INTERVIEW WITH JORDAN ROBERTS:
What did your mother think of the subject of your film?
I decided to make the film about the bad sheep in the marriage, not the good, loyal, devoted mother who raised me. So my moms really been a pretty good sport about it. This is a movie about her ex-husband whos a bad guy.
How did you approach her about this movie?
Well, she knew I was working on it for the longest time. She always encouraged my relationship with him, such as it was. When I say its based on a true story, its based on the fact that I didnt know my dad. He split when I was a kid and appeared on my doorstep a couple of times in my adulthood. But she was one of those wonderful mothers who somehow found it in her heart to never trash the man who was well-worthy of being trashed. He was physically abusive to everybody, including her. She just somehow intuitively understood that trashing a boys father was a bad idea. And Im lucky because a lot of women dont know that. Im not casting any stones. Its got to be hard. Its almost noble what my mothers been able to do, watch me go through this process of making a film about finding some capacity of understanding, loving, accepting, maybe or maybe not forgiving, but accepting and bestowing compassion on this creep.
Did you go through all those emotions while you were writing the script?
Sure, sure. Not so much when I made it, thank God. I think it would have been a really awful experience for everybody if I was processing my emotional feelings during the production. I just think I wouldnt have been able to do what I had to do. And I had the opportunity to do that during the course of writing it, which took a long time. I mean, Ive been writing screenplays for 10 years. Im fast. Very few people write as fast as me. Its not that I needed 10 years to write this film, I just needed 10 years to stop dodging what the films about for me. It was pretty clear from the get-go. I mean, looking back in hindsight, my first draft of this film was about a young woman estranged from her father in South America. As a writer, I can look at that now and go, Okay, well, thats a dodge. Thats a dodge. That was the most egregious of dodges, but not the only dodge, over the course of the many years it took me to tell the truth.
His dying was really probably the most powerful provocation to put on paper exactly how I felt about this absentee guy. And put on paper exactly how he felt about coming back. I got both of them right, ultimately I think.
Did he pass away while you were writing the script or prior to your first draft?
No, no, no. The last draft, the draft that led immediately to production, was written right after my father passed away. And so you had this incredibly protracted development period, which was not being meddled with by anybody but me. I mean there were other producers involved along the way, but I was the guy saying, Its not right yet. Its not right yet, its not right yet. My dad passed away, I went back into the script, and got it right in my opinion. Warner Bros. in the person of Warner Independent Pictures and Mark Gill immediately signed on, all the actors said yes, and we were in production within a few months. Once we finished the script we were psychotically quick. We moved on very quickly.
You were a first time director in charge of a cast that included Michael Caine, Christopher Walken, and Josh Lucas. Was that intimidating?
Definitely. It was more intimidating before I got there, before the first day. But what they all did was they all made it really clear that not only was I welcome at the party, I was the host. These were my characters and more importantly, they were my relationships. That was the thing where they needed me the most. "How are we going to flesh out these relationships?" The characters are pretty clear on the page who they are, and these are wonderful actors and they were going to find that.
To some extent and especially Chris because it was a different character from the characters that hes played mostly what I was there for was to help them conduct the journey in relationship to one another. They didnt allow it to be intimidating for me because they didnt allow me to be intimidated. They didnt allow me to be nervous or shy. They needed me, and it was a great gift. They insisted upon me knocking off my, "Gosh, gee, golly," s**t and just getting on with it.