RON ELDARD ('Lester'):
Director Vadim Perelman said you kept the set laughing with pranks.
Well, this is not the easy set to do pranks on. It actually surprised me the set was really light. Sometimes you do jobs and sometimes you have to just go, "It's time to circle the wagons and this one's going to be a hard day's work and a hard shoot." Sometimes you take the stuff home with you, you just can't help it. This one, oddly, you think it would, but I think [cinematographer] Roger Deakins and his crew were one of the great crews I've ever worked with. [They] were so light-hearted and so amazing. They saved this film in the sense that this was not an easy shoot, and they were just remarkable. So light that you kind of felt like, "All right, you can relax." And Sir Ben, frankly he and I laughed a lot and had really light times in between very dark scenes. We kind of saved the drama for when the camera was rolling. And again, in general, I think with anything, it's best to be relaxed. In sports, it's best to really relax, have as much fun as you can - then go kick some ass. I think people do their best work if they can just relax and forget about something.
Do you think of your character as a bad guy?
I think it's much more interesting that you think he's the bad guy. I would completely disagree with that. What's more interesting to me, and it doesn't happen almost ever when you come and do press, usually [scripts] are not written this way. It's all kind of in the same camp of perception. And with this, at least half the people yesterday that I spoke to would say the exact opposite. People were saying, "You know, I really felt you were in such a hard situation." Then other people, "Oh, you were a bastard." And that's why I wanted to do the job. I think he's very ambiguous. I think he is a decent man. My concern when I first met Vadim and I read the book, is that it's easy if you wanted to find a way out of this, a scapegoat out, it's very easy to lay it on Lester. The audience can escape a little without some abrasions at the end of it, which I was not interested in.
There are a few scenes that we shot that are not in this movie now. Personally I was like, "No, you're not taking those away." It was stuff with my family where you saw how much I loved the kids and how much they loved me. And you saw me and the wife, Kim Dickens, who is such a beautiful actress. You saw scenes with us just sitting in the kitchen - it was a beautiful scene - trying to work it out. You could see that she still loved me and I loved her, but I didn't want to be her husband anymore. I didn't have that. And it was really beautiful.
I think he's a good man who married too young. A lot of people can identify with getting in a relationship that you thought was one thing, and getting into a life that you thought was one thing, and then it didn't turn out that way. Someone else comes along who not only excites you sexually, you have that chemistry, but whose heart seems to be the same as yours, seems to be broken. And you actually can help her not only interpersonally, but in her life.
And that person is Jennifer Connellys character?
Yes, and it doesn't hurt that it's Jennifer Connelly. Though I have to say, again, I don't think they hung their hat on that. He doesn't hang around just because she He's not a predator. He doesn't quickly want to jump in bed with her. That's not what happens. Actually, when I first read it and when I first knew that Jennifer was doing it, my first initial thing was - because I'm cautious about this - I thought, Oh, she's wonderful, a wonderful actress, but she's so beautiful, I guess this character's going to be a beautiful woman. And I thought that Hollywood-wise, they'd just keep it that way. It's very rare to find someone who looks like her who's ready to get that ugly inside, that dirty, that messy, who really will commit to that. You can throw mud on her all day and you're still going to stop the car when she passes by. So I thought, in the end, it worked very well because audiences follow her.