Roundtable Interview With Jack Reynor And Lenny Abrahamson On What Richard Did

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The scenes felt authentic, and seemed as though we were eavesdropping on their conversations. Did you deviate from the script at all?

Jack Reynor: We did. In order to make those scenes feel as natural as possible, we knew that to some extent, we were going to have to improvise, but in a very controlled setting. So we had these conversation topics that we would run through. Me and the lads would have a topic and go straight into it. We knew we had to pass the ball really fast. That’s why those scenes come across as really natural. That was great, because improv could become really messy.

Lenny Abrahamson: What happens with improv generally, and you see it a lot in films, when it’s “Off you go,” people run to the immediate safe areas, like conflict or ridicule. So in order for improv to work, you really have to know what the scene’s supposed to be.

It has to be rehearsed, which sounds like a contradiction. But you can do improv if you have these link ideas, and know how to get from here to here, but we don’t specify what the words are.

What do you think of the bullying issues presented in the film, and the teens feeling as though they can take on the liberties of ridicule?

Lenny Abrahamson: I actually think they’re a pretty good bunch. I guess it happens all over the world, where young men get into fights outside of bars and clubs and restaurants, especially when there’s alcohol involved. So we tried to make it very real, and normalize it by making it about something small, and not build up those intense, dramatic conflicts.

Jack Reynor: He’s never in a position where he’s bullying Conor, per sey.

Lenny Abrahamson: We were talking about this earlier on that we did have this piece of improv that didn’t make it into the film. They were in a car, talking about a boy Richard protected in school

Jack Reynor: He’s just about harmony and what’s right. That’s his sense of himself. The most important thing is that he’s just a really good guy.

The interesting part of this character is that he’s under a tremendous amount of pressure. What attracted me to the character was the fact that he’s in the middle of the group. We’re so used to seeing the kid on the outside, or the bad guy. So what’s it like to be the guy that everybody loves, and what’s it like to be under that pressure?

What’s it like to also love your father desperately, but also know he’s a fragile character? You want it to be good for him.

There’s also that moment when in the group of all males, everything’s fine, but then it turns to jealousy. Can you talk about that?

Jack Reynor: That’s something that’s huge at home with the lads. I’ve seen that so many times, in terms of fights at rugby matches. You get all these guys together, and somebody starts a fight. Since there are so many kids, they all fight. It’s like, all the upper-middle class families never got into a fight in their lives, but once it kicks off, everyone jumps in for the lad.

We’re not going to stop, because don’t know when to stop. There’s all this testosterone, because it’s an all-boy school. So can you image, 30 guys sitting in a room together, all day, and a fight breaks out?

That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank Jack Reynor and Lenny Abrahamson for taking the time to speak with us. What Richard Did opens in select theaters this Friday, May 10, 2013, and is now available on DVD and On Demand.

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