The Knockturnal was on the scene for the star-studded New York Film Festival premiere of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut “The Lost Daughter” at Alice Tully Hall this week.
Director/Producer/Writer Maggie Gyllenhaal was joined by cast Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Domińczyk, Ed Harris, producer Osnat Handelsman-Keren, Production Designer Inbal Weinberg, editor Affonso Gonçalves, Sound Designer Leslie Shatz and Music Editor Jahn Sood. FLC Executive Director Lesli Klainberg, Director of NYFF Eugene Hernandez, and FLC & NYFF Director of Programming were also in attendance.
Maggie Gyllenhaal adapts the 2006 novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante, a potent work of psychological interiority that follows Leda (Olivia Colman), a divorced professor on a solitary summer vacation who becomes intrigued and then oddly involved in the lives of another family she meets there.
Check out our exclusive red carpet interviews below:
The Knockturnal: Can you speak about reading the book and what inspired you to adapt it and direct it?
Maggie Gyllenhaal: I’ve read almost all of Ferrante at this point, and when I read her books I feel like she’s saying things that I haven’t heard said out loud before, that feel really true to me about being a woman in the world. I think so many of the representations that I see of myself are kind of fantasy versions of what it’s actually like to be a woman and I spent a
lot of my life trying to fit myself into the fantasy that I was seeing expressed and so when I read her I was like “oh, f*ck, like you know, this is both disturbing and really true.” And I thought how interesting it would be to put those truths up on screen so that you were experiencing them not alone in your room with a book but in a big room full of people. And maybe even with people, you know like your husband, or your mother, or your daughter. So that was I guess what drew me to want to make it into a movie.
The Knockturnal: Nice to meet you! Normal People was one of my binges in the pandemic, I’m sure you’ve heard this many times, congratulations on that.
Paul Mescal: Thank you very much.
The Knockturnal: And so tell me a little bit about this project and your role in it.
Paul Mescal: So I play a character called Will. He’s a lifeguard slash runs the cafe on the beach. He kind of observes a lot of the action. He strikes up a relationship with Leda, Olivia’s character. And so it was really nice to just kind of be able to sit into the film in a way — and I think there’s kind of an abstract quality to him in that it’s hard to kind of put a finger on exactly what he wants, but it’s someone who kind of sits back and observes the action of the film in a way.
The Knockturnal: Speak about collaborating with Maggie on her directorial debut.
Paul Mescal: It’s pretty special isn’t it? It’s not a bad place to start. That was definitely one of those big moments in my life. When you’re called up and you’re like “Maggie Gyllenhaal wants to have you in a film and you’re gonna be shooting it in Greece and Jessie’s gonna be in it, and Olivia’s gonna be in it, and Dakota’s gonna be in it.” It definitely kind of feels like a bit of a fake it ’til you make it kind of a thing. And working with Maggie was a dream, she’s an actor’s dream. She pushes you and pulls you in directions and it never felt like we were arriving into a scene with a kind of finished product in mind.
The Knockurnal: And so speak about working in Greece. That sounds like kind of a cool gig.
Paul Mescal: Pretty cool considering it was roughly this time last year when Covid was at its height … I feel like Covid’s always at its height. It was pretty amazing. Like, the location was spectacular. We got to hang out. It’s just the culture that I think is really quite special.
The Knockturnal: And so can you tell me what you hope viewers take away from this movie?
Paul Mescal: I hope they take away … in terms of the tone, I hope that they can really engage with the complexity of it because I feel like the film is both simple and complex at the same time. I think it’s dealing with a theme that we all have some, or most of us have a reference point in terms of motherhood like we all have mothers …but … it’s not just about the identity of being a mother, it’s the identity of strong women in our lives. And I think the film really gives us an opportunity to look and really engage with our own thoughts and feelings about that.
The Knockturnal: Can you share what you admire about Olivia and what it was like watching her work?
Paul Mescal: I feel like what’s not to admire about Olivia Colman? I got to have dinner with her last night, so. She’s just the best. She’s a fantastic leader of the film, she’s amazing fun, she’s so good. She’s so brilliant and she’s really generous and she really sets the tone in the film and kind of just by her brilliance she demands us all to get up to her level or you’ll be just wiped off the screen.
The Knockturnal: What’s coming up next for you?
Paul Mescal: So I go to Australia in January, I’m shooting a film called Foe with Garth Davis and Saoirse Ronan which I’m super excited about. Yeah we all love Saoirse, she’s amazing. So yeah, I’m super excited about that.
The Knockturnal: So nice to meet you! Congratulations! Tell us a little about your role in this film?
Jessie Buckley: I play a character called Leda and she is the mother of two beautiful young girls. But she also has a brilliant mind and she translates poetry and she goes on a kind of I guess libration of herself. Not just as a mother but as a woman as well and marrying all of those things.
The Knockturnal: And you play the younger version of Olivia Colman’s character, what was it like working with her?
Jessie Buckley: It was like two bottles of Rose and a singsong. That is what it was like.
The Knockturnal: Speak about collaborating with Maggie on this.
Jessie Buckley: Oh that was one of the most rewarding and kind of changing moments of my life as a woman. Just cause Maggie is such a brilliant, beautiful, intelligent, strong woman, who doesn’t apologize for herself really and encompasses all of the things – I guess as a director she had the sensitivity of knowing what it was like to be an actress on the other side, but she also had the confidence to be a leader on the other side of the lens, too. She just dared me to be as full and as humane and honest as I possibly could. And we kind of made a pact to jump off the side of the cliff together, right at the beginning.
The Knockturnal: How was working in Greece?
Jessie Buckley: If anyone wants to film with me, can we please make it in Greece? It was amazing – we got to swim in the sea and I had an amazing crew and it became a little family like we were all on the tiny island together and nobody could come on or off. It was beautiful, it was amazing.
The Knockturnal: Who are your scenes primarily within the film?
Jessie Buckley: Really the young girls, Robin and Ellie, and my husband is played by Jack Farthing who is a friend, and then Peter Sarsgaard as well.
The Knockturnal: How was it like working with Peter?
Jessie Buckley: I mean amazing – he’s such a brilliant brilliant actor and I loved it. I’ve always admired his work. So, you know it’s a good sign when you come outside and you go “oh my god I’m nervous,” and then you really you know make a pact to go there and we did and Maggie was there and she enabled that too so it was brilliant.
The Knockturnal: This is your second project with Netflix following “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” what was it like to be a part of the family?
Jessie Buckley: It’s always nice to be a part of any family. I’m a gypsy so I’ll go along with any family.
The Knockturnal: What’s coming up next for you?
Jessie Buckley: Well I’m in the middle of rehearsals for Cabaret in the West End in London and I just wrapped up on an Alex Garland film and a film called Women Talking directed by Sarah Polley.
The Knockturnal: Alex Garland is a very interesting filmmaker. What was that like?
Jessie Buckley: Amazing, I loved it. It was wild.
The Knockturnal – Tell me about your role in the movie
Dagmara Dominczyk: I play Callie who is Dakota Johnson’s sister-in-law, who is kind of the big loud, loving I would say boss of this Greek-American family that Olivia Colman’s character becomes kind of obsessed with and Callie is pregnant and she’s large and in charge. She butts heads with Olivia’s character and it was a wonderful role to play, in that it allowed me the freedom to be bold and expressive and I’ve never worn a bathing suit on a beach in a movie with a giant prosthetic baby and Maggie was so amazing in creating this supportive, loving, free atmosphere. I don’t think I’ve had an experience that was this magical for many reasons.
The Knockturnal: Speak about going head to head with the great Olivia Colman, what was that like?
Dagmara Dominczyk: I told her it was like I was pulled onto the dance floor with you and you held your hand out and you danced with me and you let me lead the way a little. She disarmed me with how open and down-to-earth and giving she is. I just adored her on the screen, I never met her and was in awe of her talent, and every speech she gave at the Oscars I was crying, laughing, watching at home. There I was most of my scenes are with her and she’s just like a friend I’ve known forever. That’s the kind of person she is.
The Knockturnal: Can you share what you admire about Maggie as a writer and filmmaker?
Dagmara Dominczyk: That she does what she does with such a vision and with such confidence and with such authenticity and she’s an amazing mother to two beautiful girls. She’s a wife, she’s a daughter, she’s a sister, she’s all of it and she does it with such grace – and when there are sh*tty tough days she owns up to that too. She inspired me to just own who I am because she does she owns who she is and it’s a beautiful thing to watch as a fellow actor and woman and a mother.
The Knockturnal: What’s coming up next?
Dagmara Dominczyk: I have Succession season 3 coming out October 17th, can’t wait! And then I just started work on another HBO limited series called We Own This City, from the creators who did The Wire.
The Knockturnal: Good team!
Dagmara Dominczyk: Yes, really excellent team, excellent cast and we’re shooting that in Baltimore right now and we go till November.
The Knockturnal: Any teasers that you can give fans for Succession?
Dagmara Dominczyk: It’s going to be the craziest season yet. Okay, that’s all I’m going to say okay. Balls to the wall.
The Knockturnal: And so tell me about your work on this film.
Jahn Sood (Music Editor): I really loved working with Maggie. She’s really reverent to the source material, expressive with her experience as a mother, and protective of the beautiful performances in the film. Always with music we were making space for the subtleties and trying not to in any way condemn, rather celebrate and understand the characters.
The Knockturnal: And so for those who don’t know, what is the role of the music editor?
Jahn Sood: So I work with the director and with the composer on finding the spots where music happens, negotiating transitions, details, the sounds. And then I’ll follow through the whole demo process up until we’re in score recording. And then I also cut all the licensed music. And in this film there’s a really cool other element, which there’s a bunch of music from Monica, who’s a Greek singer-songwriter sort of pop star extraordinaire, and she wrote all the music
that’s happening in Greece in the landscape of the film. Like it’s original, written for the film, and some of her songs from her record, so I worked with her as well on this one. She’s incredible and Dickon Hinchliffe, the composer, is amazing. He’s from the group Tindersticks, and he wrote a score that kind of evokes film music but also this sort of retro rock and roll feel and I think it really carries the story in a beautiful way.
The Knockturnal: And how did you get your start in doing this? Are you a musician or a composer, also?
Jahn Sood: Yeah I’m a musician and songwriter and composer, but also a writer and so I was always compelled to work on long-form. So I got into film music and theater music, which are all about drama and following character and story. So I use my writer brain but I have these skills from growing up in rock and roll bands making music. So they all get to come together in this form which is like a puzzle of all the different artistic pieces.
The Knockurnal: That’s awesome. What else are you working on?
Jahn Sood: I have another film coming out at this festival tomorrow, which is The Velvet Underground by Todd Haynes and since that’s a documentary it was really fun. We had access to all the demos, recording sessions from the Velvet Underground and Nico. Every version ever, and Todd’s an incredible music mind so it was immense and that will be fun to see come to life. And I just finished Andrew Dominik’s Blonde and I’m working on a documentary now about Abraham Lincoln for Apple.