Interview with Rusty Gorman : Part 2
your cast, so that's what I'd like to talk about next. What influenced your decisions
in the casting process? Was it talent over name or name over talent?
: From my point of view it's always talent first but of course there's always
the commerce side of it, you've got to think of it in terms of a business as well
as an art form. Any film is going to be more saleable when there's name talent
attached and so one of the first things the producers wanted to do was to attach
someone who had a name. The three main roles in the film are for high school aged
kids, and one thing that was really important to me was that we cast actors who
were really that age, I didn't want to cast 24, 25 year olds to play high school.
So there were not a lot of names in that category, in that age category that had
the name value. We initially tried to cast two of the smaller roles that were
for older actors who would have name value, but it wasn't working and while that
was happening I kept saying let's go, let's go to Haley. Haley's the one person
who was absolutely perfect for the lead role and has a name that means something.
But the producers were hesitant, eventually we met with Haley and he responded
to the script. The minute that happened, we were off and running. That was really
What was it like working
with Haley Joel Osment, Ryan Merriman and Danielle Panabaker?
: Well, I can't say enough about those three, all tremendous actors but beyond
that they were just great to work with. They gave so much, they were open to "improv"
and bringing more to each scene and that's what makes the film, the performances
of those three. Their performances I think stand out and it's a character driven
story. I knew the key to the whole thing was the chemistry that we could create
between Haley's character and Ryan's character. The casting of those two roles
was the make or break thing and I think that is probably the strongest part of
the film, the work those two did and the chemistry that was created between those
How much did each
of them contribute to their respective characters, over and above what was defined
for each character in the screenplay that you wrote? Was it a collaborative process
in developing each of the main characters with the actors playing them? How much
was the respective actor's contribution to the character that he was playing?
: We were fortunate enough to have a couple of weeks, or at least 10 days
of rehearsal. Haley, Ryan and I spent a lot of time and we talked about the characters
and we were able to go through each scene several times and I made it clear to
both that it was going to be a collaborative situation. I made it clear that we
had to stick to the story, I didn't want them to go too far off on a tangent,
but I wanted them to feel comfortable putting it at times in their own words if
something on the page didn't sound exactly right to their ear. I think both felt
absolutely comfortable rephrasing and putting it in their own words and that quality
I think really comes across in this film, that is, it feels really conversational,
I don't think you feel the written word, it feels really spontaneous and I have
to credit those guys for being open to that collaborative process.
you have any interesting anecdotes to relate about the three main actors?
: [laughs] I don't know about anecdotes, but I can tell you this
with Haley, he is one of the most interesting, intelligent people that I've ever
met. Outside of the film business, in my whole life, he is so bright and has such
knowledge of so many diverse topics it is just amazing to talk to him. He has
a real interest in music and he's just multi-talented, so when you're working
with him its great, when you're on set working and then spending time with him
outside of that is so interesting because he's so knowledgeable about so many
Ryan, to me, is just a natural, I mean he just took to this part and it just fit
perfectly, it was his personality. It was really fun to just watch him work, I
think he kind of became that character and remained that character on and off
the set the whole time we were down there. Whether we were working or whether
we were out to dinner afterwards or whatever we were up to, I think he really
became Matt Morrison for 7-8 weeks. It's funny when we had to then do the final
4 days of principal photography, I think it was like 9 months later, there was
about 18% of the movie we didn't complete down in North Carolina mainly because
of what we were talking about earlier, the issue about the exterior day locations
not being available. Anyway, Ryan was like, "Wow I gotta go back to that
place you know, I gotta be Matt again," and I was like, I hope he can get
right back into character, and he just snapped right back into it, you could see
it, you know. It was like he took on that character and became that person. It
was a lot of fun watching him take the words that I had written and making them
his own. As I said earlier he's just brilliant doing it.
different are Haley and Ryan in their acting methods?
I think that both are very prepared, they come ready and they're both
open to changing things on the spot. I think in many ways they have a lot in common,
they both have great instinct, and they work together really well. I could see
after the first 2-3 rehearsals that this was going to be a fun, the collaborative
process and the key was just to have enough time to let that relationship develop
and grow and let them feel like they had the space and time to experiment a little
bit and I knew we were going be in real good shape.
: Danielle's part was smaller than Haley's and Ryan's. Danielle was with us
for about two weeks and Danielle was always completely prepared and she brought
a lot to her part, she elevated the character. The camera loves her, she has a
quality that draws you to her when she's onscreen. I remember when she read in
the audition, I think she wasn't feeling that well, maybe she had a cold that
day or whatever it was, but I immediately knew she was the character, she was
perfect, and I'm thrilled that she was able to do it and her schedule worked out
and she took the role because you'll see that her performance is outstanding.
Like I said, all three were always so prepared and they took directions amazingly
well, anytime I wanted to adjust something in their performance, it happened on
the next take. They responded to changes and they got along really well. It was
a joy working with those three.
there any scenes where the actors managed to give so much more than what you as
director, were expecting, or had been envisioned in the script? Were there any
standout moments when at the end of the scene, you yelled "cut" and
realized that something amazing had just happened?
: That happened more than once. I don't want to give a lot away, I don't want
to go into a lot of details as to which scenes because you know, with some of
those moments I might be giving something away. But it happened, certainly, more
than once. There were a couple of times when the ending of a scene was changed,
and then it was changed again, and then again, and it was different each time,
and it worked. Choice after choice, if I had more time I would have done even
more takes because it was just entertaining to be there in that space watching
it happen. I would crack up when I said "cut," time and time again,
because of a change that would be made at the end of a take or a little added
element. Those three, like I said, they brought so much more to each of those
roles and continued to, you know, there was this momentum that built and I think
that the actors kind of fed off each other, they saw like ok, we can go other
places, there's an opening here, we can experiment and there was like a good natured
almost actorly competition to see what else each could do, kind of show your craft.
Ken Mitchell also got a sense of that momentum, was open to improvisation and
he jumped right in. They fed off each other, there was just this really positive
energy on the set and you could feel the actors feeding off one another, and it
just enhanced all the performances. Brent Briscoe, same thing, he's a total professional,
he had a lot of experience, he came in at the last second and I think he really,
really hit it out of the park. He was great. He also felt that openness, added
to it and he came up with a couple of ideas on the spot that are in the final
cut, and just make it that much better.
the final part of this exclusive interview with Rusty Gorman , releasing tomorrow,
as he talks about the themes in Home of the Giants, the May 9th prerelease screening
of the film, and why post production work seemed to take so long ...