Writer/director Matthew Hoge based the movie on his own experiences working in a juvenile prison. In this interview, Jena Malone and Chris Klein talk about bringing his characters to life on the screen.
INTERVIEW WITH JENA MALONE AND CHRIS KLEIN:
Chris, did your character have violence in him all along, or did it come out suddenly?
CHRIS KLEIN: Violence all along. I think thats really the question, one of these questions that this movie kind of asks is what are human beings, what are young people capable of? How far and how much emotional stimulation coming at you would have to be negative to force or to allow somebody to think that an act like that would be okay? Thats really a question that this movie addresses. I think in terms of Alan, you see him at the beginning of the movie and by the middle of the movie, hes lost his whole foundation. Everything that hes basing his life and his future plans on is unraveling before him and he has nothing to do. Then all of a sudden - and I really believe the catalyst is Mrs. Pollard when she says, Take care of Julie, - all of a sudden he has an action.
[Director] Matt Hoge talked to me a lot about a sense of purpose. In act three, Alan really has a sense of purpose, and you dont know what that sense of purpose is until you see the end of the movie, but it all comes to fruition.
How did you develop the relationships in the movie?
JENA MALONE: As far as Im concerned, it was really Matt that formed the foundation for all of us. His script, in a sense - particularly for me and for Chris - is that our stuff wasnt very [defined]. It was kind of in and out in the beginning, middle and the end. It was sort of back and forth, so he really gave us a clear understanding of what had happened before the beginning of the film, what our relationship was, and how Chris came into our lives. I think you can just tell by the interactions between Beckys character and Michelle Williams character and my parents and Chris with me that theres a certain lack of interaction and lack of stimulus, and sort of kind of numbness between the family characters. That was something that we were tossing around. Matt told us that [Chris] coming to this family and where it brought us [to], and how as he came, I [was] sort of edged out. It kind of gave my parents a false foundation like, Whoa, we have a new son, our daughters very happy. Well, our other daughter, shell get it together. But it sort of allowed them to create this false world, in their head, of stability, which is what Chris' character sort of is as the influence in our family. But in creating what was between the two of us, I think it was more just understanding. There was really no interaction in the film between those two characters, but there was a lot of history. Its really just knowing where these people are coming from and understanding the situation for him so he can be truthful in that final interaction, you know, driving home in the car and his catalyst of bringing me home and what that means to me. And just being honest and allowing that to happen on screen.
What made you decide to go with basically a first time writer/director?
JENA MALONE: Some of the most incredible experiences Ive had are with first time directors and writers, people who have actually written scripts and dont have the regular chains of Hollywood tying them down. They want to create something new and theyre very much into their stories because they wrote it as well. Its like its coming from them.
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