CONFERENCE – Alexander Payne: “It’s a story that’s both funny and sad, a bit like life”

Alexander Payne © FDC / GT

Alexander Payne attended the press conference this morning for Nebraska, his black and white road movie, which is presented today in Competition. To answer the questions from the journalists, the director was accompanied by the actors Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb and Angel McEwan, as well as the prodcuers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger. Selected highlights.

Alexander Payne on the origins of the film:
You make a film at a given moment in time. I got the screenplay 9 years ago. It’s a story that’s both funny and sad, a bit like life. The writer had really lived what happens in the story, so he’s describing his personal experience. It’s a film from the Depression era, which is why I wanted to make it in black and whtie.

Bruce Dern, on how the director worked with the actors:
There’s a difference between asking an actor to do something and telling him. (Payne) looks closely at the different takes and asks you to change and develop as things progress.It wasn’t like Hitchcock. One day Hitchcock told me, “I took you on because I think you’re funny. I’ve got 15 perfect takes here but none of them is funny.” But Alexander Payne, is there for you. He has a whole team in place to help you relax. You don’t get the feeling you’re taking risks

The father-son relationship in the flim, explained by Alexander Payne:
The father wants to offer his elderly father a moment of dignity. My parents are getting on and it’s a question that affects me because I’d also lilke them to grow old with complete dignity. Old age can diminish us, and make us lose our dignity. We have to hold on to it.

June Squibb on her character:
The marvellous thing about this character is that she hides nothing. She says whatever’s on her mind. That’s how she’s always lived.

Reported by TK