During SXSW Josh participated in a round table interview with the cast and director of ground breaking film Win Win(Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer, and Thomas McCarthy). A Thomas McCarthy Film about suburban family who are facing financial problems and through a series of events have a young sixteen year old boy enter their lives who happens to be a star athlete.
Q: So, Paul, when you’re at these wrestling matches, you are watching the coaches more than the wrestlers, did that help you figure out what to do with the movie?
A (Paul): Yeah, they are a whole thing to themselves, those guys. How involved the really great ones are. Its really intense to watch. They get tough with them.
Q: Your character is all about these little nuances, was it fun to keep up with these ideas?
A (Paul): Yeah, Tom’s open to these things, but the whole thing was pretty much written; it was all in there. And there were a lot of little great things about it.
Q: Amy, you played a lot of challenging roles. What attracted you to this script and this character?
A (Amy): What attracted me was Tom telling me he was writing a script with me in mind, haha. I thought it was great. Ultimately, its just playing a good, strong mother, a happily married woman. A woman who is kind of no nonsense. Its all fun stuff to do. Then I heard Paul and Bobby were gonna be in it and I knew it’d be great.
Q:Paul, could you describe the psychology of your character?
A: (Paul): You know he’s not a guy who ever deviates from the norm. I find it an interesting thing that through out the movie, I find a lot of stuff about masculinity and being a man and in Bobby’s character. He is going through all of his own shit but its all about being a shark and hitting things hard and taking a chance. You know he is not a great coach; he does not have that kind of drive actually. Its just not who he is. He is desperate, so he is trying to be something he is not.
Q: Is that why he doesn’t tell his wife about the financial troubles?
A (Paul): I mean yeah, its not something he’s proud of. He is not a guy who does this and doesn’t give a shit at all. He does know it wasn’t right but he does it anyway. And at the end of the movie he finds out he is ok with not being that guy.
Q: Amy, how do you really feel about Jon Bon Jovi?
A (Amy): I don’t know if I’d get a tattoo, but he’s pretty hot, haha.
Q: Something that jumped off the screen to me was how close and comfortable everyone seemed together; how did you create that?
A (Paul): We rehearsed, which helped, haha. We didn’t do a lot of back story stuff, it just felt like we knew what we were doing. Being in that house, that real house, helped. It had a feel to it. And the kids were wonderful. It was just being in that environment. And it was the same crew from Tom’s other films, so that helped.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about working with Alex and this is his first film. Was he a quick learner?
A (Paul): The only things were the technical things, and keeping the continuity between scenes. But it wasn’t a problem for the kid. Its part of why he’s so talented as an athlete, to walk into a situation and try his hardest and give it his all. He came in with no baggage or judgment. He was watchful about it. He was there, and present, and having a good time, which was nice to be around, too. He wasn’t jaded in any way.
Q: Tell me about working with Bobby and and Jeffrey Tambor.
A (Paul): It was really fun. A really good combination of guys, those three characters. Those days were a piece of cake. I’m not a guy who cracks up a lot, but I was laughing all the time.
Q: Did you get to work that relationship out with the three of you?
A (Paul): Yeah, and we got to rehearse, but it was really just there. Kind of like a Three Stooges thing, it was really fun to do.
Q: Paul, In the movie your character asks Alex how it feels to be the best; I want to ask you the same question?
A (Paul): Well, I have no answer for that. I don’t think I am. It would be nice to be good at it..but that’s an interesting theme in the movie- being good at something, being in control.
Q: Was it more of a challenge to play someone who seems to be like yourself in real life?
A (Paul): Yeah I don’t think I’ve ever played a character that I felt was really like me. I found this character was tricky. I don’t know how similar he is to me or not, but it was different for me to do. He was a complicated character in a different sort of way than the other central characters I’ve played. He is conflicted, but that sense of how much he reveals or compartmentalizes, it was a different thing than I was used to.
Q: Is there anything different about being directed by someone who’s also an actor, versus just a director?
A (Paul): Really good directors can give the right sort of feeling, that they understand. He’s known me for a long time; he knows my tricks. He would know things like when a prop would be a problem, and details like that, from being an actor. Tom had a compassion knowing you couldn’t do certain things.
A (Amy): Tom was helping with a scene and was embarrassed because he wasn’t as good as Paul, but wanted to get a feel for how it felt, how it was playing out. He goes the distance.
Q: So Amy, if Jackie (her character in Win Win) and Holly Flax (her character in The Office) were to meet, how do think it would go?
A (Amy): I think they’d get on really well, they’d have a blast. Although I think Jackie may lose some patience at times, with the goofiness. I think they’d mix well with each other.
Q: It seems like the messages of Gone Baby Gone and Win Win were opposite. Did you feel like you got a chance to play the opposite mom?
A (Amy): Yeah, definitely. Different perspectives.
Q: Were you ever an athlete, in any way?
A (Amy): No, just like street games and stuff. Kickball, that sort of thing.
By Josh Davis