“Essentially, it’s great to be able to go to the cinema and watch a movie and know that you’re going to be in for a story where you don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen.”
Interview by Matthew Eeles:
This is Jim Lounsbury’s debut as a feature film director. How does he compare to some of the other directors you’ve worked with in the past?
I think that was one of the things that I really enjoyed about working with Jim. The way that I got a hold of this script was Jim calling me one day and telling me that he was was sending me this script for a thing he was setting up in a couple of weeks that they were shooting for nothing. I read the script and it was one of those things you read and immediately think that it’s something special. I didn’t know Jim really well but we had hung out together at a couple of parties and he’d seen a play that I did in Sydney a couple of years ago called Baby Teeth and we’d always hung out socially. I didn’t read his script for the first two days, then I sat down in a pub courtyard with a beer and started reading it. By the end of it I realised that I didn’t even touch my beer and I was crying in the middle of the courtyard.
The plan was to shoot the film on a minimal crew on nothing then it became what it was. It’s pretty special to watch it happen and that’s all thanks to Jim.
The chemistry between Claire and yourself is nothing short of electrifying in Love is Now. Did you two know each other prior to filming?
Well Claire was actually graduating drama school the year I got to drama school so she was the hot, cool, senior girl on campus when I got to drama school so there was a lot of reverence there. [Laughs]. We became friends within the year of me graduating from drama school so yeah, I’ve spent some time with Claire in LA and she became a really good friend. Coming into a project like this, it’s such an advantage to have a close relationship with someone you’re working with and someone that’s independently right for the role. We got thrown together in some sort of lucky happenstance. It helped us so much with the beginning of the characters’ relationship. It’s interesting because we’re close and we know each other well but as soon as you go into a story like this it’s very different and we still had that nice journey of falling in love with each other through the script which was really fun.
Had you always wanted to work with her at some point?
For sure. Definitely. She’s always been someone who’s such an incredible actress who also has an eye for detail and an eye for complexity in her character. She’s very committed and very hard working but also balances that with her natural ease and talent. That was very clear from the first moment I met her so yeah, I’ve always wanted to work with her.
And not to mention stunningly gorgeous.
Well you know, that helps. She’s definitely not bad on the eye. [Laughs]. She’s one of those people who are annoying because she has it all together. [Laughs].
Your character Dean finds himself in some pretty intense situations during Love is Now. Is that something that attracted you to the role?
Well I think it was a combination of a few different things. First of all what excited me about the script is that it’s obviously Australian, made by Australians but in a sense it didn’t feel like an Australian film because it’s a mysterious sort of love story, a road movie, and at times it’s a bit of a drama and a mystery sort of thriller. It has all these elements in it but it’s never ever pigeonholed and I think Dean, as a character, is really interesting because he’s a photographer who moves from the country to the city and has this dream of becoming an artist. I think Jim has really captured what it is to be young and idealistic and driven and artful and to have a desire and a dream to make something of yourself and to not be afraid to talk about what art is. The whole thing combined has a lot of what we enjoy in movies from overseas that has been put into an Australian context which is really cool.
There’s a unique funding strategy behind Love is Now which is heavily backed by Nikon Australia. Was there ever a moment you were worried you might have signed up for a giant advertisement?
No. No. And that’s simply because Jim’s artistic integrity was always at the forefront. We were making this film to a script that he had written. It’s obviously a new way of doing it in this country but what I found the most interesting and inspiring was that everyone involved signed on because of this script and I think that as an actor and for everyone who signed on, from the art department to the camera department, did it because of the script and I think that that speaks volumes to Jim and his writing. He wrote something that everyone wanted to make. I think that because Jim was very strong in his artistic integrity that I didn’t worry about that for a second.
I was quite surprised how little product placement there actually is in the film. If it was American I could imagine it being littered with Nikon cameras.
You’re right. That’s the interesting thing I guess. It is a model that’s used in the US and it exists there but as far as Australia goes, that model doesn’t really exist here in the mainstream. Our first reactions are usually negative to product placement but I think that it speaks really highly to Nikon that they supported an Australian film and that’s exactly what they did and they didn’t try to make it about anything else. It’s a really cool thing of them to do.
You’re currently treading the boards in the Sydney Theatre Company’s Switzerland. Have you always had an interest in theatre?
Well I started in theatre on the Gold Coast were I did some local theatrical productions. That’s were my first love for it began. Back in the day on the Gold Coast when the Americans were doing a lot of movies there, especially on the Warner Bros. lot I started doing a couple of things there but it all started with theatre and I always wanted to go to drama school and I think that theatre is always something that I like to balance the film work with. You get different things from both. A combination of the two would be ideal.
Sarah Peirse, your Switzerland co-star, is an accomplished actress. Have you learnt much from working with her?
She’s incredible and I’ve been a big fan of her work for a long time. Switzerland is a two-hander and it’s just her and I sort of battling it out for almost two hours. Being able to watch her in rehearsals and onstage every night is a masterclass. She’s a pro and I’ve learnt a lot from her. It’s been a really great experience.
I’ve got no doubt that you’re going to have a very long and successful career in acting. Who’s the one person you’d love to work with most at some stage?
I’ve got a couple but I think Daniel Day Lewis is someone that I’ve always wanted to work with because he’s the guy for me. Hopefully one day.
So is he someone who inspires you as an actor.
Um, Daniel Day Lewis was my formative years of inspiration. I went through a Leonardo DiCaprio phase and a River Phoenix phase but Daniel Day Lewis and Gary Oldman have always been at the top. I just love their craft and think they make interesting choices and they’re both unpredictable. As an actor, if you can incorporate those aspects into your career then you’ll do well.
While I was researching your career I found that your online profile is almost non-existent other than a fan-blog and a very minimal Twitter feed. Do you like to live a private life or is technology something you’d prefer to keep at a distance?
It’s not necessarily a conscious decision it’s just that I’m not that good at social media stuff. [Laughs]. I think my Twitter feed is the most boring feed in the entire Twitterverse. [Laughs].
You said it.
[Laughs]. It’s terrible. Ive got no idea how to do it. [Laughs]. I just think that my skill base does not lie in IT or internet self promotion but it’s something I should maybe work on. I think I’ll stick to what I know.
There’s an almighty twist at the end of Love is Now. Were you told about the twist before you started filming or is that something that was kept secret from the cast and crew until the very end?
It was always in the script and I think as an actor that when you get a script it starts off as a piece of literature but it becomes something else once you’ve read it. The later half of the script really pummelled me in the chest when I read it for the first time and I think that’s what’s great about Jim’s writing. He’s a great storyteller and when you first read it the shock of the story, as a whole, is great even up to the point of when we were shooting a particular scene it still felt to me like it packed the same sort of power and it still resonated just as much as when I read it for the first time. That comes across in the film which I think is one of the great successes of what Jim has created. It’s a beautiful piece of storytelling.
Was it difficult to keep it a secret?
Yeah. It’s hard to talk about the story too much without giving anything away and then that makes you sound really boring because you can’t go into any details. It’s been hard to get across the kind of story that Jim has made without going to far into it. Essentially, it’s great to be able to go to the cinema and watch a movie and know that you’re going to be in for a story where you don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen. It’s a luxury today and I think it’s a really cool luxury.
Love is Now is in cinemas now.