Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Robert Redford Plays an Unnamed Man in JC Chandor’s All Is Lost

I just saw the movie All Is Lost starring Robert Redford and was really impressed by this movie. You can read my review here. Below is a Q & A with the esteemed actor about his compelling role.

Press Release:

Q. You choose your projects very carefully. What appealed to you about ALL IS LOST?

A. I saw it as an opportunity to do something I was longing to do, which was to have a complete experience as an actor and not think about anything else. It was to be a bold and pure cinematic experience without special effects, hardly any dialogue and a lot of challenges.

Q. Due to the lack of dialogue, the script was quite short. What did you think about the script when you first read it?

A. As soon as I read the script I knew I was in good hands because it was so carefully woven.

Q. Were you interested in sailing before getting involved in this film?

A. I grew up in Los Angeles close to the water; so, I surfed and swam and had a mild interest in sailing, but I was never in the deep sea alone. I had sailed to Catalina Island and in various other places in California, Canada and even off the coast of Mombasa, but it was always in somebody else’s boat, never by myself or in a storm. So I was familiar with water, but not like this. ALL IS LOST was a whole new experience for me.

Q. How was it to work with filmmaker J. C. Chandor?

A. I felt very comfortable in his hands. And, like my character in the movie, I was also learning on the job. 

Q. What are the lessons your character is forced to learn during the course of the story?

A. Well, when things go beyond my character’s ability to cope with them he has to figure things out in the moment and improvise. So, in that way I felt connected to him.

Q. We don’t know your character’s name or much about him…

A. One of the things I loved about this film was precisely that we had little information about my character.  J. C. wrote a film that he understood completely. Due to his experience, he also knew enough about sailing to create details in the story that would have their own dramatic value. I enjoyed the fact that it didn’t have much information or dialogue because it created a challenge for me as an actor to be more fully inside the character.

Q. What is it about ALL IS LOST that makes it different than other films? 

A. Well, if you go to the movies you can see that most of them are full of action and special effects but this was more pure. And the fact that there wasn’t too much said allowed the opportunity for the actor to provide his own sense to the character and for the audience to come more into the picture with him.

Q. What did you think of ALL IS LOST when you finally saw it completed?

A. I saw it at the Cannes Film Festival and thought: “Wow!” I mean, people could have booed it because it was so open; but they didn’t.

Q. What moments did you especially enjoy in the movie?

A. There were a couple of moments I especially liked when you could allow the audience to imagine how my character felt, which were when he wasn’t fighting something or taking care of business. In those moments of peace he would just look out and contemplate what was there. 

Q. What could he see in those moments?

A. He could see a vast expansion of nothing but space. And then what was underneath him on that small boat was just miles and miles of deep water.

Q. What do you think the cinematographic storytelling reason was for those shots?

A. To make the audience feel a sense of aloneness. I can’t imagine how you can feel more alone than that! You don’t have ground under your feet to walk on or a tree to climb. I just thought that feeling was a very powerful element in the film that you hoped the audience would capture.

Q. What back-story did you imagine for your character?

A. I didn’t imagine anything more than what was there. At the beginning of the movie, when my character says that he is sorry and that he tried, it allows us to imagine that there is a family involved and that he isn’t a horrible person, but also that he failed at something. So, maybe this journey that he is on is his way to complete himself and find out if he can do something. That’s all I had, and it was enough for me because I didn’t want to go outside that too much.

One of the things I like about ALL IS LOST is that it lets the audience have their own interpretation instead of telling them how they are supposed to feel.

Q. Can you talk about the relevance of the title of the movie?

A. This film satisfied a lot of things for me, but one of them was that it was about something I am interested in, which is at what point, when things are really awful and all is lost, some people quit and others keep going. 

Q. So, why do you believe your character keeps going on?

A. Because there is only continuing for him and nothing else for him to do. So, he keeps going because he can.

Q. You worked on another film years ago about a man who is also pushed to the limit and keeps going on, JEREMIAH JOHNSON. What are the similarities you see between them?

A. What these two films have in common is that they are about a character who encounters such hardship that it seems like it’s all impossible and he just can’t go any further. He is alone, either in water or on land, and one obstacle after another just keeps coming, each one greater than the last one.

Q. J. C. Chandor’s previous movie, MARGIN CALL, was very different than ALL IS LOST. 

A. That was one of the things that impressed me about him! MARGIN CALL was about a bunch of people in a room talking about money, and this was so different and completely away from that. It made me feel like he was a guy I’d be happy to trust just as an actor.

Q. How was the physical aspect of spending all those hours on and under the water during the shoot?

A. It was very hard! I was okay in the water because I like to swim, but to be wet all the time all day long did wear me out physically. That was the toughest part of the shoot for me. 

All Is Lost starts showing on February 5, 2014 at SM Cinemas and is released by Solar UIP Philippines.

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