Recently I attended a special preview screening of the upcoming HBO series “Sharp Objects” presented by Filmspotting.
Confronted by a root to her past; following what comes next reveals her folly – and falling into the Complete Unknown is merely the start of it.
From the perspective of the lead characters, one could say that it’s quite a confusing tale. A woman who often dons a new persona – a manipulative guise so she can easily conform to new places and people – is suddenly recognized by an acquaintance from her past, and things slowly fall into place.
Joshua Marston’s new film, “Complete Unknown” hits theatres this Friday, but we’ve got a sneak peak into the mind of the director himself; of whom gladly partook in an interview with The Knockturnal.
The title really sticks out – tell us about it’s origins.
Marston: It was, you know, one of a thousand titles that we went through – trying to find the right one. Many felt, by the way, tied. And, you know, we wanted a title that had some association with the plot and when you watch the movie, kind of takes on a whole other level of meaning. And, you know, makes you think about different aspects of the movie. It references Bob Dylan; it references the unknown ability of Rachel Weisz’s character; it references the Complete Unknown. It’s a hard title to market. It’s a challenging part sometimes when people say “Josh, what’s your movie?” and I say “It’s Complete Unknown,” and they say “Your movie is a complete unknown? You don’t know your movie? The complete unknown? What do you mean?” Sometimes it’s a challenge.
How did you come up with the premise of the film?
Marston: The premise grew out of an interconnecting movie about a woman who is not who she presents herself of being. I’m not one for the idea that someone could just change their identity – I know they question even further by asking what would it be like to change your identity and create something new – and then after a while, finds that, for whatever reason, not satisfied, do you stick it out? Do you go back to who you were before? Or do you change again? And what would happen if you kept changing again, and again, and again. We were curious to explore that question – of what that would be like.
If I recall, New York is the setting of the film, right? Why was New York chosen specifically?
Marston: I mean, I chose New York mainly because that’s where I live. We very, functionally, made a movie that is – you know, a lot of locations that were in the neighborhood that I live in, so it was a world that I knew well. And, after having made movies in Colombia and Albania, I wished to make a movie in where I could walk to work.
Explain the chemistry between the lead actors. How did you develop them?
Marston: You know, they’re characters that are – you know – they have – it’s hard to say anything without giving away the movie, but they’re characters who have a past. Not necessarily about rekindling that past, but definitely about exploring that past and, you know, that feeling when you mean to catch up with someone from another time; someone who can ground you, orient you, and sort of, give you a glimpse into who you are.
Any particular scene you enjoyed filming?
Marston: I think the scene I enjoyed watching the most was the scene with Kathy Bates and Danny Glover. They were in a room with Michael Shannon and Rachel Weisz together. And they just – having four amazing actors at the top of their game in what is a very strange, and very subtle enjoyable scene. It was great just to watch each of them come up with stuff and play off one another. Every actor brings something to their interpretation of their character that enables the others to come up with something in turn. And that’s what good actors do. That was a pleasure.
As director, what is your vision for this film?
Marston: I would most like people to walk out of the movie and have a whole bunch of questions about identity; about how they live their lives; how it’s possible for Rachel Weisz’s character to do what she does; what it would be like to do that, and what that implies for their own lives. And whether or not it’s possible to make a change in your life. Or whether it would be possible to do something completely different.
Did you base the lead actress off someone in your own experience?
Marston: No, I can’t speak personally about someone whose done this. I mean, we’ve all met people that made a change – whether it’s to go off to college and you refashion yourself, or pick up a new wardrobe and don a new persona – I wanted to make a movie version of that.
How does it feel having your film hit the big screen?
Marston: The most enjoyable thing is standing in the back of the auditorium and seeing the audience react to the movie on the big screen. And seeing them talking among themselves about what’s come up.
Any future projects?
Marston: Yeah, I’m getting ready to make a movie called Come Sunday with Robert Redford and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Complete Unknown hits theatres on August 26th.