Cannes Interviews (20/05/06)
Talent: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Dwayne Johnson, Richard Kelly, Sean McKittrick
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Krysta Now)
Q. What attracted you to working on the Southland Tales?
A. Richard Kelly. I actually signed on to the film before I read the script. Richard came and he presented a world to me, an idea and a concept and presented it so thoroughly that I couldn't say no. It's the difference between a filmmaker and a director and he is a filmmaker and he creates a universe that you can only do your best in.
Q. What was it like working with such a diverse cast?
A. A dream come true. I was lucky because my character floated with the storyline so I probably got to work with the most amount of people. I just couldn't believe I was working with these people everyday. I have wanted to work with Dwayne ('The Rock' Johnson) for a while and we've been trying to find the right project but you look at us and it's not the most obvious decision in the world. But also Cheri Oteri, Amu Poehler, John Larroquette and Wallace Shawn…I'm very lucky.
Q. Tell us a bit about the character you play?
A. I play Krysta Now who is an adult film star but she's also a reality television star, she has an album, she has a soda drink…she's a multi industry and she's in love with Boxer Santoros played by Dwayne (Johnson).
Q. What do you think audiences will take away from Southland Tales?
A. All I want them to do I think. The most important thing to me about art is that it makes you re-examine things but it's also evocative and that's all that I ask of people, whether it makes you angry, whether it makes you sad, whether it makes you unhappy with the world. I want you to feel something and go home and talk about it and keep speaking about it and that's what Richard (Kelly – director) does, and that is what art is supposed to make you do. It's supposed to make you feel something.
Dwayne Johnson – Boxer Santaros
Q. How are you enjoying Cannes?
A. Man, I love it. First time here and I'm excited, I'm thankful, I'm grateful, and I got a movie in competition!
Q. Tell us about the character you play, Boxer Santaros.
A. Complicated. Always searching for the truth, he's a paranoid schizophrenic, has amnesia, can foresee the future and he knows the world is going to end in three days. On top of that, he has a girlfriend who's a porn star and a wife he doesn't know about, so there's a lot going on! It was really challenging but I was fortunate to get the material.
Q. How did you get involved in Southland Tales?
A. A combination of things. I sat down with Richard Kelly first because he said before you read it (the script) just sit with me and let's just talk. So, we had about a 3 hour lunch and he showed me great artwork, such as what I would look like and the characters would look like and then said now go read the script. I read the script and I loved it, so between a combination of knowing Richard's work and sensibilities and reading the script I said 'let's do it!'. Plus, it's fun, when you think of a movie like this you never know what's going to happen with it, you never know where it's going to go, we were getting money from so many different places to fund this film and we wind up in Cannes!
Richard Kelly – Director
Q. You've assembled such a fantastically diverse cast for this movie, was that something you always had in mind for Southland Tales?
A. We got Seann William Scott, who became attached to the project two years ago. And then I sort of built the film around him and the actors we were getting interest from all had that same great comedic skill and had come from that same place of doing action or comedy films and being categorised or pigeon holed and were seeing this film as an opportunity to challenge that and re-invent that perception. So that became the style of casting the film and we just went with it. And I had the best time with every actor on this movie, I think they're all great.
Q. After the success of Donnie Darko, did you feel any added pressure you whilst making the movie?
A. Definitely a lot of pressure. I put that pressure on myself too because I want this movie to be better, I want it to be a worthy follow up and I want to feel like I've made a step forward in my abilities. I mean, it took a long time to get this sucker off the ground but I just want it to be worth it, so yeah, of course there's pressure but I feel very relaxed and happy that I did the best job I could.
Q. What do you think audiences will take away from Southland Tales?
A. I think they'll take many things away from it but for me it comes down to a very simple idea of forgiveness. Ultimately, that's what the movie is about. I mean, the final concluding images in the film speak to that more than anything and all the complicated puzzles and procedures can still be decoded, discussed and analysed but in the end it does come down to a very simple theme, which is what I hope people will take away. They may not when they first see the movie, but that's the way my films will always be I guess. If it sticks in your brain, then I've done my job.
Q. How excited are you that the film is in competition at Cannes?
A. It's my first time and it's so exciting, everyone's so honoured especially Sarah (Michelle Gellar) and Dwayne (Johnson). This is one of the biggest things that has ever happened to me in my life.
Sean McKittrick – Producer
Q. What kind of challenges did Southland Tales present you with in terms of getting it made?
A. It was a very ambitious film, the same with the script and because it was so ambitious it needed to cost a certain amount of money and what the market was dictating our budget should be was not what we needed to make it profitable. Eventually, we found a happy medium and got a lot more out of the money that we had than other people probably could have done. It helps to have friends! The crew were fantastic and really took nothing for everything and that's what it really comes down to.
Q. Tell us about the unique casting for Southland Tales?
A. We did it purposely; we wanted to cast great actors who would be doing something they had never done before and we were pretty lucky because the people we wanted, ended up doing it. We wanted to subvert the media perception of these people and it excites Richard (Kelly – director) to work with people who are really passionate and if there's an actor working on a role that they haven't done before, then they're bound to be more passionate about it.
Q. Was it a shock to you that film is appearing in competition at Cannes?
A. Well it was a shock because we sent through a DVD that was a very rough cut of the film and would have had no more than 20% of the visual effects in it, no mixed sound and no sound design. In that respect, you lose a lot of the film and can only really focus on the movie's potential which is hard as the last third of the film has a lot of the visual effects in it. So it was a shock, but did myself and Richard have it in the back of our minds that this film would appear at Cannes and that it's the right kind of film to appear at Cannes? Yeah, but we never thought given the timings and everything that we'd get a good shot at it. The fact that the festival really got behind it and gave us the great honour of being here was just unbelievable. It hasn't really set in yet and no matter what happens in the rest of our careers, our second film is in competition at Cannes!