Thursday, February 29, 2024

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    All of Us Strangers Director on Casting Gay Actors and Intimacy Coordinators – The Hollywood Reporter

    The writer-director discussed his approach to casting and talked about shooting the film in his childhood home and capturing its intimate scenes alongside editor Jonathan Alberts during a post-screening discussion at the Festival from New York Film on Sunday. The film follows a gay man in London who, after having a chance encounter with his neighbor, develops a relationship with the man at the same time as he begins to reunite with the ghosts of his deceased parents during brief visits to the house of his childhood.

    During the Q&A at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Haigh explained how he envisioned the casting of Adam, the quiet gay screenwriter at the center of his ghostly drama. Haigh said he always chooses his main protagonists before anyone else in the ensemble. But particularly for All of Us Strangers, which was cast by Kahleen Crawford, finding someone who could relate to Adam’s sexuality was “an important part of the project.”

    “I had liked Andrew for a long time and I felt like it was a perfect role for him,” Haigh told a packed audience. “And I’m not one of those people who says you have to be queer to play queer roles, but it was important to me in this case. Because there are so many nuances I was trying to address, I didn’t want to have a drawn-out conversation with someone trying to understand them.

    For Harry, Adam’s mysterious neighbor turned lover, Paul Mescal arrived very late after Haigh initially didn’t go out with the actor, convinced Mescal wouldn’t be interested. But after learning he was, the writer-director said it was “brilliant” news and worked with the duo “a lot to make their chemistry real and authentic.”

    As for Claire Foy and Jamie Bell, who play Adam’s mother and father, Haigh said he was looking for characters who could be like Scott’s parents, but who would also feel personal to him. “I wanted them to make sense as Andrew’s parents, but I also wanted them to make sense as my parents,” he explained. “So I was trying to find people who made sense for both things, which wasn’t always easy.”

    His parents weren’t the only things he wanted the film to be deeply personal about. The filmmaker, who said his goal was to create a story that was both specific and universal, revealed that Adam’s childhood home also had a direct connection to him.

    “Anyone who knows me knows that (the film) is quite personal. For example, I shot the film in my childhood home, so the house was my old house, and I hadn’t been back in 45 years,” he said of the house, which was the first house his family lived in and is located just outside London. “When I wrote the script, I had this house in mind, and then I went back and walked up to the door and they were like, ‘Yeah, OK, you can film here.’

    “It was a very emotional and strange experience filming scenes in my former parents’ bedroom with the actors,” he continued. “I felt like I was a child again.”

    During the moderated conversation, Haigh also talked about the film’s intimate scenes, both from a filming and editing perspective. The mind behind Looking and Weekend is somewhat known for his artistic approach to intimate scenes, but when it came to All of Us Strangers, the intimate moments he said were ultimately different from what he said. he had done before – even though the director still thought that “they have to feel like they have relevance to the story, otherwise there’s no point.”

    “We actually talked a lot with the actors about how we wanted to feel,” he said. “I wanted it to be real and tender and delicate, and a little sexy and a little dirty sometimes – all those things that sex is.”

    For Alberts, the task was made easier by Haigh’s strength in this storytelling element. “I think Andrew has a real ability to direct actors in this situation,” he said. “The other thing is there are so many possibilities when you have such great actors and such a nuanced performance, you just have a wealth of material and good material.”

    Beyond wanting to try something different stylistically with these intimacy scenes, Haigh said another thing that was different this time around was the presence of an intimacy coordinator.

    “We had an intimacy coordinator that I had never used before, which was its own thing,” he said. “But I’m all for them. I understand why they exist. I think it’s a good thing. It’s a bit of a strange experience when there are now four of you talking about the scenes whereas before there was only three of you, but I totally understand why they exist.

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