Films and Plays
Baby Sitting By Viggo Mortensen, The Housewife's Education By Kristen Stewart And Amy Adams
9 September 2010
Day Two of On The Road.
At 0900 the team was on the plantation. Eleven hours later, everyone has disappeared into the night. On the sets of French movies American hours of work have their place in the horror stories and fairy stories. If we don't work well, the team and the actors will work equally long hours as the Hollywood types. Viewed in close-up these long days engender no fear, they impress.
This Wednesday four sequences were filmed of which two amounted to no more than two lines of dialogue in the screenplay of On The Road. In the first Jane Lee (Amy Adams) reads a story to her children Dodie, a little girl of six or seven years,and Ray, who is barely three. Viggo Mortensen, who plays the father of the kids, Old Bull Lee, brought to the set a book of illustrated nursery rhymes, amongst them The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket. It's this book that Amy Adams reads to two blond kids whom the make-up artists have carefully dirtied. When one knows how long it takes for a normal kid to get dirty one can only marvel at the attempt to imitate nature. Read by a mother addicted to Benzedrine, the nursery rhyme becomes a collage of intoxicating, menacing words.
On the verandah the actors gently stew. But the temperature there remains cool compared to the little kitchen of the old house. There the three women of the production, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams and Elisabeth Moss are holding a secret conference. The two latter-named scrub the floor vigorously whilst Mary Lou (Kristen Stewart) washes Dodie's hair. These domestic tasks precede a course of education in love which the two women-of-the-world - Mary-Lou and Jane - will be giving to Galatea (Elisabeth Moss). Fans of Mad Men will know already that there is a strong connection between the young actress and the innocence (or abstinence) of the America of Truman and Eisenhower. When she receives the erotic awakening from the two goddesses of free love, her expression is, by turns, astonished and dreamy.
As the night falls it becomes Viggo Mortensen's turn to be the babysitter. The scene requires that he play with little Ray whilst Mary Lou views the inscriptions on the wall at the gate to the plantation. There are only two lines: the girl is discomforted by a particularly ugly picture (a group of canvases also came from the collections of Viggo Mortensen) to which Old Bull Lee responds that it is there precisely because it is ugly. But this exchange, repeated again and again, without the camera stopping, is now incorporated into an improvised dialogue between Viggo Mortensen and the young boy. In an earlier take, Viggo Mortensen cajoles the child with a gentle voice, suggesting they draw monsters. Once the mini-actor is confident, Viggo Mortensen adopts the hoarse voice and accent of Old Bull Lee which is strangely similar to that of William S Burroughs. He sets to, proposing drawings of vampires and insects to a captivated young Ray, ignorant of the bizarre nature of the solution.
Last edited: 11 August 2011 08:47:44