January 24, 2015
Transcript courtesy of Crowjane
Interviewed by Ricky Camilleri at the ChefDance & HuffPost Live Media Lounge
HW: No…I don’t… I think… Whenever I read a script, I just read the script rather than think about ‘the doing’ of it. I’m just reading the script for what it is. I don’t know about you, Joe, but–
HW: Not as a ‘fan’, just to read it as a story, and to understand what it is, and just to read the minute detail within it–
HW: How the humans interact. Just read it as a story. And THEN you go, ‘Well, that’s something I want to do.” And then you think–
RC: Can I do it? How could I do it?
HW: Yeah. If the offer’s there, THEN you start thinking about all those things. So the initial thing is just the story itself.
JF: Also, Kim is– our director, Kim Farrant– her process with the actors is kind of not common, it’s unusual… her dedication to the rehearsal period [the] sort of mining and sort of emotional exploration. And so, just reading the script and talking to her on the phone and gauging, ‘Ah, this is the kind of laboratory we’re going to be involved in’ was really exciting.
RC: How exactly is her process different, working with actors, considering what you’re used to, you said?
JF: She’s been an actress, so she understands that, and she… rather like Nicole and Hugo, for me… create a very, very safe and protected environment in which to explore, and to fail and to examine. And so that conversation, and the time to have that conversation– although, as you know [in] the independent world of making movies, you never have [too much] time– But you really did feel that she made every effort, so she was there weekends, days off, mornings, nights, really excavating, mining, and that’s rare.
HW: Well, maybe it’s an understanding that all actors are different, as all human beings are different. So every actor’s “process” is different. Maybe just that in itself is a help for an actor/director because they understand that each individual has a very different process, a different way of approaching something, whereas… but I think there are directors who understand that very very well too, so I wouldn’t say ALL actors would make great directors. A lot of them would be awful. So I think it depends of the individual, really.
JF: There’s a history [between my and Nicole’s characters] which brings them to a strange land, and that is that their daughter had an affair with teacher at school, so they’ve moved from one location to another.
HW: So when we first meet them, they’ve just arrived in this new town. He’s go the job as the local pharmacist, and… they’re very much [just] settling in, and unsettled by this past experience in this other town.
HW: Yeah, it is, isn’t it?
RC: There’s something about pharmacists that I’ve always found to be, like, stiff and rigid–
JF: [Laughs] There’s– yes, clinical, but there’s also– what I love is that he is the carer for the community, so he wears a public face– a mask, if you like– which is all about dedication and attention to the community. But the one place where he’s missing the contact and the care is right at the home, because he feels such a shame of what’s [happened] in the episode before. So he really becomes so involved in his work as a way of deadening having to deal with that. I don’t think he’s got the facility or the dialogue to explore that theme. I think he feels such rage and shame. That he’s caring for the community and then that community kind of lets him down, because it could be any one of those [people] that has taken his daughter. So it’s an interesting place.
RC: And we also get that great foreshadow at the top of the movie where he says, ‘I will not have my business strewn out in front of the people of this town like last time.’ And as a viewer I was like, ‘Oh, yes you will.’ [Laughs]
HW: [Laughs] Yeah!
RC: ‘This is coming!’ You [think you can] say that at the first act of the movie and NOT have that happen by the end…
JF: It’s the idea that your public persona is laid bare, that at any cost… I cannot have my private life… That devalues the strength of his position in the community.
HW: I love the way that one of the first actions we see him taking is that, at night he is actively going around houses, looking in windows, just to see if the daughter is–
RC: Because he doesn’t want to be seen to be searching during the day, which is so strange–
HW: Yeah. Everything buried and hidden, even his searching–
RC: It’s all private.
JF: I think he’s trying to keep control of the situation, because he’s lost it. It’s all about pent-up control–
RC: But it’s even weirder [that way], when he’s peeping in windows–
JF: That brings about a worse effect, yeah.
RC: And it’s like, whose window is that? He’s just going around to neighbors, peeking in?
JF: I think that’s what it is.
JF: He’s going to, sort of, suspects that he might imagine that she might go to within the vicinity.
RC: And that’s what you get a sense of with her–
HW: And she’s very… Being with her on set is very easy, to breathe with her in a scene. You know? It’s very easy to just do your work well with her, and she is very brave, and I… She said a great thing, ‘Between action and cut, I will do anything.’
HW: And it’s not an uncritical mind or facility… It’s actually [that] she’s just prepared to go anywhere between action and cut. And it was a fantastic thing to say. And that’s a measure of how brave she is.
RC: When you’re doing scenes like this with her, and she’s doing anything, she’s going to these wild, desperate places emotionally, do you feel like you, as the actor in that scene, have to be present and aware, and sensitive to how she’s going to feel about this off-camera, or do you feel that affects your process of being on camera as well? I mean, how do you work out the sensitivity of a moment with some of the stuff that she has to do in that film?
RC: The presence–
HW: –And then when you’re in that situation, just being aware– everyone on set, not just the other actors.
RC: We were talking a little bit about process, and I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but we were talking about a scene in the film where we see everything that you’ve [Joseph] gone through go over your face in one take. One shot. And it’s unbelievable how you were able to get there. Can you talk to me about gearing up to do that scene?
JF: We were lucky enough to shoot– in terms of that scene– chronologically, so that ended up being pretty much toward the end of schedule and so all of the release was… sort of ready to be let go. I think I played the character with, you know… for me the one word that came from this whole process was ‘shame’. And a man that has a public persona, and has to carry the shame, and… he becomes blocked. He becomes a man that is enraged. he has no… he’s impotent. He has no control. He’s impotent in many ways.
HW: That is, for me, the greatest strength of the film: it IS about impotence, really, everyone’s inability to express what they feel, to find what they want, to take the right action– ’cause there’s not a lot you can actually do. So the film’s great strength is in that failure and inability of people to connect with each other, and to move forward in their lives. Because when something like the loss of a child happens, the loss is so extreme, and the not-knowing what happened is so open-ended, that you are literally incapable of doing anything. And it’s a great– I think that when the film’s at its best, it’s when that’s so palpable.
RC: Absolutely. Is there a certain irony, you think, to the story, that getting past this shame, getting past this impotence, may have [required] this tragedy? The greatest tragedy that would cause all of this other impotence for so many other families, may have been in many ways the saving grace of this relationship?
JF: Right, that’s very astute. And I love the way you’ve seen that, because I think that, at the end, it’s the beginning of possible repair, because come right– we hurtle– we’re thrown right into this disintegration of a relationship, amd marriage, and all that encompasses, and at the end, they connect. There’s a moment of touch. There’s a moment of genuine connection which has been so absent. And I think that from that moment, there’s a possibility– there’s a sort of redemptive possibility. So that’s a really big component. I think there IS an irony in that. You’re absolutely right.
RC: Yeah. Well, guys, thanks so much for being here. It’s been real pleasure talking to you.
HW, JF: Thank you.
RC: Congratulations on making such a powerful film, and premiering at Sundance.
JF: Thanks a lot.
RC: Pleasure talking to you.