reading here and there I've found a new interview taken with Ryan while in Cannes for the Lost River Premiere.
Enjoy the reading.
This is like a real movie in the sense of being in a dream. Was it something cooking inside you that you wanted to get out in the world?
You know, this idea had a life of its own. It was actually a unique experience for me and it just had this momentum. Suddenly it was happening and people were working on it and we were shooting. Now we are in Cannes and I always feel like I have been two steps behind it to catch up. So it was unique in that way.
Did you take advice from other directors? Did you show anyone the script?
Yeah, Guillermo Del Toro was really helpful. He read the first draft and I think he read the final one and he came in at the end when I had finished the film, so he was like a guardian angel and a godfather.
So when you came up with the plan to direct, did everybody tell you to go for it, or did you really have to challenge people first to believe that you can direct and then get the money?
I think there’s an initial idea of that you should be in it and there are guys out there that are directing themselves and they are making it look easy but it’s not. I don’t know how they are doing it because directing is not easy. I don’t know how they are doing both jobs, but for me, it was just enough to try and direct the film. So it just wasn’t an option really. It was just enough to direct.
You put yourself younger in the film, did you see yourself in the actor?
In Iain? I wish. I love Iain (De Caestecker). He’s deceptively sane. He’s actually quite crazy, and he bottles it up and hides it very well, and when it comes out it’s very well and everything he does is so subtle and refined. Most actors, we all start big and you hone it down during the scene, but Ian starts at a place that most of us finish.
You have obviously been acting for a long time but three years ago I think when you were here for Drive, it seemed to kick start some sort of Ryan Gosling mania. I don’t know if you were aware of much of this. Was it kind of an odd time and did you manage to sear yourself away from ephemeral things like that?
It was a weird year. (laughter) For the most part, I had only made a movie a year, a movie every couple of years and then I made three in one year and I had never done that, and it was just a lot at once and it was a weird year.
Since this film has a dreamy quality, do you actually have a strong connection to your own dream life?
You know, there’s an acting style where you sort of work with your dreams and it’s something that I had worked with when I was younger when you’ll try anything. But there was something in it and more than anything, when you do it with a bunch of actors it gives you a short hand and it’s not so much about your dreams as much as it gives you a symbol that you can refer to as opposed to like having big conversations about ideas. You can talk about this one thing that you know means something to this person and you have an immediate shorthand.
Do you meditate?
I have done TM as well. It’s a form of meditation.
Does it help? What kind of affect does it have on you?
I think it’s just very restful.
The screening last night looked like a pop event. I wondered how you felt about that attention you get?
I mean the thing is, I think this cast is amazing, the actors are so good and they all have their own universe and so I think last night was really special because I think you felt like all these universes colliding, between Matt Smith and Christina Hendricks, and then you’ve got Iain, and it’s a great mix of people and there’s an energy to it.
The casting is very international, and the film is set in Detroit, so was that intentional or they were just the right people at the time?
Yeah they were just the right people, but it turned out that, I think Christina is the only American, Ben (Mendelsohn) I worked with on Pines, and he’s a force of nature. And when I worked with him on Pines, I love his work, but when Ben comes to set, you just get on a ride. And she shows up listening to 2 Live Crew, and he’s doing it like Al Jolson, (laughter) and he’s just a force. And I wanted to try and write something that would give him the space to really kind of stretch out.
Were you familiar with Ben’s Australian films?
Yeah, I loved My Beautiful Kate, that’s where I first saw him.
Would you call this a fairytale?
I think it has a fairytale type of qualities and themes, I tried to sort of use that as a guide.
And what kind of themes would those be?
The fairytale themes? Well I think there are archetypes in the movie that you find in fairy tales. But, more than the fairytale, there was more like this woman with a dream of having a house that she could raise her kids in and trying to hold onto that dream within the walls of her house and she is maintaining that dream, but right outside the doors is a nightmare. And the movie was trying to sort of live on that line.
It’s almost a social realist film in the sense of the story and then you put both impressionistic and also expressionistic kind of ways of making it individual which I find quite fascinating, because it elevates the social realism.
Thank you. There’s nothing more surreal than life. And so we weren’t trying to make something surreal we were trying to capture and focus on the surreal part of those aspects of life. So it was important to involve the reality of the people in the environment, in order to keep that alive.
But having had this experience, are you now thirsty to go back to acting or do you want to direct more and more and perhaps not leave acting behind, but do less and less acting?
No, like I said, I just want to collaborate with people who feel as passionately as I do and if that takes shape like in another acting role, that would be great. There’s something nice about this process being different because it’s just that you get to spend more time with it, which has been three years for me.
So you are in a real relationship and when there’s problems, you can’t abandon them. You have to deal with them and then you get in this wrestling match and it’s not like acting is not hard, it is, but it’s only like for six months.
It is someone else’s problem.
(laughs) Yeah, and this is like to get to live with something for so long, to get to have something to put yourself into for three years is a very different experience.
How was it directing Eva Mendes and what did you appreciate in her as an actress?
I love collaborating with her. She brings so much and she’s heavily into research. She needs to root everything that she does into some kind of reality. I had this idea for this place that’s empty, where no one is accountable for what they do and no one is watching. And so the idea of this club kind of came to me and I wrote it and she started researching it, and she realised that there was this whole scene in Paris in the late 1800s early 1900s, this whole death, macabre, hell café, death tavern, that basically this idea, was really actually rooted in reality. And it’s not that far-fetched. And so she brought all this incredible research, and she also found really important character pieces in the movie, like Billy’s sequined jacket. She didn’t say that it was Billy’s jacket, but she just found it and put it on a rack of stuff and Matt walked in and he saw it and he said, ‘That’s it.’ (laughter) And she just has that way.
So is it different to direct somebody that you have a personal relationship with than a stranger?
I think you want to direct people that you care about because you love them and you want them to be great. You want to show what you think is great about them and I love all of these actors, I really do. I just think that they are so good. I mean, you look at Reda Kateb, he just comes in and he just brought this soul to the movie, and he just emanates this soul, this poetic spirit, and then you have got Mendelsohn who just brings the weather, (laughter) and Matt Smith who had just come from Doctor
Who. He was like commanding universes and you put him in an empty place and there’s an energy to that.
Are you a Doctor Who fan?
I hadn’t been watching the show, but I was watching TV one day and I saw Matt telling all these spaceships something about sending them all to hell, (laughter) and I thought, I wonder what that was like on set because he must have looked really crazy. (laughter)
The music is very important. How did you choose it?
Well, Johnny Jewel’s music is very emotional. When I discovered film it was the 80s and that synthesised sound was part of my discovery of movies. But he’s also a sound designer as well and so he made rain, he made owls, he made crickets, he made wind, and so did my sound designer and they started doing this sort of dance where the lines between score and sound design were getting blurred in the mix and I think it has a very like an evocative effect.
Have you been to Africa recently?
I was at the Congo like two years ago.
You mentioned Matt’s jacket earlier. Have you ever seen anyone wearing the jacket you wore in Drive?
Yeah, nothing makes me happier than when I see it. One day, I walked out in New York and it was two in the morning and I was walking my dog and it was just me and my dog and suddenly this guy in the Drive jacket starts walking down the street.
He must have freaked when he saw you.
Source: CoverMedia / Viva Press