Galveston is the story of ex-con and mob hitman, Roy (Ben Foster), who is forced to go on the run when a job goes sideways. Complicating things further is a young woman named Rocky (Elle Fanning), who saw the whole thing happen and recognizes Roy as her ticket out of town. The pair hop from one bad motel to the next, contemplating their futures and grappling with their complicated pasts. The film is directed by Mélanie Laurent (you may recognize her as Shoshanna in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds) and adapted by a novel by Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective).ScreenPicks spoke with Robert Aramayo, who plays a scheming opportunist who gets in Roy’s way, about his time making Galveston.

ScreenPicks: Have you seen the finished film yet? 

Aramayo: I have.

ScreenPicks: And, what did you think?

Aramayo: I loved it. I think it is the movie that Mélanie wanted to make, and I think that Elle is amazing, Ben is amazing, and it tells a story and does it very well. It’s a cool movie.

ScreenPicks: What was your favorite scene to act in, and what was your favorite scene as a viewer?

Aramayo: Anything with Ben was amazing and fun to do. I felt like I was working with someone who is so experienced and who is teaching me so much that I can’t pick a single scene. Just working with Ben was an absolute joy.

To watch, I don’t know really! It’s a tricky question. There are scenes that I love because of Mélanie’s work and the way that she shoots it, and then there are the scenes that I love because of Ben an Elle’s performances … It’s difficult to say really because everyone shines in different moments. I just love watching those two actors work together, and that was a joy to watch as an audience member.

ScreenPicks: How was the overall filming process?

Aramayo: Fun! When you’re working with great people on every level … every stage of filmmaking was a joy to be a part of. I felt like I learned so much from everyone. It was a humbling but also very gratifying experience. I’m just pleased to have been a part of it. Ben brings such an ease and he is such a generous actor, it really was awesome to work with him.  And, when you’re working with actors like that you grow, so I’m thankful for that.

ScreenPicks: Is there one thing in particular that stands out that you learned from Ben?

Aramayo: I think the main thing was his ease. He’s relaxed … It’s what he brings off camera as well as what he brings on camera. He’s a great guy and what makes him great as an actor is also what makes them great as a person. And it’s the same with Elle and Melanie. Inevitably it’s what they do on and off screen that helps you.

ScreenPicks: Mélanie is also an actress. Did you find that that added a different dimension to her directing — something unique?

Aramayo: Yes! It was my first time interacting with someone like that. She’s been in both pairs of shoes. She’s experienced every kind of color of being an actor and she’s been a director for a while as well. She brought a relaxed energy to the set and it’s encouraging naturally because you do feel supported. Because of the fact that she’s an actor it’s a nice experience.

ScreenPicks: You play someone who disrupts Roy’s life on the run. Did you enjoy playing a “bad guy,” so to speak?

Aramayo: Well I don’t see him as a bad guy. I see him as a great guy! [Laughs] He’s an opportunist and a businessman, and I certainly enjoyed the game that he presents. It’s a simple task for him: He’s trying to get this guy on board and do his plan, and if he can’t he’s not gonna make loads of money … I enjoyed getting into his mind and thinking about what was possible if things had gone a different way for him, I guess.

ScreenPicks: It will be surprising for people who watch this performance to learn that you are actually in English actor. How did you master the American accent and not have a hint of your English accent bleed through — did you use a coach or just watch American films?

Aramayo: Firstly, I came to America when I was 17 and trained at Julliard with an exclusively American class. So, for four years, all of the work that I did in school was around American stories and working with American actors and working on an American sound. That was my education, so I guess there’s that. And secondly, yes, I did work with a coach on this. We found somebody who is from Texas and I spent some time with her. I went to Galveston as well and spent some time in Galveston and spoke to people and made friends. I just think … it’s important to me. It’s really important to try to resonate with the major environmental circumstances that surround the character. It was important for me as an actor, for example, in this process, to go to Galveston and see life. It’s not about sounds really. It’s more about why a person speaks that way, how their environment affects their voice, energetically, what a dialect brings to the character. All of those questions are more important then hiding an English accent or whatever it is. The most important thing is connecting with the energy of the character and why they sound that way. That’s the main thing. If you want to make a really American movie I think that work is required.

ScreenPicks: The film doesn’t offer a happy ending to any of the characters. Do you prefer a story like that, one that is a little messy and doesn’t have everyone’s skipping off into the sunset at the end?

Aramayo: Oh my god, absolutely! I mean those are the best stories I think, because they represent life, you know? When you meet Rocky, there’s no way … when I read the script — and I’ve seen the movie and I know what happens — and there’s no way that I think that she’s going to end up where she ends up. There’s just no way. We are built to think that a character like Rocky is going to come full circle and it’s going to be some sort of Pretty Woman stuff, but life isn’t like that. The movie jars you in that moment the way that life jars you and surprises you. And, those are my favorite stories to watch and to work on. They just feel like they’re provocative and that they’re about life.

Galveston opens in theaters this Friday, October 19th.