We were on the scene for a Special World Premiere Presentation of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” at the New York Film Festival.
Director/Producer Ang Lee, cast Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, Makenzie Leigh, Ben Platt, Barney Harris, Arturo Castro, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Mason Lee, and Beau Knapp, Author Ben Fountain, Screenwriter Jean-Christophe Castelli and producers Marc Platt, Rhodri Thomas, and Stephen Cornwell were in attendance.
Lesli Klainberg (FSLC Executive Director), Eugene Hernandez (FSLC Deputy Director) and Kent Jones (Director of NYFF, Chair of Selection Committee) also walked the red carpet at AMC Lincoln Square.
Synopsis: Ang Lee’s stunning adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel is the story of an Iraq war hero (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who comes home with his fellow members of Bravo Company for a victory tour. This culminates in a halftime show at a Thanksgiving Day football game—a high-intensity media extravaganza summoning memories of the trauma of losing his beloved sergeant in a firefight. Lee’s brave, heartbreaking film goes right to the heart of a great division that haunts this country: between the ideal image of things as they should be and the ongoing reality of things as they are. Billy Lynnis also a step forward in the art of cinema, made with a cinematographic process years ahead of its time. With a brilliant supporting cast, including Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel and Steve Martin.
Tell me about how you got into the world and the concept of cinematography that Ang Lee has?
Kristen Stewart: Ang is making a movie in 3D. It’s a drama of sort of epic proportions. I think that we’re used to seeing things, in a revolutionary sense, technically either science fiction or action. This is not a spectacle. It’s a revelation. It’s really like truly trying to get closer to a subject than anyone has gotten before. As an actor, that’s all I want to do is I want to be purely visible. There’s been nothing that I’ve ever been involved with that’s ever gotten closer to that and I have no idea what it’s even going to look like. I can’t wait to go see. He just wants to get closer. I think the way he describes it, even though it’s hard to understand because he’s kind of a mastermind. I think he’s probably done it.
Talk about your preparation.
Well, I was cast very, very quickly, before we started shooting, so it was a very intense process. Me and a bunch of boys did two weeks of boot camp in Atlanta, which was very, very useful. I read the book a lot, spoke to Ang a lot, I thought about it a lot and just had to jump in.
Joe, what was it like working this new technology?
Because it was my first movie, I didn’t have any reference of making a normal film before, with normal technology, and so for me, it was a little less weird, probably, than other people who had done a lot more. They were coming into it and they were re-adjusting to this new way of doing things, whereas for me, it became the norm, having not done anything before. It was strange. I could tell it was unusual. The cameras were very, very big, very, very close to your face. You often couldn’t see the other actors. You were looking at tape on the matte box around the screen. It took some getting used to.
How did you find your way into the character?
Just thought about it a lot and spoke about it a lot with Ang, and tried to bring part of myself to it, which is what I think you do in every part. In the same way that Billy is thrown into quite an extreme, strange situation, I suddenly found myself in an environment I’d never been in and it was unusual for me. I tried to use part of that newness in me to echo his.
What do you hope people take away from it?
I hope they enjoy it. I think it’s a thought provoking, unique, ambitious film. I think at the heart of it, it’s a coming-of-age story for a boy, and I think that’s a very human thing. I think, hopefully, people will be able to connect with that.
The TriStar Pictures release hits theaters on November 11.