t. There was all this anxiety and confusion and paranoia going around. So I really tapped into that a little bit, the zeitgeist of the time. That’s what helped me get into the character, the uncertainty of the times that we were living in and shooting in. I kind of harnessed it. [Laughs]
It was easy to find inspiration, then.
You’ve been a part of huge franchises like Game of Thrones and Marvel. You’ve probably seen the good and the bad with the fandoms. Did you feel an added sense of pressure in those roles?
I never think like that. I don’t think it’s helpful. The way that I see it, given the script that I have and the character that I have, I show up and I provide the best performance that I can given the circumstances that I’m under. With this movie, I didn’t know what it was going to be like. We were constantly changing that script on the day. We were constantly finessing it to try and make it the best possible movie we could make. But, we didn’t really know how it was going to turn out. All I can do as a performer is show up and play the truth of that role as best as I can, and then hope that at the end of the day when I watch it back, it all comes together in a good way.
With this movie, I was really thrilled. I was so thrilled to see what Justin had done with it. I thought that it landed. I thought it worked. I thought that he creates a really interesting movie with a really good tone. You’re constantly guessing. You’re trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s not like a horror movie that is out there at the moment.
I don’t lend myself to all of that [the pressure]. It’s all kind of irrelevant at the end of the day. I try to leave [my] ego at the door in most circumstances. People’s words, whether they’re positive or negative, whether someone gives me praise or gives me hate, it’s all irrelevant. It’s nothing to do with me. It’s just their perception of what they think I am.
We live in a world where shows don’t get a lot of time to breathe anymore. I think that’s what happened to Iron Fist. Do you feel like you have unfinished business with that character after the cancellation?
Yeah, totally. I mean we call it “sod’s law” in the U.K. [Laughs]
I’m not trying to rehash bad memories.
No bad memories at all, man. I loved that show. I loved everything I learned on that show. I look back at that time with great fondness. It was a struggle and it was intense, but it was great. But yeah, there’s definitely unfinished business. With the second season of that show, we really all worked hard to bring that show back up to code. We were all ready to continue moving forward, and then I think within a month of the second season coming out, all the shows got canceled. It was like a kick in the teeth. [Laughs]
You know, that’s life sometimes. When you get thrown lemons like that, that’s when you can really learn the most about yourself and how you operate within the world. But yeah, I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. I’d love to continue playing the character and I’d love to continue developing it so we’ll see what happens.
I’m sure on every single Instagram post of yours, someone comments #SaveIronFist or #BringBackIronFist.
I love that, man. Even when I’m walking around and out in the world, I still get a lot of love for that show. A lot of people come up to me and say how much they really enjoyed the show, and how they want to keep on seeing more of it. It’s really nice to kind of get that real-world feedback and see that people do care about it and do want to see more of it, as I do.
The Visitor will be on digital and on demand on October 7 and on EPIX December 2022.