09.04.14

NY Times Movies has published this video, in which writer and director Ned Benson narrates a sequence from “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them.” It also has an extensive article/interview with Ned about the film since its early steps. Read some excerpts below, and head over to NY Times to read the full interview:

“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” began, Mr. Benson said, in 2005 with a screenplay for the film now known as “Him.” But when he showed that first script to Ms. Chastain, hoping she would want to play the title character, she was full of questions — and doubts.

“I wasn’t very interested in playing her in that incarnation,” she said. “Because it did feel to me that she was a product of his story, that she wasn’t a real person.

“As an audience member and an actress, I’m interested in women’s stories, too, and what they go through,” she continued. “I see this a lot in scripts: The female character is the puppet or prop of the male character. But I’ve always tried to look for characters that have their own arcs, that are flesh-and-blood human beings.”

Prodded by Ms. Chastain’s questions about who Eleanor really was, Mr. Benson set to work fleshing out the character, and then, he recalled, almost imperceptibly “it became ‘Why don’t I just write a script?’ ” because “ ‘Well, what better way to explore a relationship than both completely subjective sides?’ ”

Mr. Benson and Ms. Chastain were by that time a couple. So he was with her on the set of Terrence Malick’s 2011 film, “Tree of Life,” a breakthrough role for her, and also accompanied her to Paris, all the while revising and polishing the script, with her input.

As Ms. Chastain’s career continued its vertiginous ascent, she used her growing prestige to help recruit a supporting cast that has won Oscars, Tonys, Césars and various other awards. Isabelle Huppert and William Hurt play her character’s parents, Ciaran Hinds plays her father-in-law, and Viola Davis, with whom Ms. Chastain appeared in “The Help,” plays Professor Friedman, who sort of befriends Eleanor when she enrolls in her “identity theory” course.

“It was the red hair, the red-haired family,” Ms. Huppert said jokingly in an interview last month in New York, where she was appearing in a play. “No, she’s been declaring her admiration for my work for quite some time, and she’s a wonderful young actress and person, so I did it mainly for that.”