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Carter Roy - "Neil"
Neil is somebody who knows what he wants out of life, he is one of those rare people who you find today, who likes his job, likes where he lives, likes who he is with and isn't particularly looking for his routine to change, he enjoys his life very much and if anything is looking to make his life more solid. As Abbey goes through her transformation or psychological breakdown it sends a ripple through the whole foundation of his life because she pretty much is at the core of who he is now. Her digression throws his whole life out of balance and breaks down everything he ever thought. When things start happening to Abbey it's outside his world, outside of what he's dealt with before or knows how to deal with and it throws him for a loop to say the least.
For one, working with Kris (Kristensen) and Brian (McDonald), because I knew their work from before and as an actor it's always fun to find someone to work with that you already have a preexisting trust with. Because it's such an important part of trying to get your best performance - having somebody you trust, who knows how to guide you, who wants to guide you, who you feel comfortable opening up your suggestions to. It's a really hard thing to build that especially quickly on a film, because sometimes you are meeting right at the time of the shoot. So a chance to work with them again.
Neil's a nice character, because he is a character role, he's just trying to keep the world the same way, he's trying to keep the world the way he see's it, the way it is. He's fighting against the film instead of trying to propel it. In large part because of the way the role is structured Neil is such a reactive character, and I've really enjoyed that. It's nice because but when you go into the film as a lead character at each plot turn at each sort or twist you know it's because of something to do with your character, but with a role like Neil you can settle into who the character is and let the film come to you.
It's fun to play somebody like that, particularly having lived is Seattle, and been "like wow" one whole option of life would be to stay here and hang out and really enjoy life and not pursue ambition as much. To get to play somebody like that to essentially play out that fantasy was a great idea, a great opportunity.
The thing that comes out when you have a good trust with a director is that there is no sort of subtext in the communication between the actor and director. It allows for honesty, the best part is knowing Kris could be honest with me. If there are things he didn't like he could just tell me he didn't like them and we could laugh about it. It allowed for looseness on the set, which was great, you really feel like it's a team effort. I'd go do something and if people didn't like it we could all laugh and say "wow that didn't work" lets go do something else. It was so easy to go to Kris and say here is a question I have, how are we going to deal with this. We were like two people on the same team working on the same project and it's just a great way to work.
I have to believe it has something to do with the independent nature of this film. It leads to this intangible quality where you have people coming together and putting so much into the film. That it creates that totally family feel were everyone feels like they are all in it together. The are all working on this big thing and that group communal sense of sacrifice and working together is such a cool bond.
Working with the other actors was great. Sometimes I fear sounding cheesy but you understand what magic is about with what happened with Jen (Taylor) and I. We where able to find a chemistry together that naturally translated into the roles. We found the bond of two people that have been in love for a long time and it's a hard thing to replicate or get at. We were able to create that in part because we've known each other but also because we had a common language. Once we created that there is trust that you get that makes working in the scenes together so much fun. You really feel like your in your own world, everything just falls away and your just doing your own thing, it was a real treat.
Rather than thinking about the plot I'd say it's a movie about testing the boundaries of love. Abbey's character and how she deals with Mrs. Baker in life and after. Abbey obviously loved this character and in her attempt to deal with her death and whatever Mrs. Baker is actively or not actively doing is a troubling place in Abbey's heart. She doesn't know how to draw that boundary of love in a sense. She allowed Mrs. Baker too much access to her heart and whether Mrs. Baker is actually coming back or Abbey is losing it that's what in a sense it's about. From Neil's point of view you have similar sort of thing where he has the love of his girlfriend but it's being tested by something beyond his control and beyond his power of conception. It's sort of story about how life tests these boundaries of love and then it's up to us to find how far we can go to respond to that.
It's really easy to get into a groove when you're on the set everyday but with Neil I wasn't working everyday. If you go two days and then stop for two or three days you are forced to get back into your life. It just requires a lot more work when you come back to the set to refocus. So that was a big thing for me to learn that. You just jump right back in.
One of the best parts was working with Jen; we had such a fun time together. In between takes we just keep a nice energy and chemistry going which can be a hard thing as an actor on a film set. It can be challenging during all the lighting changes and things to keep that energy. It seemed like we were able to sink into our world and stay there all day, which makes it so much easier, you're not switching back and forth, it was such a joy working with her.
Also the sense of family on the set especially with cast and crew was great. Because often times cast and crew don't have a strong relationship. They don't always talk much or hang out much. It's not a bad thing it's just they have such different roles. But in this film, there was less differentiation between people's parts. There was a real sense of everyone being on the same team. At mealtime everyone would hang out together. I really like that and I think that is the way a movie is done best because everybody's roll is so critical. Everyone's job really does matter especially on a film set. It was a really lasting memory for me how great it was to be on this team with everyone. They were such great people on the crew and in the cast. It was such a great thing to be around.
I think I have a particular love for film, because growing up that's what I was more exposed to when I was a kid. When I'm in a movie theater, and the lights go out, it's one of my favorite moments in all of life, that anticipation that the screen is about to light up.
This interview was conducted by Marcus Donner.