Photo Courtesy of movieposterdatabase.com The film switches between protagonists, keeping audiences on their toes.
In an exclusive press conference with The Ram for the newly released Place Beyond the Pines, director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) and stars Ryan Gosling (The Notebook) and Eva Mendes (The Other Guys) discussed location, casting and the genius of the film’s director.
Place Beyond The Pines is a film with three parts. The first revolves around Gosling’s character, Luke, a motorcycle stunt man who discovers he has a son and decides to rob a string of banks in Schenectady, N.Y. to provide for him, as well as his former flame Romina (Mendes). The second part centers on Police Officer Avery (Cooper) and how he uncovers corruption in the local police department. The third is about their sons and how they interact with each other. Cianfrance said that the town was a key element to the film, “It was sort of an American town that had seen a brighter day. The movie is all about legacy and Schenectady has that.”
Cianfrance had some personal connection to the New York town as well, “My wife’s family lives there, and every time I went up there I felt like I was on a scouting trip, like ‘that would be a good bank to rob,’” Cianfrance said.
The casting of the complex roles was naturally a crucial aspect of the movie as well. Gosling had been cast in the movie since he worked on Blue Valentine with Cianfrance and was drawn to the character of Luke. Gosling said that Luke was a character who looks like a tough guy with tons of tattoos and a ripped body, but “all of those things don’t make you a man. At the center of it, there is really nothing.”
Gosling’s character is a stunt man, and although he didn’t do all of the stunts, he said, “I’m from the Canadian equivalent [of Synecdoche]. I just spent a month riding around there and learning.”
Mendes said that ever since she saw Blue Valentine she was dying to be in a Cianfrance film. “I said that I would even be an extra in his next film, just walk in the back. He’s a real risk taker,” Mendes said. When the two met, instead of asking her to audition, Cianfrance suggested she show him where she grew up. Mendes was raised in a “very lower middle class household,” she said, “I could have easily have ended up like Romina.” Cianfrance gave her the role on the spot.
Although Mendes connected with Romina, Cianfrance suggested that she work at a local diner in Schenectady when the team was not filming. Mendes said, “I really got to know the women and their stories. It had a really ghost town vibe about it.”
She also laughed when speaking about trying to reduce the salt on customer’s French fries to make them healthier, getting yelled at numerous times. Mendes said, “It was nice because people weren’t like ‘That’s an actress trying to be normal’ because they didn’t know me. I was treated like a waitress.”
Other actors relied heavily on real-life experience to get into character as well. For example, Cianfrance explained that on-screen married couple Cooper and Rose Byrne (28 Weeks Later) spent a week playing house and actually living in their on-screen home. The two young actors who play the sons of Gosling and Cooper, Dane DeHaan (Lincoln) and Emory Cohen (“Smash”) hung out 24/7 for a week to develop their on-screen frenemy relationship.
Each question to the actors trickled back to the genius of director Cianfrance and his unique style of directing. Mendes stated, “Derek would say, ‘Go. Fail.’ I was like, yeah…cool. It took a lot of the pressure off. I had never really thought it about that way before. Most of the time directors say, ‘Go. Perform. Deliver.’ It is frightening.”
Along with encouraging his actors, Cianfrance encourages the weather. He only stopped filming for one day when Hurricane Irene hit because he said, “I believe in embracing the weather. It will ruin the scene in a great way. I love when things go wrong.”
Cianfrance was also applauded by the actors for his directed use of violence in the film, not needless gore. Cianfrance said, “I respond against violence. It needs structure and chemistry. I didn’t want to make the violence in the film in the cool-fetish way that it is in many films. It needs to affect you.”