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Director Paul Weitz encouraged a wholly collaborative approach with his actors so they could all learn more in concert in preparation for the drama ‘Being Flynn’, in cinemas around the US on March 2. Paul Dano, who plays Nick Flynn remarks, “From the first time we talked, when I didn’t yet have the part, Paul was receptive to any input or ideas.
He had an answer for every question, and at the same time would be really open, which is something that I always look for in a director. He let me play around, but he also knew what he specifically wanted.”
“I would ask for direction on every single take, because he works so viscerally,” adds Olivia Thirlby, who welcomed the opportunity to create a character since “Denise doesn’t exist in the book; unlike the other characters, she’s a mostly fictitious one created for the screenplay, so I was able to color things in on my own and work with Paul Weitz to figure her out.
She has an unchecked directness that can result in some awkwardly funny exchanges with people; she has been through past trauma and is now on the healing path.” Nick Flynn, the author of the memoir behind the film, notes, “Denise protects herself and is tough on the Nick character, not putting up with his bulls–t, but is also warm and comforting.” On the set, Thirlby would find her regular scene partner Dano “never false; there’s always truth in what he does.
There are so many avenues that you can take at any given moment in any given scene, and it seems like he’s always choosing a different one. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him.” Nick says, “Olivia Thirlby and Paul Dano do have a natural chemistry between them, but Denise doesn’t stand in for a specific girlfriend I had.”
Lili Taylor’s character of Joy, by contrast, is “based on someone I knew at the shelter,” admits Nick. “Lili was one of my favorite actresses even before she became my wife; she can show just a little glimmer of the depth that’s in Joy, and it all comes across.” Taylor muses, “One of the themes of this story is that the lack of self-pity is a virtue. You see that with Joy.”
Even though Being Flynn focuses on Nick’s life as it intersects with his estranged father Jonathan’s, his relationship with his mother while growing up was kept central to the film by Weitz; as in Nick’s memoir, Jody epitomizes the goodness in an otherwise tumultuous life. Yet the mother/son relationship is not without its own emotional land mines, as Jody was gone too soon and by her own hand.
Nearly all of Julianne Moore’s scenes pair her with actor Liam Broggy, who portrays Nick as a pre-teen. She comments, “The bond between a child and a single mother is a tight one. Paul Weitz captures the intimacy of that, getting a dynamic between Liam and I for our scenes together.”
Nick says, “My relationship with my mother is the central wound of the film, and of my life. The most difficult part of the movie for me was watching the scenes with Julianne and Liam in a re-creation of my childhood home. “I view my mother as a good person who suffered. On the set I couldn’t even look at Julianne at first, except on a monitor.
Finally, around noon, I was able to speak to Julianne, who was happy to talk with me. Then the next day, I went through it all again and so I left the set early. But I had to try to normalize that for myself so I would be able to watch the movie.” As Moore sees it, “My character in the film is often in her scenes as just a memory. It’s all very much a young person’s memory of what happened, or what might have happened.
“Nick’s primary memories of Jody are how she was present as a parent, whereas his father was not. Jody was the one who was always there, the one he would talk to, the one who cared for him and who encouraged him. He worries sometimes that he might have triggered something in his mother which led to her act.”
Taylor feels that “Nick’s story is very inspiring, because it’s about how you come through things, with curiosity and generosity. You fall apart but then you become whole.”
Image Courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/BeingFlynn