HNS interviewed Director Gavin Wiesen and actors Emile Hirsch and Analeigh Tipton about their upcoming indie film ALL NIGHTER this week. Check out the interview below, and be sure to see this great film!
*Interview conducted with multiple media outlets.
This was great, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was sort of unexpected, the turn of events. Because you kind of think it’s going to go one way and then it kind of turns and goes another way. What was some of your takes on it when you were first approached and some of the things you were thinking about when you were doing it?
Analeigh: I thought it was, I was really excited. One, just the script. It’s always nice when you laugh out loud when you read something. And it’s also really enjoyable to read, especially comedic material that feels elevated and that you can also see how it can come to life, and when you can see even life beyond it is I think the most exciting and not because it needs it, but because it’s so good that there’s so many ways that things can be spun and said. I was especially interested because, honestly, because I’ve never done a film like this. Where I feel my character is a big part of the film, but the days I had to be on set were not that many. So I thought it was kind of a really great opportunity to have not so much pressure on a role that was also really interesting throughout the movie, that gets, that you start to know her as the other characters do through their adventures and kind of to see how to balance that. And obviously the cast that was involved. Everybody that was onboard seemed great.
Emile: For me, this was a really exciting opportunity to kind of get into a little bit of comedy and it’s not an out-and-out “Hangover” type of comedy. Gavin, what was that Scorsese movie where it’s like the one night thing…
Gavin: After Hours
Emile: Yeah, After Hours. Gavin was talking about After Hours a lot and I was like, alright so I’m not going like full-funny, I can have like a little throw in my dramatic BS every now and then. So I was excited about that and I really liked the idea of kind of playing off of having this buddy movie element and then certainly when J.K. [Simmons] got involved, I like couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘This is amazing! We won the lottery, Gavin! What the hell are we doing here?’ And this was like, two or three weeks after J.K. won the Oscar that we were shooting it. So it was a really special time. It was a really special time in his career right then and there to be working with, so there was a lot of excitement. And to get to shoot it right in LA, was fun for me being a real local from here and getting to kind of see all the neighborhoods that I’ve always been interested in going to and the kind of hipsters and West Hollywood, you know there’s all these weird little underbellies of LA, that they’re not necessarily the main tourist attractions that people think of. But you know it’ll be a nice window into the city. This is sort of the anti- La La Land in a way. That’s gonna be my new catch all phrase for the movie I think. I love that movie by the way, Fred Berger’s a friend of mine. And he actually is. We had a great time making it too. It was a lot of fun. For me it was like, because there’s so much dialogue, I approached it in a slightly different way where I would kind of… I almost rehearsed it like a play with one of the co-producers, and she would just come over to my house and we’d just go over the scenes, like the entire movie. Like once every other day or something like that for a while, for like a month and a half so by the time I was actually on set I knew it really, really well and I was able to kind of be just stress free and just shoot scenes and feel super cozy on set.
You and J.K., were you able to riff and things like that?
Emile: J.K. and I you know, to be honest, we actually stuck pretty closely to the script, because we kind of wanted to just nail. We were shooting running and gunning it, we didn’t have a whole lot of time where we shot, there’s so many locations and a limited number of days so we kind of queued pretty closely to the script but then a guy like Taran Killam comes on set and he’s like… you can’t nail that guy down to the script to save your life. Or
Gavin: Jon Daly.
Emile: Jon Daly. He is like a hilarious improviser. He was doing some improvs that were so off the wall and funny, and a lot of it is in the movie. So it was fun to work with so many different comedic actors. Actors in general, but actors that were really good with comedy, because there were a lot of them, and there’s a lot of different parts. And that was fun for me, not being of that world, you know having that more dramatic movies that I’ve done for the most part and kind of getting to put my toe in that world was a lot of fun for me. Because the people that know me well, they think that I’m actually a lot more like this character, and not so much like the characters that I play in movies. So it was sort of fun in a way.
But do you play the banjo?
Emile: You know, I had a guitar teacher, or a banjo teacher, who was a guitarist in a band, and he’s like one of those dudes that’s like, “The music is the soul of our bloodline.” So he was like, soooo devoted to teaching me the banjo. He would come over to my house like every single day, and just hammer it into me and I actually like learned the riffs to the songs I needed to play in the movie. So yeah, the banjo is a lot harder than I think it’d be because it’s all like separate fingers when you pick and stuff.
So was that you singing too, that was all you?
Emile: Yeah, and my banjo teacher was such a maniac, I was writing all these songs, coming up with the melodies, singing acapella into my phone and then I would send him the things, the songs, and then him and his band would hear it, make all the music, and then I would come and record it, so I recorded 10 or 12 songs just for fun.
Are we going to see that released sometime?
Gavin: We’ll do it. We have to. They’re great. They’re really great songs. It was so much fun to see him go through that and come alive creatively to a type of music, which was bluegrass and an instrument, which was the banjo which he had never learned before. It was cool. He was becoming the character.
Are you into bluegrass?
Gavin: I am casually and I always have been.
Emile: Blue hats and T-shirts and pants.
Gavin: That’s it. Everything blue. I loved it, and I loved it as sort of this anachronistic thing that this character makes his whole life about that really nobody outside of a small subculture gives a crap about. And it’s his entire existence. And I always thought that was a very funny idea. And to love the music and to also know how ultimately irrelevant it is to mainstream popular culture.
Emile: You just broke a lot of bluegrass musicians’ hearts out there.
Well he’s right though, you think someone of your age in this city, you’d be a rocker or something.
Emile: Yeah, yeah, you’re right, it’s a niche market.
Gavin: I lived in Brooklyn 15 or 17 years ago and used to go to my local bar that had a Monday night bluegrass band. It wasn’t Saturday night or Friday night or Thursday, it was literally Monday night bluegrass band, but it was my absolute favorite night of the week and the 20-30 people that would come would have the best time ever and the musicians were brilliant. But they were not trying to become pop stars.
Emile: He’s not opening for Bieber.
With movies like this, sometimes the word “dramedy” would be used to describe it. So you have dramatic actors like Emile and J.K. and then you surround them with these amazing comedians, so what is your take on making the tone balance between the comedy and the drama in this movie?
Gavin: Not to oversimplify it, but I think it’s the most necessary reversal of expectations. And in both cases. It’s like Adam Sandler, he is an incredible dramatic actor when he works with an interesting filmmaker in a drama. Punch Drunk Love with Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite things that he’s ever done and he couldn’t be a more broadly comedic performer, but it was fascinating to see him in a drama. Similarly, Emile is I think one of the best dramatic actors we have, and I had seen enough of his work to know that he could be very funny, and even if it’s only been a few movies out of the many he’s made, it’s obviously the potential is there. But to ground the character in someone with the dramatic chops to make him feel real and to make you emotionally engage with him, that’s the sweet spot.
That’s what I think I liked about it the most, it could’ve geared into madcap. Some crazy stuff happens but it’s more grounded I think. It’s finding you [to Analeigh] and your character and through all these people who you associated with. It made sense, it was organic the way that it all took place.
Emile: Yeah, I think that the movie in a certain sense sacrifices some of the easy grab laughs that other comedies will probably go for and it exchanges that with a little something else. It adds something else. You can’t have a laugh every 10 seconds and still have the kind of depth that we were trying to get.
Have you ever had a boyfriend you had to introduce to your parents that you were a little shaky about or you weren’t quite sure?
Analeigh: Most of them. He’s [her father] quite the intellectual, which makes him difficult in that way I would say. My family really loves to do sarcastic, dry humor. Basically it’s holding down someone and being like, “It’s ok, they’re really being sarcastic.” My parents are pretty accepting after introducing them.
Emile: Oh gosh, oh man. If only I could just sit here and give you my whole inventory. Man, some seriously awkward, awwwwkward times were had. And still are had. Even in-laws that like you really get along with, there’s always this tension. We were talking about this earlier, me and Analeigh, is that there’s like with the in-law types, you know that your partner when they get mad with you or when they’re upset with you, calls their parents and complains, and you know when they get along well with you, they’re not calling up their parents and saying the good stuff, so you know for the most part that the parents have only heard bad shit. They may have seen good stuff, when you guys are all hanging out and having dinner and everything seems chill, but the calls that they’re getting are usually the bad calls. So you know when you meet them, like all of the good ol personal drama, like they know it all, they know everything usually. It depends on the dynamics but for the most part, you know that all the complaints, everything, so you sort of know that you’re outgunned a little bit.
Analeigh: See this is all eye-opening to me. I apparently am quite an optimist when it comes to that because now I’ve been scarred in any parent that I meet, I will assume they may have heard some bad things. “I’m so sorry for everything. Hi, I’m Analeigh.”
Emile: I mean that’s been my, my limited experience.
So the dynamic with you and J.K. – the chemistry onscreen was really great. What was the dynamic like in your approach?
Emile: I mean, I just have so much respect for him and I was so excited that he chose to select this film as the first movie he did right after winning the Academy award. And we were all just kind of honored to be getting to work with a dude like that, doing that right now and I just tried to be as prepared as possible. So that I was able to kind of meet or get as close to his level as I could. I was super happy to be there every day, and really happy to be a part of the film. So I just wanted to be as ready to go as I could for him. I didn’t want to disappoint him ever. I wanted him to feel good about doing the movie and to feel good about working with all the actors and the whole experience that he had.
You didn’t want him to say, “Not my tempo?”
Emile: Yeah, and break a cymbal over my head. [laughs]
I just feel like he [J.K.] even though he just got all this glory, he’s still kind of the same actor he’s always been.
Emile: Yeah, that’s what’s so great about J.K. It’s like, he’s so humble because he considers himself a journeyman actor. He’s like, ‘I’m a character actor,’ but he’s not. He’s a movie star. But he carries himself in a way that, you know, there’s a lot of people that they get a little success right away and they think they walk on water or something like that.
And working with this cast, were you pretty excited about the process?
Gavin: I think that everyone that came to the cast exceeded my expectations by any metric. And Emile had come to the project earlier than anyone, and quite early in the process even for me and that was a huge validation to the material that he saw something in the character and he saw the potential of the movie. And it also of course signaled to other actors who might be interested in it that they would be working with someone they wanted to work with and respected. But yeah, it was such a pleasure. And forgetting even the timing of J.K. having just won everything that he won for Whiplash, he’s the kind of actor I could have only dreamed of to be Mr. Gallo, and the movie really kind of revolves around putting a movie star presence into that character. It got the movie made. And I think that even having Analeigh be this character that the whole story revolves around, but as we discussed she’s not on screen nearly as much as the other two. You needed her ability to be vulnerable and expressive and have this kind of combination of strength and fragility and everything that Ginnie is without any real chance to develop the character. I still can’t believe that we were able to get her to do this movie. I’m very lucky.
Well that means for your next movie you should have her as the lead star.
Gavin: Yeah, I agree.
What’s your next project, Gavin? I’m looking forward to it.
Gavin: Thank you. I’m writing a new thing. And reading scripts. And recently wrote a half hour comedy TV pilot that will hopefully some life. So we’ll see.
ALL NIGHTER releases in LA theaters on March 17th and on VOD & Digital HD on March 24th!