Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale and Kiersey Clemons discuss The Only Living Boy in New York
I often get the opportunity to talk with many actors and actresses whom I greatly admire. From time to time, I RSVP for a screening and interviews without knowing anything about the film prior to seeing it a day or two before the interview. This was the case with The Only Living Boy in New York. When I was presented with an opportunity to interview Hollywood legend Jeff Bridges as well as Kate Beckinsale and Kiersey Clemons, I couldn’t say no, despite knowing nothing about the film. If this was a film that was premiering at a film festival and I didn’t know about it that could go either way. However, it is usually a bad sign when I don’t know anything about a film a week or two prior to its release, considering all I do is talk about and watch movies.
Unfortunately, The Only Living Boy in New York was not a good film but had a great cast including the three actors that I interviewed for the film. Instead of focusing on the negative, I want to say that despite the lackluster film, Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale and Kiersey Clemons were a lot to fun to have a conversation with. Below are the interviews broken down by each one of the three actors.
Scott: You are a Hollywood legend. What is it about this movie and this character that spoke to you? What made you want to do this?
Jeff Bridges: Well, it’s a great story, for one thing. It’s the kind of movie that I love to be involved in. I’m a big fan of the movies myself. I love movies that surprise you, you know, where the filmmakers are headed in one direction and you think you’ve got each of these characters figured out and pigeonholed, but they all kind of bloom in their own unique ways. This script and this story is no exception to that. It has all those elements.
Then meeting with our director, Marc Webb, finding out what his approach to making the movie, and then as the cast fell together, all of those elements made it a pretty easy decision to jump on board.
Scott: Did you have any reservations coming on-board this project, knowing that this was the make or break project for screenwriter Allan Loeb? It said in the press notes that he was actually going to give up screenwriting entirely if this movie didn’t get made.
Jeff Bridges: I know. I love that. I just read that story this morning. No, I didn’t know about that. I just read the script without knowing anything about who wrote it or anything, and loved the script. It takes time to get your stories made sometimes. I’ve had wonderful luck with first time filmmakers and first time writers, so that didn’t bother me at all.
Scott: You’ve been in so many different projects, from TV shows, to independent movies, to big budget movies. What is the struggle going between all those different types of projects?
Jeff Bridges: Well, I don’t know about the struggle. I’m glad that we have these big tentpole movies. Have they gotten up to $300 million yet? I don’t know, but these giant tent-pole movies. I’m glad we have those.
Scott :Well, you were in Iron Man. That’s pretty big movie.
Jeff Bridges: Yeah, and I’m glad they have the movies like Tangerine, where it’s all shot on an iPhone, and I’m glad they have the mid-range, like this movie. There’s all different but I’m so happy that Amazon is making films in this budget range. I think we started to miss that, you know, recently, with just the block of big tent pole movies and the very low-budget. Now, we’re getting this style movie. I’m really happy about that.
Scott: You’ve done so many different types of genres and have worked with so many people. Is there something that you really want to do in terms of genre, or someone you really want to work with you that you haven’t worked with already?
Jeff Bridges: Not really. I don’t operate that way, thinking, “Oh, I got to play George Washington.” I don’t have that. It’s more of a counter puncher. I kind of resist going to work unless there’s a story like this one that kind of reels me in …
Scott: Got you.
Jeff Bridges: … that I can’t help but do because it’s such a great offer or opportunity.
Scott: What was it like working with Marc Webb? You said you worked with a lot of directors. While he isn’t exactly new and up and coming. He did have a small film with 500 Days of Summer, and then he did the two Spider-Man movies. What was it like working with him?
Jeff Bridges: He’s my favorite kind of director to work with, a guy who has a real strong vision about how he’d like to see it. At the same time, he’s very open to get the ideas from all of the people that he’s assembled around him to help tell the story. I found him wonderful to work with. The environment he created on the set was very relaxed. Out of that relaxation comes, I think, the best work.
Scott: Your character talks a little bit in the beginning of the movie, and I think it’s kind of an interesting thing about the film in general, is that it talks a little bit about how New York has changed over the years. Since you’ve been around to New York and LA, how do you feel that New York and LA have changed over the years?
Jeff Bridges: Everything’s changing, man. All the towns are getting more crowded. You know. It’s just the way it goes.
Scott: Yeah. All right. Well, thank you very much. It was awesome meeting you. Thank you so much.
Jeff Bridges: Nice to meet you as well. Nice shirt by the way. I dig it.
Scott: You’ve been in so many different films and taken on so many different genres and character types. What was it about Allan’s portrayal of Johanna in this movie that really spoke to you and made you want to do it?
Kate Beckinsale: I loved the script. I thought the script was beautiful, and I love the fact that it’s about flawed human beings just sort of trying to bumble through as best they possibly can. When I first read the script, there was a slight opacity to Johanna, and Allan and Marc both said to me that they were a bit confused and they weren’t sure. I felt really clear about what I wanted for her, and what I wanted her to be. She’s not the sort of person who’s a mistress or the sort of person who has affairs with a father and a son, which is such a kind of extreme thing to do. I don’t think anyone sets out to do. Almost certainly. She’s not a sociopath.
I think everybody in the movie is at a point in their life where they’re a bit at sea, and so is she. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t just this kind of mysterious femme fatale. She was genuinely someone who’s really seeking kind of love and is being thwarted because she’s having an affair with a married man. But the souls aren’t always clean. You know what I mean? Yet, throughout the movie, she’s the one that sort of exposes truth everywhere. It was important to me that there wasn’t a bad guy in the movie. You don’t feel that Pierce is a bad guy. You know you understand his situation. You don’t necessarily morally approve, but you understand it. You can see why he’s in it. You can see why she’s there. You can see why Callum is. Everybody’s just vulnerable, and I thought that was really lovely.
Scott: Was there any point, when reading this script and learning about this character and how complex it she was, where you were like, “I don’t know if I can do this”? Was there a certain scene that was left out? Were there any struggles, I guess wrapping your mind around this character?
Kate Beckinsale: No, I think that, as I said, she was a little bit more opaque originally, and what was great was that Marc and Allan were so ready to have an actual female come in and sort of … and work with them. So I had a kind of week or two before the shooting where we sort of workshopped it a lot, writing, and it was a lovely creative thing to get to do with the two of them.
Scott: Working with so many actors over the years, what was it like working with this cast, in particular?
Kate Beckinsale: It was heaven. It was one of those movies where you just didn’t want it to end. It was just one of those really lovely ones where everybody was so in love with the project and so committed, and you know Jeff Bridges is just the coolest person in the whole world and just warm and lovely. So is everyone, actually. So you know Marc really creates this very kind of tender set where he’s very uncynical, and he’s quite vulnerable himself so he sort of brings that out of everybody, which is a lovely thing.
Scott: In a lot of ways I feel like this movie, just like so many movies, is a love letter to New York. It criticizes the city for changing and like how it’s all about the hipsters now and all that stuff. What’s your favorite movie or love story that takes place in New York?
Kate Beckinsale: Gosh. I don’t know. I mean I’m a big Breakfast at Tiffany’s fan, I have to say. That was when I first kind of was like, “Oh, wow. I have to get there.”
Scott Menzel :Yeah, I think that’s a great one to go to. The movie in a lot of ways reminded me of a Woody Allen movie and then of course the third acts, which changes things a bit.
Kate Beckinsale: There are whiffs of The Graduate and then there’s a few kind of movies in there, I think.
Scott: Yeah, I can see that. Well thank you. Very nice talking to you.
Kate Beckinsale: Very nice talking to you.
Scott: I was first introduced to you as an actress at Sundance for Dope and I loved that movie. Since then it’s been so incredible watching your career grow.
Kiersey: Thank you.
Scott: What was it about this character and this film that really spoke to you and made you want to do it?
Kiersey: She was relatable to me and I think there was a lot of honesty of what it means to be that age and how you feel about people.
Scott: Were you aware of the story behind the screenwriter wanting to make this movie prior to being a part of it?
Kiersey: The story behind Allan?
Kiersey: Which one?
Scott: The story about how this was going to be his make or break film. He was going to leave Hollywood and not write another movie, if this one didn’t get made. Because being a part of something like that, there must have been pressure to that.
Kiersey: No, there is no pressure, especially once you know Allan. You’re just like, “Okay.” No, there is no pressure. I think he’s just really excited to get the movie made and I think the best way to satisfy him in making this movie was to just be passionate about Mimi and do the best that I can, and loan a little bit of Kiersey to the character. Yeah, you can’t focus on that other stuff. That sounds terrifying when you say it like that.
Scott : Working with this cast, I know you mainly just start alongside Callum, right? What was it like? Was it intimidating working on a film with Pierce Brosnan and Jeff Bridges, and all these people in the cast?
Kiersey: It wasn’t necessarily intimidating. I didn’t have any scenes with Pierce and Jeff, but being around them I think it was a bit like, at first you’re like, “Oh, whoa. Hello.” But, I enjoyed watching them do what they do, and how they interact with the crew and everyone that they’re working with and loving what they do still. Yeah.
Scott: Do you think this movie’s important for people for the lost twenty-somethings to see because everyone in this movie seems lost and is ultimately looking for answers?
Kiersey: I think you’re always looking for answers and if you think that you have it all figured it out than you’re annoying. You don’t know anything and nobody wants to be friends with you.
Scott: True. True story.
Kiersey: No one wants to talk to that guy, who’s like, “I got it all figured out.” Like, “Okay.”
Scott: You’ve worked on so many different projects now, TV, small movies, big movies. What’s the differences or the struggles going back and forth between TV, indie film, big budget film?
Kiersey: TV is so exhausting. So much work goes into making a TV show and I think people think the other way around. TV is so draining, but it’s really satisfying at the end to see it all come together as is a movie. I think there’s really big differences in making small movies and then giant movies, and who you’re satisfying, whether you’re satisfying a studio head or if you’re making a movie to satisfy yourself, and, of course, the world that’s going to see it. Obviously, I prefer that one. I would just love to make movies like this forever. Yeah.
Scott: Last question. Since the movie takes place in New York and New York is such an iconic place for movies to take place in, what’s your favorite movie that takes place in New York, or is based around New York?
Kiersey: Favorite movie … Oh, man. Now I’m stressed out. Give me an option.
Scott: Wall Street.
Scott: Any Woody Allen movie.
Kiersey: Can I say American Psycho?
Scott: Sure. That’s a great movie.
Scott: There’s nothing wrong with that. American Psycho is a great movie.
Kiersey: Yeah. That’s not what I was thinking I was going to say. I was going to go with something that was a bit more romantic, but American Psycho is really … I was going to say satisfying. Okay, cut.
Scott: Well, thank you very much.
Scott: Really nice meeting you.
The Only Living Boy in New York is now playing in select theaters throughout the United States.