"Frost/Nixon: Interview Ron Howard" pour le DVD belge...
Interview (en VO) du réalisateur Ron Howard pour le film "Frost/Nixon".
RON HOWARD is an Academy Award winning film maker whose projects have covered a wide range of subjects...from Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind to The Da Vinci Code and Cinderella Man.
QUESTION: What were the challenges in bringing a hit stage play like Frost/Nixon to the screen?
RON HOWARD: Well it is the first time I have ever adapted a play for the screen and it is an interesting balance of supposition and fiction that Peter Morgan [writer] has created to help us really understand what makes these guys tick and understand these literal transcripts that you need to bring to life. Oddly I found myself using a lot of the cinematic techniques that I applied to Cinderella Man, during some of the interview scenes I tried to treat it in that visceral, intense way. I think some of those choices worked out pretty well.
QUESTION: What attracted you to this project?
RON HOWARD: It was a blend of things. The interviews had meant something, I recalled them. It was pretty cathartic for me at that time in a number of ways. Even while the political relevance was pertinent to me, it was secondary to the fact that I love working with great actors who have interesting, complicated characters to play. And here was something that was entertaining on a lot of levels and two fascinating characters, icons really.
QUESTION: You are working with two great actors - Frank Langella and Michael Sheen - but what do you think are the special qualities of your two stars?
RON HOWARD: They are very different personalities but both are extremely exacting. For Frank Langella, I think it is all emotion and a sense of inhabiting - on a poetic level almost. I think for Michael Sheen, who is an extraordinary actor; it is this incisive moment-by-moment use of every fibre of his body to keep exploring the character. They are two very different kinds of actors - both just absolutely remarkable to work with.
QUESTION: During the course of making Frost/Nixon did your views on Richard Nixon change at all?
RON HOWARD: Well I certainly deepened my understanding of him and I was most taken by the way his staff members, whom I interviewed, revered him, while still acknowledging his character defects. To me it was that paradoxical view that I wanted to build into the movie for audiences.
QUESTION: There is a lot of laugh out loud humour in Frost/Nixon, was it important for you to have the laughs so that the drama is even more powerful?
RON HOWARD: Here is what happened...I read the play and then I went to see it at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London. I had loved the story but I had not seen the laughs in the text. But when I saw the play and sat there with the audience, I realised that it was funny too! So then I was completely swept away by it and I had to try and direct it.
QUESTION: How did you approach shooting the film?
RON HOWARD: One thing that I wanted to do, which for me was very unusual in terms of the approach was that we did almost no rehearsal. I would give the camera guys a rough idea of where I thought the actors might go and then we would pretty much roll the cameras. I might say that we were going to shoot this rehearsal but really we were pretty much diving in. It seemed to give everything a kind of energy and keep it fresh.
QUESTION: What are your plans for the DVD release of such an intelligent and engrossing film?
RON HOWARD: I have not gone through the final plan with the team on it; although I know that they want to build in some extras, relating to the actual event, maybe even some snippets from the [actual] interviews and so forth. But we have not made the final decisions about what we are going to have there yet.
QUESTION: What was the most challenging scene that you set up for Frost/Nixon?
RON HOWARD: Probably the phone call sequence [when Nixon calls Frost late at night]. I made a decision there to build both sets near each other so that we could film both sides of that film conversation at the same time on the same day. It was very intense. I had two cameras on the same set because I didn't want the actors to have to go through too many takes. I was moving back and forth, between the two actors quietly and it was a day that I will never forget. I felt that they had performed this remarkable scene so many times on stage in unison that something was going to be lost for the audience if we suddenly pulled it apart and did it the traditional way, where one person is reading from off camera. I wanted to give audiences that same charge that the theatre crowd would get.
QUESTION: It could be said that the Frost interviews with Nixon were the start of trial by television. Can you reflect on that and the manner in which television today uses the weapon that David Frost handed it?
RON HOWARD: It certainly was a shock to witness the interviews, you simply had never seen a political figure from any country grilled in that way, beyond glimpses you might have got from Congressional Hearings. For a resigned President of the United States to go beyond the tough question and to be pursued the way he was, was extraordinary. To get that kind of emotion beyond the rhetoric and the skilful avoiding answers was really important. For me, going into those interviews, not as a Nixon hater at all but as a young citizen - who was rather confused about everything and frustrated - the moments that were captured on that television were significant. Now we have the sound bite blasted everywhere. There is so much of it now that gets turned into white noise. It is really hard to discern. It is worse now than ever.
QUESTION: How much of the film is from the actual episodes and how much was taken from people’s memories of what went on?
RON HOWARD: That process began during the writing of the play and the early stages of the play but one of the things that I double checked before I committed to making the movie was that the key turning points came out of the TV interviews - and they do. That was important to me. A lot of creative liberties are taken in terms of the private lives and I felt that was completely fair and appropriate in a drama because what they were offering was an authentic sense of what made each of these characters tick. We continued doing our research on into the filming and we came up with a lot of interesting details that tended to humanise all the characters. I also really wanted the supporting characters to be vivid individuals and occasionally to shift the perspective to their characters’ eyes. So that we would be kind of experiencing it through them. I felt it would make the story more emotional for an audience, to suddenly relate to it through those characters.
QUESTION: It looks like you will be boxing against yourself in awards season because you are also the producer of Changeling?
RON HOWARD: Changeling is a terrific movie and it is always fun to be in the mix and a part of the conversation, so fingers crossed on all fronts.
Source: Universal Pictures (Benelux)
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