An adaptation of the novel by Aislinn Hunter, Stay was a film ten years in the making. It was a project that so entranced writer/director Wiebke von Carolsfeld that she stuck with it through the years of uncertainty common to smaller budget Canadian projects, juggling the demands that come along with managing a co-production between two countries – Ireland and Canada – and shooting in two vastly different locations.
The character-rich film follows the story of Abby (Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling), a young Canadian woman living in rural Ireland with her much older lover Dermot (Aidan Quinn). After finding out she’s accidentally pregnant and wondering if she’s cut out to be a mother (and whether Dermot will accept becoming a father), Abby embarks on an emotional, self-exploratory journey home to Canada to visit her Dad (Michael Ironside).
Back in the fall at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, we had the chance to speak briefly with both Taylor and Wiebke about their film. They discussed what appealed to them about the project, how the cast came together and ……
Check it out below, and enjoy!
We Got This Covered: What was it about this project that appealed to you?
Wiebke von Carolsfeld: What grabbed me about the novel were those characters. I really enjoyed the characters. They were very complex. I liked the idea that there’s a woman who’s very displaced. She’s not living in the place where she’s from, which is obviously something that I can relate to because I’m German and immigrated to Canada as a young woman. I liked the struggle that she faces to figure out where she fits in but it’s not just her, it’s all five main characters who are struggling to find a place to stay.
Taylor Schilling: I liked the idea of having to really reconcile your past in order to move forward. I liked that she’d been confronted with life just happening to her and all of a sudden life is forcing her to deal with things and ask questions about who she is. She can’t hide any more, she has to be visible and look at her life. Which is really the most amazing thing that you can do for yourself.
WGTC: How did the excellent cast come together?
TS: I had just finished a press tour for The Lucky One and was really excited to do something small and independent. I was looking for a story that I felt was character-driven and that I could be passionate about and Stay came up.
WV: Taylor really responded strongly to the script and we had an hour-long Skype conversation that convinced me she was the one for the role. It worked out beautifully.
WGTC: How did Aidan Quinn come aboard?
WV: Well, Aidan had been attached to the project for years. One of the things that interested me about this story is that it’s about a younger woman and an older man. I’ve found that a lot of women have had that experience but in film it never seems like anyone understands how it actually works. There’s always this gorgeous younger woman and this not-so-gorgeous older man. Why would she go for him? That’s not really how that works. So it was really important to me that I cast someone handsome and appealing so a woman would understand why Abby is going for him. So, an Irishman in his early 50s: it’s Aidan Quinn.
TS: I’m such a fan of Aidan Quinn and I grew up with Desperately Seeking Susan and it was just such a thrill to be able to work with him and explore the story together.
WGTC: The film has a very intimate feel to it. Is that a by-product of the small-scale production process?
TS: Absolutely. I had such an amazing experience making this movie. I really needed it. I really wanted the smaller scale and the intimacy and to be led by someone who just desperately wanted to tell this story. Everything about it was so wonderful. I just really like working with people who are really excited about what they’re doing.
WV: The film is set in two extremely different environments. In Ireland it was really remote. It was the rainiest June in history and it was cold. But the crew was incredibly tight and everyone was very serious yet openhearted about what they were doing. You’re sitting in this abandoned, moldy shell of a cottage and it’s pissing rain and you’re thinking, “why am I putting these people through this?” but no one ever complained. Everybody was always pushing very hard.
And then we moved to Canada for the second part of the shoot and it was sunny and hot and urban. It was in my neighbourhood too so I could walk to work every morning. It was so very different. I think it worked out nicely though.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Taylor and Wiebke for their time. Be sure to catch Stay when it hits theatres this Friday!