The New York Times has today an interview with director Ned Benson, in which he talks about his three movie projects The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him, Her and Them, specially the last one which is the one to be screening in Cannes this week.
Q. What inspired the “different perspective” approach?
A. I had written the “Him” part as a script for a movie just before I met Jessica Chastain and became friendly with her. I told her about it, and she asked me lots of questions about the female character: Why did she do this? What did she feel? I thought about all that, and that there was obviously another perspective on the story I had written. So it was organic in a way; I started writing a second script based on getting that other look at the relationship. It wasn’t as if I had a big concept idea about it first. Afterward I became really excited about it, because I don’t think anything quite like this has been done.
Q. It’s not exactly a commercial idea. How hard was it to raise money and to find distributors?
A. It was very hard to raise money. I was 28 when I started writing “Him” — I am 37 now, so that gives you some idea. But Jessica became well known around the time we were working on the second script, and that helped. There were people who were interested in the idea, but terrified to take the risk. I am an unknown director; who knows if I could make one film, let alone two?
Q. How did you plan the filming of “Him” and “Her”? Did you shoot them separately?
A. We didn’t shoot the films separately, although we were always very clear about which scene was for which film. We did it by character.
The first week I spent with James [McAvoy] and Ciaran Hinds, who plays his dad, and shot their whole story. The second week, we did the stuff that shows the early part of Jessica and James’s relationship. And so on. Some scenes are the same in both movies, but they show either his version of what happened or hers. The actors were amazing because you had to approach those scenes in two ways; first as you see it, and then as the other character is seeing you.
Make sure to visit The New York Times to read the whole interview, it’s very interesting. A version of this special report appears in print on May 14, 2014, in The International New York Times.