Were there any constraints about telling Pfizer's story?|
Ed: Well, obviously we were making a romantic film and not a documentary. That being said we felt that we had great licence to tell the truth because so much of it had been documented. It was coincidental that while we were shooting the United States Justice Department levied the largest fine in its history against Pfizer: $2.3 billion for various repeated offences, many of which we talk about in the film. Not surprisingly they paid the money and went on to have their stock price unaffected. But we've not heard from them directly. I have spoken to some reps who have seen the movie, some who were involved at that time and felt that we were accurate. Most surprisingly, last week a couple of reps who had been to Pfizer conventions at that time have seen the movie and said, "How do you know what we did?" We thought it was satire when we did it, but they said, "Dancing girls and fireworks - that was quite accurate!"
Anne: The Macarena?
Ed: I never thought that I would hear it again, but yes.
Did you do a lot of physical preparation for the nude scenes?
Anne: When it came to decide how the character would look, I did a lot of research into the side effects that Parkinson's medication has on the human body. I actually found that in the majority of cases it causes people to lose weight, so that was my jumping-off point for how I was going to look in the film. Had the medication caused people to gain weight, I would have gained weight and still done the nudity, because I think the nudity is a really essential part of the story and shows the intimacy that Jamie and Maggie feel together and how their relationship shifts from sex into love. And I think the film is a really wonderful and truthful exploration of intimacy in a relationship.
Jake: I do honestly believe that Anne would have changed her body however it needed to be changed for the character. If it said that Parkinson's meds meant that you gained weight, or something happened and somehow you became Iron Man or something, she would have done that. She really would have. That's the kind of actress she is. Me, on the other hand, it's purely vanity! No, I think it is an essential part of this story and I think it was one of those things where, when you're working with someone like Ed, you know that it's going to be done well. I wanted my character to be a little skinny and sinewy and slimy.
The nudity shows how their relationship shifts from sex into love
Ed: We've been asked about this a lot, and I try to turn the question around in my head and imagine doing this movie without the nudity. When people are first in love and are as into each other as these people are, that bed becomes their world. They eat there, they talk there, they sleep there - everything sort of exists in that place. And had we done the movie with the sheets pulled up to their necks like Rock Hudson and Doris Day in Pillow Talk, it would have been naff. These are the kind of actors who really are committed to authenticity. If what they were doing was just being photographed making love, I think that would have been difficult and exploitative, but they had a lot of acting they had to do. They had comedy and transitions and emotions to get to, and the absence of clothes was their costumes.
Was this the way it was always envisioned?
Jake: At first it was a script about a guy who changes as a result of meeting a girl. When Anne came onto the project it changed, and it became about two people falling in love. And I think we all decided that if we were going to tell a love story, one of the essential elements of a love story is sex - and it should be. And if we were going to be as open and intimate in the love story as we could be, we'd have to do the same thing in the sex. When you see two people in a movie like that, particularly as an actor, and they're portraying two people in love, how do you really, truly, even unconsciously believe that these two people are going to be in love if they don't want to be naked around each other? I don't know about you, but I've never had sex with boxers on, and it's an odd thing to watch an actor do.
Anne: Don't reveal too much, honestly! Be careful, they'll print it!
Jake: That's not to say that I haven't tried! I just don't recommend it. But that was really important to us because we knew that if we did, we'd get somewhere in the audience's unconscious the idea that these two characters were actually in love and they weren't just actors telling a love story.
Was the physical intimacy more difficult than the emotional rawness?
Anne: With the nudity, we discussed what we wanted to do beforehand, we discussed what we were comfortable with, we traded references from other films in order to establish sort of an index of communication and references that we could all share. So by the time it came to do those scenes we were very well prepared. Some of the intimate scenes required even more trust and were even more difficult to work through - to get yourself into that place and sustain it for a long period of time, and to be able to return back to those emotions again and again. Physical challenges are one thing, but to actually leave yourself open and to mean it like that, I found it to be quite difficult some days and that's why I was so grateful that I had Jake as a partner. He was so sensitive and respectful during the love scenes, and even more so during the emotional scenes.
Can you see yourself in Maggie?
Jake: I could see myself in Anne's character. I mean, the hair! I could see myself in her hair! Sorry.
Anne: God, I wish I had some of Maggie's toughness and temper. I wish that I was a more confrontational person like her. I had a lot of fun playing that but I'm pretty diplomatic. Although I'm a Scorpio, so don't cross me!
Was it difficult to get into her skin and then get out of it again?
Im still learning a lot about how to do my job on camera and off.
Anne: I'm still learning a lot about how to do my job on camera and off. And this job really confused me in a lot of ways. I didn't know how not to take her home with me. Because she's such a different character than me, I was afraid to let her go at the end of the day. I thought, "Oh my gosh, what if she's not there in the morning?" I was also playing a character who was trying to avoid feeling fear, so my comfort with my fear but her discomfort with hers - and her attempt to avoid it and my inability to let it go at the end of the day - created some very confused and tearful nights. Those scenes were difficult to film, and Ed really had to sit there with me, hold my hand and be very patient and talk me through it. I hate being that kind of needy actor; I love just showing up and doing my job and it being a snap. But that wasn't this time. And I learned an awful lot, just like my character does, about what it's like to need people around you. Those are difficult lessons to learn, but I'm just so lucky that these were the boys that I got to learn them with.
Did you ever worry that Maggie remind people of Ali MacGraw in Love Story?
Anne: I was more concerned that people were going to be reminded of Total Recall.
Jake: She actually has six breasts!
Anne: I'm not going to talk about how many breasts you have, Jake. I thought we were keeping that private. Anyway, I am embarrassed to say that I've never seen Love Story, so I can honestly say it was not on my mind. But from what I understand in that film, Ali MacGraw has a terminal case of cancer and Parkinson's is a degenerative disease, which inherently changes the discussion in the story. It's not "I'm going to stick by you until the end, which is soon", but "Am I going to stick by you to the end, which is not guaranteed to be any time soon and is going to get increasingly difficult as time goes on?" So I wasn't worried that the stories were similar, because they're not.
DORCHESTER, LONDON • 11.NOV.10
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