Set in North Carolina and starring Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, Amy Adams, and Celia Weston, "Junebug" examines the relationship between a son who left his small town life to start over in Chicago, the family he left behind, and his new bride - a British-born art dealer.
INTERVIEW WITH PHIL MORRISON:
So much of what makes up these characters isnt on the screen. Did you provide the actors with detailed backstories or did they create them for themselves?
We did it together. I didnt impose a backstory on them, but I spent time with all of the actors. I got to spend more time with Amy Adams than anybody else, but I did get to spend time with everybody. And depending on what the actor wanted, I just let them ask questions. If they didnt want to explore that with me, then that was fine. But if they did, then we talked about it.
To me, I just sort of suggested what I thought. But I really wanted the movie to be like I called it a conversation before. I wanted it to be more a reflection or a confluence of perspectives, of all of us working on it rather than an assertion of my perspective. Or of Angus [MacLachlans], the writer.
Were you surprised by the way any of your actors interpreted the material?
You know what? In a way, I demanded to be surprised. That was maybe the one thing that I demanded because to me a good, lets just boil it down to this one take thing: Like, a good take that made me think like, Ok, we can move on, would be one that was complete inside. Just like trying to watch the monitor the way I would watch it if I was in the audience watching the movie. One that felt emotionally authentic to me that I really believe but also was surprising - and also was surprising to me.
In order to avoid that thing of thinking that a good take was the one where the person [achieved] my preconceived notion of what it should be. Like, Oh, they did it the way I always heard it in my head. Okay, thats a good one then. Because then all it becomes is that the movie becomes a reflection of one persons pre-conceived notion: mine. But rather, if they did something that felt right to me but was nothing I might have imagined, that was a good one. Trying to inspire the actors to get to that place was what I felt like was my job. So yeah, they constantly surprised me. I demanded nothing less than to be surprised.
How did you balance the time spent on each character without diminishing any of them?
This isnt entirely answering your question exactly, but I guess what I would say is that this is not a movie where we felt like the purpose was to prove every aspect of every character. The movie takes place in three days, so we wanted to kind of be honest with ourselves about what the scope of a person. How much of a person could we really experience within that three days? And I really think that its about significant but small steps that the characters take.
If youre making something, there is a natural tendency to sort of want to show that kind of rule - like with the characters, we must see that the characters really change. Well I think thats legitimate, but I think you can be pursuing that for its own sake to an extent that becomes false. So we just really wanted to be honest with ourselves about how we believed these characters might respond to these situations, and just trust that that had meaning. And so therefore, it wasnt like taking every single character and having their big moment, their epiphany, but being a little more, I dont know, modest about it.