Ryan, your face gets beaten to hell in this film, to the point where you’re almost unrecognizable. Apart from everything else, was that something that appealed to you, getting to play against the handsome guy image by getting banged up like that?
Ryan Gosling: That wasn’t part of the film initially. When you work chronologically, it was just something that seemed like it needed to happen. Also, being trained by these stunt coordinators, they’re like the best of the best and it felt foolish to then turn around and be beating them in a fight. So it just seemed to make sense that I lose. But again, when you work with Nic, it’s something that you discover along the way.
Ryan, Nicolas, can you talk about what makes your relationship different from the typical actor/director relationships out there? And how does that show up in the film?
Nicolas Winding Refn: That’s a very private question. [laughs] The process of creating is a very delicate concept. And when it clicks, it’s great. There are other people who I’ve worked with that I enjoy working with a lot, but when there’s a similarity between certain things it kind of becomes easier. And that’s how it is with Ryan. We work well together and I enjoy his company. It’s a lot about trust too, in terms of the professional collaboration. Trusting each other and seeing where that can go. It’s like, I’ve only had one girlfriend so I don’t know what else there is.
Ryan Gosling: There’s got to be a better way to describe that. [laughs]
Can you talk a bit more about working in chronological order and how that experience is?
Yaya-Ying: It’s all about getting into character, I think. This is actually my first film ever but everyone here has taught me a lot. It’s been an honor to work with all of them.
Vithaya Pansringarm: As the story moves on, things happen and you react according to the situation. I feel like if we jumped around with the story, we would never get that pure feeling. You wouldn’t get those same reactions.
Kristin Scott Thomas: It’s very rare to shoot like that. It’s a huge luxury really to not have to leap back and forth. It makes things easier as an actor, at least technically, because you can keep track of what you’ve done and what you haven’t done. When you’re on a long shoot and it’s not going chronologically, you have to kind of keep tabs on how you played certain things. The chronological order also makes everything easier to change and we changed so much. We made changes to Crystal and had things happen to her that I was totally unprepared for.
Ryan Gosling: It’s like Kristin said, we changed the exit for her character. One day Nic was just like “I think she should die” and then he’s like “what do you want to do when you see your dead mother?” And as kind of a joke I was like, “well, maybe I can cut her open and look at her womb.” And he was like, “ok, cool, let’s do that.” [laughs] So he called the effects guy and we got a pig’s stomach from the butcher and that’s what we did.
Was that because of the incest between the two characters, that you wanted to go back to the womb?
Ryan Gosling: [laughs] I honestly can’t speak for what I was thinking then. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time.
Kristin Scott Thomas: I think it’s open to interpretation. You can see it as reclaiming where you came from and reclaiming your identity. Other people may see it as a completely sexual thing.
Nicolas Winding Refn: It goes back to a very old theory that in order to be re-born, you have to return to your origin. The concept of transformation is something that I find intriguing, especially in dramatic ways. Then of course you can also get into the whole concept of the fear that men have about their mother’s sexuality and at the same time there’s also something very erotic about it. Books have been written about the idea of what it would be like to have sex with your mother. So you know, it kind of goes on from there.
As for the chronological thing, I did it on my first movie because my mother had given me a book about John Cassavetes and in the book it talked about how he shot his films in chronological order so I was like “oh, maybe I’ll do that too.”
With Nicolas being so collaborative, was their anything that the actors suggested that Nicolas had to respectfully decline?
Ryan Gosling: I wanted a British accent. That was shot down.
Kristin Scott Thomas: One of the great things about working on this particular project with this particular director is that I certainly felt free to suggest anything outrageous and know that no one was going to gasp and giggle or no one was going to look at me disapprovingly. It was going to be taken seriously as a proposition, and not as a judgement of my own character. That’s very rare and very exciting actually.
Ryan Gosling: Oh, and Vithaya and I wished we could have done less fight scenes but we got turned down on that. [laughs]
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