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10 Questions with EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE stars Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow, and director Stephen Daldry!

By InCinemas  /  19 May 2012 (Saturday)

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The release of EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE's Blu-ray and DVD is nearing, here's 10 Questions with two members of the cast, Sandra Bullock, and Max Von Sydow, and director Stephen Daldry to whet your appetite. Read to find out more about what they think about the film, working together on set, and their views on 9/11. 

Actress Sandra Bullock speaks...

Q1: There were so many heavy scenes obviously when you're shooting. How did you decompress at the end of the day or tell us if there were some lighter moments on the set.

Bullock: The decompression happened at the very end of the day. Just when you felt you were done, and you thought you were on your way to lunch, and you were peeling yourself up and getting the swelling down in your face, art director Peter (Rogness) was like, “Darling, I have an idea, I need for you to do another scene, you're on the bed, you're very distraught.”

And I was like, “Wait a minute, whoa, what?  I have to go to that place?” He's like, “Yes, darling, but lunch is in 20 minutes, so please hurry,” and I was like, “All right, one more time,” and you just had to be in a constant state of being available.

The humor came at the end of the day when I would say something hateful to Stephen (Daldry) just to sort of bring the levity back in, and I was very angry. It was a heavy set, but it wasn't depressing.  It was very concentrated.  Everyone had a task, and everyone was very committed, and everyone took it very seriously.  I'd never quite been on a set like that before.

But there was levity at the end of the day, yeah, definitely.

Q2: Tell us about the chemistry working with Tom Hanks and Thomas Horn.

Bullock: The chemistry with the Toms? Young Thomas Horn, all you have to do is just look at those eyes and look at that young man, that child, that beauty. I wanted to hug him all the time, but Stephen made me stay away. It was hard during the scenes when he was distraught to not want to love on him and give him comfort. It was hard. He was such a professional; I had such a tremendous amount of admiration. You can teach that child nothing, because he knows more than we do put together.  

Tom Hanks is the guy you want him to be when you meet Tom Hanks and more. His commitment as an actor, a human being, a father, a husband; I admired him and really liked him before. I adore him, and just I can't say enough about him.

His work ethic, his ease, his kindness, I thank God there are "Tom Hankses" in this business. He deserves everything he has, every accolade, every Academy Award.  He deserves more. He's an amazing man.

[Image of actress Sandra Bullock]

Q3: Is the world a scarier place post-9/11, or are these the good old days?

Bullock: I think because of media and availability of the images, of the horrors of war, I think we're forever changed. I don't think it'll ever feel like the good old days again, because we can't hide it. We can't pretend like, “Oh, this is going on overseas, and this doesn't affect us here at home,” because, with every image and every action being readily available, it is there every single day.

I think, in a good way, we are meant to know the sacrifices that people make. We are meant to know that there are people suffering.  In that way, it creates awareness, it creates a sense of fear, but I think the world's always been this way. We've just been able to hide in the good old days, because we didn’t see it. It wasn't in our face. I don’t think it'll ever go back.

But you make every day a great day. It's not going to be a chunk of time. You just have to face every day. Maybe this will push people towards a kinder, gentler way of life, because we are confronted with it every day. You’d like to hope.

Actor Max Von Sydow speaks...

Q4: Your relationship with young Oskar, in spite of being unable to communicate in traditional ways, is beautiful to behold. Tell me about the chemistry of working with Thomas.

Von Sydow: Well, Thomas, as I'm sure you already have seen, is a very intelligent young man with very open eyes and open ears, and he listens and he watches and he registers, and he makes his own decisions. When I first met him, it was before the production had started. He had no experience at all in acting, not at all. I came here to do some makeup tests and costumes etc., and Stephen Daldry had us together to just read some scenes, and he read it [as if] he didn’t know what to do.

But then, when we came back, when he already had to have been working, I think, for a month or a month and a half, he was already a professional. Amazing, amazing. I haven't given him any advice, because he didn't need any.

[Image of actor Max Von Sydow]

Q5: It looked as if you might've had some fun going out there and shooting some of those scenes. In spite of the heavy subject matter, were there some lighter moments that you enjoyed?

Von Sydow: Oh, yes, many lighter moments, absolutely, because it is an absurd expedition in a way, that they're out to find this mysterious lock that he can open with his key. The situations with this little young man who kind of commands this elderly gentleman to do all kinds of things, and not to do things, and follow his regiment, that is wonderful, I think.

Q6: There's a great mystery for those of us who watch great performances about how an actor achieves that, and yet, you never seem to have a false moment.  Everything that we see from you seems to be completely genuine. Speaking to a layman, is that a natural gift, is it years of study? Where does your gift for conveying that come from?

Von Sydow: I don’t know. I've been acting for many years, and I started out as a theater actor in Sweden. When I decided to try to become an actor, I applied to the acting academy in Stockholm at the Royal Theater  and I was lucky, I was accepted, and stayed there for three years.

And then I acted at the Royal Theater and at municipal theaters in Sweden for I don’t know how many years now, and that was a wonderful school, because, particularly at the municipal theaters, the companies are rather small and most of the times, rather young. You do something new almost every month and anything, classics, modern, comedies, tragedies, whatever and dramas from all over the world.

It's been my school, and the film acting is something else in a way. Film actors don't create films. It's the directors; it's the director who creates the film. Well, sometimes, we have major parts, but, sometimes we don't.  We arrive and do something for two days or three days. And we don't meet together, we don’t know who is doing what. In the theater, you are all together all the time, and you rehearse together all the time. In films, maybe you never rehearse anything. It's a camera. You just, “Well, what are we going to do at this location?  Now, a little more on the right there, thank you and then camera,” and you do it, and that's it.

It's the director who creates the film.

[Image of Max Von Sydow, and Thomas Horn]

Director Stephen Daldry speaks...

Q7: This is not a movie about 9/11, but 9/11 is a part of the story and still a sensitive topic. How concerned were you that people would see it as a 9/11 movie?

Daldry: I think it's a movie about 9/11.

Q8: Do you? To us it was part of the story, and people are scared of that. It's still raw enough. So how do you tell people to come see this movie without being scared of the emotional toll?

Daldry: Well, I think that everybody's got to make up their own minds about it. I think that it's a movie about loss. It's a movie about catastrophic loss; catastrophic loss of 9/11. Loss is something that we all share, something that everybody comes into contact with at some point during their life, hopefully not in such an extreme version as this; the terrible circumstances that are the basis of this story.

Everybody went through something that day wherever they were, whether you were downtown or whether you were miles away in different countries. We all have our 9/11 stories. There is something about wanting to still talk about it. For some people, the time will never be right, it's not right now to have those stories told; but I think their stories will be told and should be told.  I think it was an event that changed the world and changes everybody in the world. In this particular story, it's a story about people who are catastrophically involved in that terrible day.

[Image of director Stephen Daldry]

Q9: Your ensemble of actors is extraordinary from the youngest to the oldest. Tell me about assembling this great mix of talent.

Daldry: I think we were blessed with Eric Roth’s script, so that everybody that we sent the script to said yes. I think people wanted to be a part of it because of wanting to be involved in one of the first films about 9/11 and feeling that that's an important story to be told. I think with the actors I was blessed because, literally, everybody I asked said yes.

But I think that's really down to the strength of Jonathan (Safran Foer)'s book and the strength of the script that Eric (Roth) wrote from it.

Q10: With all these heavy emotional moments throughout, I'd like to think that you still managed to have a good time in the production process. Were there lighter moments, or how did you decompress from a particularly intense day of shooting?

Daldry: I was blessed in having Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock as Mom and Dad, and Tom and Sandy are consummate professionals. As well as being just brilliant actors, they're also incredibly warm, generous human beings, and so we could go through difficult scenes and difficult days or even difficult weeks emotionally.

That would take the toll, not just on the actors, but it would take the toll on the crew, many of whom were directly involved in the issues and the circumstances of 9/11. Having Tom and Sandy around allowed us to find a place that we could actually celebrate what we were doing and actually find the lighter moments in the day, as well as investigating the terrible moments.

[Watch the trailer for EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE!]

The Blu-ray and DVD for EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE will be available in stores from 24 May!

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