Check out Jonathan and writer/director, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s interview with MSN Movies to talk about C.O.G. during Sundance Film Festival.
MSN Movies: How do you get to be the first guy to make an official David Sedaris film?
Kyle Patrick Alvarez: It’s been a long sort of … I’ve always wanted to do it but it’s always felt at arm’s, you know, it always felt kind of just out of reach. And after I finished the first movie (“Easier with Practice,”) I thought well maybe now’s an opportunity to try. I have something else. I have some way in. And at first all his representation were like, “It’s a policy. He just doesn’t say yes to these things.” And I was trying to say, “Well this one’s different.” And then they were just, “Yeah, we’ve heard that one before.” And I was like, “No, but it really is.” And it was that kind of back and forth for a really long time to the point where I just had to go to a book signing of his, hand him a copy of “Easier With Practice” and say, “Hey I’ve got…” You know, I didn’t pitch it to him. I just sort of said, “I have some ideas. If you like the film I’d love to talk to you.”
And then after his tour, I think I handed it to him in September and I heard from him at the end of December. And it was just a really …he was just really gracious and surreal. Like it was surreal to me that he was really, you know, he was kind of open to it. We got along. I think he liked my pitch on it, which was “Okay. I’m not going to … it’s not really going to be you. It’s going to be your story, but it’s not going to necessarily look like you or sound like you. You know, I like this story even if you hadn’t written it. I would still want this story.” And in some ways it’s been amazing to have his support that way, and he (showed) support in a very different way. And he talked about it a little bit last night. He wasn’t supportive in the way he read through the script or came and visited the set. He was just supportive of me and very encouraging about it and very positive always about it and always getting together with me in town when he came through Los Angeles, which for me was such a motivator to be ‘Okay, this guy is believing in me do this and I respect him so much,” and that’s definitely what helped me get through the three years it took try to get people to let me make it.
And Mr. Groff, I’m curious about how you got involved and in touch with the material.
Jonathan Groff: I got sent the script, and Kyle said he wanted to meet with me. And when I read the script I was really confused because I knew it was a David Sedaris short story. And I just saw David Sedaris, and I thought, “I don’t look like him or sound like him, and I can’t do an impression of him, so I wonder why Kyle’s eager to meet with me for this film.”And we sat down, and he sort of explained that it was Sedaris’ story but he was not looking for an impression but for just someone to sort of inhabit the character. And when I sat down with Kyle he’s so … when he speaks about his work he gets so excited and so passionate that I knew that it was something that I had to be a part of because he was so inspired by the material and inspiring to talk to.
Samuel’s whole thing is … I can just picture him being one of those guys like me who likes Thoreau a bit too much with self-reliance, but what he really needs is self-awareness.
I mean how do you tap into…
Alverez: He does read “Walden.” That’s one of the books he’s reading.
Alvarez: Which I was bummed because I remember when they put up the trailer for “Upstream Color” it was passing over a table with a close up of “Walden”, and I was like the “Walden” references here’s …
Alvarez: Thoreau — he’s hot, he’s sexy, he’s dead.
Groff: So hot.
Alvarez: So, so in, so right now. So dead author chic.
But I mean how do you tap into playing an intelligent, articulate cluelessness in a way that’s like human behavior and not a Will Ferrell character?
Groff: I think there’s an innocence to Samuel that is sort of the way, and it sort of makes him relatable. There was a line last night, last night was the first night I’ve ever watched it with an audience, and there was a line last night that played in the bar where he says, what does he say?
Alvarez: He’s like, “I just think people are so intimated by me.”
Groff: Yeah, and there’s sort of a complete unawareness that it’s humorous. And so I think that for me was the way and to sort of make him more likable and not so much of an a**hole. It was difficult though because he definitely, and David said it last night in the talk, he said, ” I forgot how pompous I was when growing up; watching this movie made me realize it.”
Right, but I mean the difference between pomposity and arrogance is like manslaughter versus murder. I mean there’s not a lot of intent there, right? Was there?
Groff: No, totally. It’s really, and I’ve said it couple of times today, (a thing) I think we can all relate to. I never went to college, but when I left home, when I left my hometown and struck out in the world I felt like I knew what I was doing. I had a plan because I had no sense of reality of what anything was actually going to be like. And I think that everybody can relate to being that age and sort of striking out thinking, “I’m going to take the world by storm,” or “I’m going to go to this small town and sort of honor them with my presence and my smarts,” and then they sort of end up teaching you a lesson. And I think even outside of that when you’re young even today we think we have our s**t together, but life introduces us to different people and puts us in different situations where we’re constantly forced to question who we are and sort of redefine who we are as we make our way through.
Read the full article »