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C’mon C’mon Writer-Director and Star Gaby Hoffmann on Intimate Film – The Hollywood Reporter

Mike Mills . Black and White Film Come on is a beautiful exploration of the relationship between a young boy named Jesse (played by Woody Norman) and his uncle Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) as he grapples with growing up and his complicated family.

The filmmaker said Mills’ script was inspired by his relationship with his own child, while star Gaby Hoffmann was drawn to the script due to her experience as a mother – and because She thinks this is a rare story based on “things that I think about all the time. ”

Mills and Hoffmann spoke to CHEAP about how A24 came to be, young Norman’s incredible talent and why Phoenix – at first – thought he couldn’t deliver what the script demanded of him.

Where did you get the idea for the movie?

MIKE MILLS The seed or the soil is entirely up to me and my children – that’s where it begins. The interests in the film come from my experience as a parent with my very specific children. And then the tree born from that seed has a different shape and a different thing of its own, but it cannot exist without that beginning. But how interesting is it even to me are from us and not – all that the different actors have brought, what the scripting process has brought, what the different cities have brought, represents this original intent in all respects. in ways that I could have predicted, but were also pleasantly surprising.

Gaby, how did you get involved?

GABY HOFFMANN I received a very pleasant email from Andrea Longacre-White, our producer, whom I have known for many years, saying that Mike would like to have dinner with me. I said, “I’m not too busy. Guaranteed!” It was very flattering and very enjoyable, and we had a lovely long dinner in Brooklyn on a balmy summer night that I see now as the beginning of what was hoped would be a life. lifelong conversation about everything, because the movie is about everything.

MILLION When we had that dinner, remember where I was with all of Joaquin Phoenix?

HOFFMANN You’re still in the process of flirting with him. You told me that hopefully it will work. It is still undetermined. Anyway, at the end of that dinner, I stayed completely, because I just wanted to keep talking to this person. I feel confident that the partnership will be successful. And then the screenplay – maybe this is hyperbolic – but I think it’s my favorite movie script I’ve ever read. Not just because it’s so beautiful and well-written, but because it’s saying things that I’ve always thought about. I’m a mother, and this is my life, and that’s not what I usually see in screenplays.

Mike, how was the flirting with Joaquin?

MILLION He was really sweet, and we had a good meal together. He came to the meal, I thought, to tell me, “This is fun, but I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to do it justice. I wouldn’t know how to say yes to this, to really bring you. ” I said, “Everything about you is super fun and feels right for the money for me.” And the soul I was seeing, the love of humor and the ability to talk about anything. whatever, that’s all he needed to send that guy off it seemed like it was over, but then he texted me the next day with just a question about problems in movie – not even a script, just a conversation about kids and adults, parenting and family and all layers of that. … All the while, I still don’t know the story. Then he came to my office, we read the script a lot and we started talking again, either teasing each other or just having a really fun sex. , creation. And that happened for month. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I thought, “This is interesting. And I’m learning a lot about my script and it’s nice to have a teammate. “I was so happy and in love at the same time.

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Woody Norman (left) and Joaquin Phoenix as his uncle in A24 Come on.
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes / A24

How did you find Woody?

MILLION Obviously I did a great job in my past life because he got to the very first casting, like a two or three kid. And he’s British, so he always speaks with an accent. And he can cry at any line. He’s just a very insightful person. And I get a little mad trying to keep people from portraying him as a child actor, because I feel like that’s constantly undermining his work.

HOFFMANN I said the same thing for months in these interviews, when people said, “What would it be like to work with this child actor? Would you give him any advice because you’re a child actor? And I think, first of all, we’re all queuing up for advice from he. He’s the most expertly prepared, and it’s just a privilege to work with him, as well as to work with any talented, intelligent actor. He has ideas, like any other dedicated and hard-working actor. He brought something new and fresh. He made my job so easy. Someone said to me in an interview – I’m not kidding – something like, “This kid is so good. I almost thought for a second he was a normal human being. And unfortunately, that’s a common feeling people have: like kids who are somehow not people. Of course, they don’t necessarily work in the same way – emotional management, sophistication, erudition, whatever – but they are human. And they are usually not treated that way.

How did you and Woody develop a relationship?

HOFFMANN Mike took Woody and I out on a couple of dates – we were chapered, of course, and we went out together. We went for lunch one day. We went for a walk. The next day, we hung out a lot at Mike’s office. Mainly talking about the weird YouTube videos he watches. Jokes, talks about food, music that he likes – he is very attractive. He had a lot to say about everything, so I really just listened. I feel like we have an easy relationship with a little distance, almost like a son and a mother might have. I don’t mind if our relationship doesn’t feel extreme and intense right away – that doesn’t worry me. It feels familiar, like kids and their mothers, especially at that age, like they’re going through something, but it’s so easy at the beginning.

Mike, what was the most challenging scene for you?

MILLION Movies are often very small, intimate – like two people in bed or two people in a bathtub. But then that scene where [Johnny] loser [Jesse] on a New York City street and the bus came in, like 300 extras, two cameras, a bus, all the cars were ours – so that was a lot of choreography. It’s a different kind of monster. The same thing in New Orleans, when they went to that parade, it was about 300 people all dressed up. Filmed in New York City, all the people going up and down were just pedestrians, and Joaquin was really good at using the Force, and no one knew it was him and we were far in front of the tube. long glasses, and no one knew that we’re making a movie.

The kids Johnny interviews throughout the movie – are they real interviews, or are they child actors?

MILLION I did a project many years ago with SFMOMA where we interviewed kids whose parents worked in tech companies about the future. And I’ve done this kind of work in the past. … So as I begin to write this, I want to have all this intimacy [for the characters], but then I want to throw them out in a big world of kids. I said, “Those interviews, what if I could combine them?” The kids you see in the movies, they’re all powerless. Those are all actual interviews. Nothing scripted. I had the question, but then Joaquin and Molly Webster, who really is [a producer from] Radiolab, will actually be there with the kids.

It’s strange to have Joaquin Phoenix suddenly walk into your bedroom. Sometimes people will say, “You’re the Joker!” And he would say, “Yes, but if you want to talk about it, do it for a minute. Can you tell me about your room? ” or, “What do people always get wrong about your neighborhood?” The kid had no choice but to be there and do the interview, and both were magical in doing it.

What does the title of the movie mean to you?

We don’t learn about its importance until the end.

MILLION I wrote that title, but I really don’t know what it means. I simply love it. And I like it open-ended and it works for me. Always that. I don’t have a good explanation.

The edited interview is long and clear.

This story first appeared in the independent November issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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