BEV Chats to Take This Waltz Actor Luke Kirby
Over five years after the release of her award winning feature film debut, Away from Her, writer/director Sarah Polley returns with Take This Waltz. A romantic comedy with a difference, the film explores romance and desire against the backdrop of a long term relationship. Margot (Michelle Williams), a seemingly happily married woman, falls for her neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby). Despite caring deeply for her reliable husband Lou (Seth Rogen), she craves the excitement that Daniel provides. Torn between the two, Margot must choose between the comfort of the old and the thrill of the new.
BEVer Sonia Zadurian chatted with Luke about the demands of the role, working with Sarah Polley, and where he sees the film sitting within the romantic comedy genre.
How did you become involved in the project?
Fairly traditionally, in that I auditioned for the role. The unorthodox thing was that I’d worked with Sarah in the past, so she and I were able to reconnect over breakfast prior to the audition. Every couple of years we’re able to do that. She asked me to audition and it was a painless pursuit. I couldn’t really believe that it was as seamless as it was, but she just asked me to come aboard and thankfully gave me a great deal of time to ready myself. I knew by the beginning of March and we didn’t start shooting until July, so it really gave me a nice chunk of time to get fired up.
Can you tell us a bit about your preparation process and how you approached the character?
The greatest gift that can be given to an actor is time. Especially with film, because so much of the time you’re asked to come very quickly and a lot of the time you have to be on the set within a few days. This was one of those rare opportunities where I was able to mull things through for a good deal of time and allow the story to filter into the psyche and become present in my everyday life. Also, playing a part time rickshaw puller involved a bit of physical training on my part.
How did you go about preparing for how physically demanding the role would be?
I sought professional help. I live in Brooklyn and I had just returned from a long road trip through the southern states and I’d gone through Memphis, Nashville, etc, so I’d really been in deep fried territory. I sought some trainers out and they were able to get me on a bit of a regiment to build up the stamina and befriend my lungs again. They were great. Nearing the end of my time with them, I was working with them twice a day and trying to get as tuned up as I could. I never felt better in my adult life, than I did when I was readying myself for this. I really recommend it. They’re not lying when they say it feels good!
Seth Rogen has said that reading the script was like reading a great novel. What were your first reactions to the script?
It was the kind of thing that I walked away from and couldn’t shake. I kept thinking about how prevalent that was in my life, about people that I knew and that misgiving of wanting excitement, wanting something more, wanting to fill empty spaces and not really knowing how. The dilemma of knowing that you’re constantly trying to fill an insatiable appetite. I was really compelled by that story and I think that’s what haunted me the most. I also became really interested in Daniel; what was motivating him to move forward with someone who under any other circumstances would be off limits and also his degree of confidence.
The film is a refreshing addition to the romantic comedy genre. Where do you see the film sitting within the traditions of the genre?
I kind of feel like maybe it’s a moment in the genre to take a look at itself. It’s almost like it’s a meditation on romance and how we perceive it. It begs the question ‘are all of these perceptions real?’ because it pushes it past the fairytale ending. It confronts the reality that we all know is present in all real life stories. I think it kind of gives it an extra nudge to take a look at itself; it’s a self-reflexive romantic comedy.
Going back to your experiences on set, can you tell us a bit about working under Sarah Polley’s direction?
It was definitely one of the more charmed experiences I’ve had. Sarah was so encouraging, so strong, so confident. She didn’t carry any of her anxieties. A director has so much to contend with on a daily basis, but Sarah never brought that to our circle, to the actors, she was so protective of our space. I just felt that I couldn’t have been in a happier professional situation. Everybody that was there on the crew felt like they wanted and needed to be there. It made for a really great time all round.
In your experience, do you think that Sarah’s background in acting had an effect on her process?
I think that it has to. I definitely felt that in those moments where I knew that she had a great deal on her plate and she wasn’t bringing it to us. I almost felt like she was intuitive about when she was needed and when she was not. Sometimes the best thing a director can do for an actor is stay out of the actor’s way and make them feel like it’s their room to play in and Sarah really knows how to do that. I think it must come from having had the opposite experience and also having great experiences with great directors. I’m sure that her work as an actor has really influenced her as a director. I was just happy to be a part of it.
Can you tell us a bit about any upcoming projects?
I worked on a television series this past summer called Rectify, and it’s going to air on the Sundance channel. I don’t know what it’ll air on in the UK, but I think it’s going to start airing February/March time. It’s a really exciting piece. It’s six episodes about a man who’s released from death row after nineteen years in prison and it deals with his experiences of the release; coming into a brand new world, being given another chance at life, the dilemma that the family has of bringing him back into the home. I play his lawyer who deals with the litigation and the politics of the town. It’s really, really strong writing, written by an actor called Ray McKinnon. It’s really exciting and I felt very lucky to be part of it.
Take This Waltz is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 7 January. Take a look at the trailer here.