Chicago Film Festival Diary – John C. Reilly Q&A

Last night I arrived early for the premiere of We Need To Talk About Kevin at the Chicago International Film Festival. John C. Reilly was attending, and they had stretched out a red carpet and a step and repeat in the lobby of the theatre. I had my camera ready and a sharpie in my pocket (yeah I wanted his autograph!). He arrived right on time wearing a jaunty hat and fun Colonel Sanders facial hair. He looked just as I thought he would. He walked down the carpet doing short interviews for various publications – seeming unrushed and very personable with the interviewers. He even didn’t break a sweat when some lunatic ran over to the red carpet screaming “DEWEY!! DEWEY COX!!!” I snapped 4 great photos and then BAM my  camera battery died. Darn it! I recently had a wrap party for a film I shot, and had taken so many photos I must have drained the battery. Luckily I had my backup battery on me, I popped it in and aimed for more shots. What do you know — battery dead! Here I was feeling like I was going to be getting the scoop for FilmMisery and my camera is dead. Luckily my Android phone had some juice in it and I pulled it out and took some more pictures!

After he finished the interviews, the film fest staff shuffled him into the elevator and up to the theatre. So I stood there, sharpie in hand, with no autograph. But I did get some fantastic pictures. I rushed into the theatre, getting a seat in the second row. Before the film started Mr. Reilly walked down front and proclaimed: “To the guy in the lobby who kept screaming Dewey Cox .. this movie is not for you.” Everyone laughed of course, and it was genuine – not the kind of ‘you’re a famous person and I must laugh at your every word’ laughter. He then invited us all to stay after the film to “talk about Kevin.” Last year at the film fest I attended the premiere of Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist. It was to be attended by Willem Dafoe. He came out, did a little welcome, and left for dinner. He arrived back a little after the movie had ended. So, I was pleasently surprised when John C. Reilly left the front of the theatre, went 4 rows back, and sat amidst the audience in an empty seat! He was going to watch it with us!!

After the staggering film ended (I will be reviewing it later, so make sure you come back and read that) two chairs were set up and the moderator and John C. Reilly did a very interesting Q&A about the film. I frantically wrote down as much as I could and I will try to sort it for you in a readable fashion below. **NOTE** Although most of this is word for word what was said — some of it will be paraphrased. ALSO, I do not believe any of the below quotes to be spoilers – as if you know the story of this film (or the book it is based on) there are really no spoilers.

On director Lynne Ramsay:
“Lynne is one of the best directors in the world. She has a photographic eye. She is the most confident director I have ever worked with. I’ve never had a director shoot 1 take and then go ‘GOOD! GOT IT! LET’S GO! Usually you will do another take for safety, or you will ask the DP and the cast how they felt. But no, Lynne would say ‘Fuck Safety! I’m on a budget!’ Thats what I look for in a director”

On watching the film for only the 2nd time (the first being Cannes):
“This time I got to sit back and watch the movie in a more objective way. I found myself this time getting lost in the story .. which is a good thing. (this movie) It’s a real ASSKICKER!”

On whether or not he had read the book the film is based on, and how closely it was followed:
“The book is surely a different experience than the movie. It is basically written as letters from Tilda’s character to my character.”
“I’m not a big fan of religiously sticking to source material. When you’re on set looking into someone else’s eyes .. it changes that.”

On how he connects with the film, and his character Franklin:
Its very easy to connect with this film. I’m a parent. You’re either a parent of a child. All of us are either parents or children, so its easy for anyone to connect.”
“I was struck watching this for the 2nd time with one of my lines where I say ‘he’s just a boy .. he’s just being a boy’. I could be delusional, but that is the line that I think I connect most with (to the character).”

On the character of Kevin, and why he does what he does:
“I feel sympathy for Kevin — as you would feel sympathy for any human being. Children are a product of learned behavior, I believe. It’s what he came from. Its about nature vs. nurture.”

When responding to a rather angry sounding audience member who asked: “Do you blame Eva (Tilda Swinton) for everything that happened?
“No I don’t. (When you think about it) starting at the age of 7, children spend the majority of their time with others outside of the home. I’m not speaking for Lynne or Tilda, but I think that Eva was responsible for a lack of a relationship with her child. Just because you are related to someone doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them. But then again I don’t know … I’ve never had a kid like that. I guess that’s why we need to talk about Kevin.” (laughing)

On how filming a serious drama is different than filming “Talledega Nights” or “Step Brothers”:
“It is a bit different, but thats not to say that its all laughs (when working) on a comedy. There’s a sense of purpose no matter what kind of film you’re working on. You’re surrounded by a group of people who are there to do their job.”

On method actors:
“God bless ’em. Some of my favorite actors are method actors .. the kind of actors who walk around in character 24/7. That’s just a waste of my time. I’m always a bit of a jokester trying to lighten the mood.”

On first seeing Tilda Swinton:
“I was at the Toronto film festival sitting in my chair waiting for a movie to start and I see this woman walking down the aisle looking for her seat. My first thought was – ‘who is that lady, the Queen of England? Joan of Arc?’ She looks so regal and so intimidating. Then I realized: Holy shit! It’s Tilda Swinton.”

On working with Tilda Swinton:
“I will admit I was intimidated at first, but Tilda is so warm and open and down to earth. She is a blast to be around, and she is (insanely) funny! (I compare her to) Meryl Streep, who I’ve worked with a couple of time, she is also like that.”

On his new facial hair, and whether or not it is for a role:
“You’ll find out very soon!”

On the tight-knit nature of the cast and crew:
“On set we played and listened to a lot of music. We were shocked when songs that we played a lot just for fun, ended up in the movie. I remember Lynne told me (the song) “Pork and Beans” was going to be in the film and I was like WHAT?!” We all ate dinner at the same house every day after the shoot. Lynne, Tilda, the kids, the crew.”

On working with the 2 different Kevin’s (Ezra Miller and Jasper Newell – young Kevin):
“Ezra was like a great chaperone for Jasper and Rocky (baby Kevin). He would look after them (whenever they weren’t on set).”
“(I remember) Ezra and Jasper rehearsed facial expressions together. They would sit facing one another for hours practicing the smirks. And Jasper really nailed it.”
“Jasper is a real natural actor. It never seemed forced from him.”

On what movies he watched before filming the project:
“Rosemary’s Baby. I watched that because they are both emotional horror movies.”

An audience member stated that she believed Eva suffered from post partem depression. She also said she thought the reason Kevin turned out the way he did is because Eva drank during her pregnancy and perhaps he showed signs of fetal alcohol syndrome. When asked if he agreed with her thoughts John C. Reilly responded:
“I don’t really know. Lynne wasn’t making a film to be figured out by facts. It’s something larger than that. It’s a work of art.”

It was a very insightful discussion and John C. Reilly came off looking like a million bucks. I am still thinking about the film on a whole, so I am going to wait a bit before I review it. That being said Mr. Reilly was great in the film, and Ms. Swinton was magical. I feel very lucky that I was able to attend this special screening and share his thoughts with you all. ALSO – as he left the theatre, I made my way to him and he signed my ticket! So it was a win/win!

Below are more photo’s taken from the premiere – all photo’s by me!

, , , , , , , ,

  • nice Q&A :) and lately i have been really impressed by his choice of movies …

  • Really enjoyed reading this interview! Very funny about his first seeing Tilda at TIFF!

  • I felt Reilly was kind of an odd fit for the film, but the role he plays is small and sweet and appropriate for him. Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller are the true standouts, with this steely and intimate conflict going back and forth between them. And I agree on giving the film time to digest. I saw it a few weeks back, and It’s still crawling under my skin. It’s a testament to Lynne Ramsay’s power that this is her weakest film to date, and that’s not at all an insult to this film.

Privacy Polcy | Contact Us