The Two Faces of January press conference with director and stars Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oliver Isaacs
Promoting the release of The Two Faces of January we caught up with writer and director Hossein Amini and lead actors Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac as they discussed what drew them to the project and the nuances of their characters.
What was it that got under your skin about these characters?
Hossein Amini: I have always loved crime thrillers and loved how Highsmith’s novel was essentially about ordinary characters thrown into a world of crime. The Two Faces of January was a book that I always loved since I was at university.
Kirsten Dunst: I was so impressed when I first read the script, it was one of the best I’d read in a long time. I think originally Hoss wanted someone a bit younger than me but I think the most important thing was creating a real dynamic: Collette truly loves Chester.
Viggo Mortensen: We were very careful to get the characters right and had meetings before filming where we talked about our relationships and how far to go with each one. Hoss changed certain things, which made it much easier when filming. I loved how everything was subtle – like the music and tone – this meant you got to see more of the characters. It was a very delicate thing and it was good to talk as much as possible.
Oscar Isaac: Hoss was always interested in going over the script so we got to ask questions – this was how we were able to create so many nuances because we got to play together.
Did you get to explore the landscapes much?
OI: I just remember getting sick of shellfish! Really sick. There were four locations altogether and the thing I remember most was the riots in Greece! We’d finish filming and then go and see where the tear gas was coming from.
What did you make of the relationship between Chester and Rydal? Do they acknowledge that their relationship echoes a father and son dynamic?
VM: I’m not sure what they thought of their relationship exactly – the characters always surprise you because they’re inconsistent in their nature. Highsmith had real trouble getting it published; apparently she was told you can have two neurotic characters in a novel but not three!
Was the shift from writing to directing an easy one?
HA: I never thought I’d have a job at all at university! Highsmith’s book was something that I wanted to create for more than 20 years so this really is a labour of love. The work becomes the most important thing though, and this project only happened because of the actors.
The film has its own retro style throughout. Was it hard to get the funding?
HA: The film definitely needed to maintain that illusion of the 60s and that style, I think it was why it took 20 years to get the project moving. The landscapes are epic but the story is relatively small since it’s just about three characters. This was done intentionally to let the story sparkle.
Viggo, after Lord Of The Rings you must have had your pick of roles. What makes you stick to smaller, more personal movies? Is it true you were offered a part in Man of Steel?
VM: It’s not a conscious decision I make, I just make sure I look for good stories, movies that you will look forward to seeing in five or ten years’ time. I was offered a part in the Superman movie but I couldn’t do it because of time. It would have been great to have been in it though.
Kirsten your character does have some traits of the classic Hitchcock blonde. Would you like to have been directed by him?
KD: Well I’ve heard he was a real piece of work but then I’ve worked with some directors who were real pieces of work! But this film definitely has that Hitchcockian feel to it.
Oscar how does it feel to be cast in the new Star Wars?
OI: We start at the end of this month and I’m very excited, it’s a dream come true. I collected the toys since I was a kid and even had Star Wars parties! My family had a nerdgasm when they found out.
The Two Faces of January is released nationwide on 16th May 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Two Faces of January here: