Yesterday, I posted my full analysis
of "The Road" (The Weinstein Company, 11/25, trailer
), which I saw earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival. Today, I'm pleased to bring you the audio of several related interviews that I conducted there, as well.
The first -- which runs about 17 minutes, and which you can access by clicking here
-- is with the film's two stars, Academy Award winner Viggo Mortensen
("Eastern Promises") and child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee
("Romulus, My Father"), who is now 13. The second -- clocking in at about 13 minutes, and accessible here
-- is with their director, John Hillcoat
- Mortensen told Hillcoat he'd be happy to read with as many kids as he wanted to test because he, like everyone involved with "The Road," knew that the film's success or failure probably hinged upon the performance of the person cast as The Boy, one of the more demanding parts for a child actor in years. He ended up participating in the auditions of four youngsters: one Canadian, two Americans, and one Australian -- Smit-McPhee. Among the scenes they each had to audition: the film's final scene, which Mortensen aptly calls "brutal."
- Smit-McPhee says that he "didn't know anything" about Mortensen prior to his audition, jokingly adding that "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is "so yesterday."
- Smit-McPhee and a friend from home spent much of their childhoods going to auditions together, and if one didn't get the part the other usually would. They eventually collaborated on an adorable YouTube series about young detectives called "Tiny Town" (clips of which have since been removed from the Web site). Smit-McPhee's "big break" was being cast in the Australian film "Romulus, My Father," for which he won the Australian Film Institute's Young Actor Award in 2007.
- In addition to performing his scenes, Smit-McPhee had to attend school every day during filming.
- Smit-McPhee tells a great anecdote about the scene in which The Boy offers The Old Man food. After multiple attempts, he says, "I just couldn't get it," so Hillcoat said they'd come back to it the next day. Then, on his way home, he was eating some chicken when a wild dog came up to him with "the same blind eye that Robert Duvall had in the movie... asking for food like Duvall was in the movie." He says, "My dad was like, 'Feed it! Feed it! Just do it!' So I fed it, and he said, 'Alright, now you do the same thing tomorrow.'"
- Hillcoat also chimes in on Duvall's scene, and shares a fascinating piece of direction that he gave the veteran actor to help him understand what he was looking for in his performance:think of Boo Radley, the reserved, nearly mute character he began his career by portraying in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962).
- Hillcoat says that the script's vision for the future immediately made him think of today's homeless.
- Hillcoat found the script "refreshing" because apocalyptic films are usually "all about the big event, and all about the spectacle, and there's no real human characters in it -- you know, they're just perfunctory, and they just serve this big rollercoaster ride," whereas in this film we don't even know about the event, which "focused the spotlight straight onto the man and son."
- Mortensen and Hillcoat both address the fact that portions of the film were shot in areas of New Orleans that have yet to be rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. Hillcoat says he also weaved in footage of the smoke plumes that resulted from the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11 because "special effects can't reproduce that."
- During casting preparation for filming, Hillcoat says he sought someone like Henry Fonda in John Ford's "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940), a film that reminded him of "The Road"; referenced Vittorio de Sica's "The Bicycle Thief" (1948); and drew upon the Depression-era photographs of Dorothea Lange.