The Voices premiere: Reynolds and Satrapti talk groundbreaking new film on the red carpet
Jerry Hickfang is an ordinary worker earning his living in a toilet factory. A date with a co-worker ends brutally when Hickfang kills her after hitting a deer with his car: all due to him failing to taking the pills for his mental disorder. In the aftermath Hickfang converses with his pets – his dog, the good one, and the evil cat that tries to talk him into hiding the body instead of turning himself in to the police.
The Voices is a genre-breaking film from award-winning director Marjane Satrapi, with her beginnings in animation and the critically-acclaimed Persepokis. For London’s Sundance Film Festival she returns with this comedy thriller. The Upcoming spoke with Satrapi and lead actor Ryan Reynolds on the red carpet:
Ryan, when you were thinking about taking the role, you hadn’t done anything like it before. Was the unknown factor part of the allure or did you always know that you were capable of this sort of performance?
RR: Movies like this are experimental: they are on the blacklist in Hollywood and you know that no one is ever going to make them. They are no risk, because you go in and you swing for the fence and you do everything you can, there’s nothing on the table. The worst case scenario is that no one is ever going to see it and the best case scenario is that it is something that is groundbreaking. I think we have done the latter here; this movie is genre-bending in every way, shape and from. It is a visual like nothing I have ever seen. The first time I saw the movie I was blown away.
You’re working with Marjane who is from a predominantly animation-based background. How did working with her and her vision influence you as an actor? Has your process changed?
RR: No, every director is different! It is the director’s medium: the worst thing is a director who doesn’t really have an opinion or a take. That is when you know you are f*cked. She’s opinionated and has as many ideas as anyone I have ever met. This medium is exclusively made for them – if you don’t have a strong director you don’t have a strong film. I knew from previous work that she would be fantastic, and I had no idea that the result would be this good.
So you are playing the lead character but you are also lending your voice to so many other characters. How did you prepare for that?
RR: I don’t know, I didn’t really prepare.! You know, they were trying to cast the cat and the dog and they couldn’t really find the right person and I just thought: “Well, I can do that!” So I grabbed my iPhone and I recorded myself doing a scene between Jerry, the dog and the cat. I kind of seamlessly jumped back and forth between each character.
Marjane, this is your fourth film now. What lessons from the previous three have you utilised in this one?
MS: The reason I’m so interested in films is that it is a very complicated thing to do: you have to think about so many things, and that makes it extremely complex. And of course I have a goal you know, to make the perfect movie. Some people like Orson Welles can make it from the fresh: Citizen Kane is a masterpiece. This goal is like a star in the night, you just know in which direction to go. I feel like I do, I have more experience, I know how to better myself. But I will never know how to do perfectly. I’m sure in my life I will not know how to make the perfect movie – but each experience leads you to make something better the next time.
How do you think this film is different from your earlier work?
MS: My earlier work has a lot to do with my memories, with my stories, with what I have left. And you know, after a while you have one, you have two, you have everything booked, etc and you want to move on. I never thought I would be able to film the story of somebody else. It was extremely challenging for me, and at the same time I wanted to know how that works. The experience was great: the writer was great because we could collaborate together. In a way I enjoyed it more, because this is not what I wrote. I could really concentrate everything on my directing. So it was very good for that.
Photos: Tim Whitby
The Voices premiered at Sundance London on 26th April 2014.