I am just loving all these fantastic interviews, this interview with David from The Film Stage is such a great read. Have included some excerpts below & you can read the entire interview by clicking on the link.
The Film Stage: Congrats on the movie.
David Michôd: Thank you very much.
I’m curious, how important was it for you to stay in Australia for your sophomore feature? I’m sure you probably got offers to go elsewhere.
I mean, I don’t know it was necessarily important specifically in Australia. What was most important to me was that I feel A) that the movie was of my own making, something that I had built myself from the ground up and B) that I could control it. On both of those fronts, I had been working on The Rover for awhile already and it seemed to fill both of those. In the couple of years after Animal Kingdom I did a lot of looking at what my options were and there were quite a number of different options available to me. But the more looking at those options and thinking about the things, the more it felt important to me that make a second film that felt entirely of me rather than surrendering myself to someone else’s machine.
I really like the setting of this film. There’s a lot of little ideas that you place throughout the movie, but nothing’s over-explained. It’s a great balance and it feels very believable. Can you talk about finding that balance and if you perhaps started with more on the page and then you pared it back?
No, there was never necessarily any more on the page. For me, the challenge was always trying to find the balance of making clear the specificity of the world and the time and not getting bogged down in exposition. I always like the idea, to me far more powerful than showing people explicitly what the nature of the world is giving an audience enough information to fuel their imagination. In a way, for me, the most powerful example of that is the first shot of the movie. Coming after a card that say, “10 years after the collapse” and then just showing a blank landscape to the horizon in the first shot. My hope was always that the power of an audience’s imagination, whatever they were imagining over that horizon would be more powerful than anything I could show them anyway.
Obviously, the risk in being relatively non-specific is that you… I’ve had to answer a lot of questions in the last week about the quote unquote post-apocalyptic nature of the movie. I’ve found myself a lot trying to explain to people that the movie isn’t post-apocalypse, you know. I very deliberately didn’t want it to be post-apocalypse. I didn’t want it to feel like whatever landscape these characters were wandering through was the product of an asteroid or some kind of nuclear holocaust. I wanted it to feel far more real and a product of the forces of evil that are at work around us to.
Getting to the casting, Guy Pearce is just so fantastic in this movie. Every glance he has, he conveys so much. I’m curious since Robert Pattinson is such a great counterpart to that. It definitely feels like in the last few years he’s trying to segue into more films like this. When you met him and what he brought to the table, how much was on the page versus the many nuances he brings to his character? What was the process like of casting him?
One of the things I liked about Rob, right from the outset — other than meeting him and just finding him beguiling and fascinating — was that when he came to test for me, he came both with a really beautifully considered and specific reading of the character, but also a full understanding that on the page, the character can be played a hundred different ways. So straight away that said to me that I had in him a collaborator who would help me find the character. I talk about the fact that I kind of tested him over two days for something close to four hours, but I sort of knew that I wanted him in the first five minutes. The other three hours and fifty minutes were him and I exploring the character. He had a lot to contribute on that front.
When he came to Australia about two weeks before we started shooting we had lots of conversation about things that were seemingly cosmetic. Hair cuts and wardrobes say a lot about the character and the character’s backstory and the character’s sense of the world and he had lots of things to say on that front. He was the one who initially agitated to have his monkey haircut. That rationale for it, in a way, was that this was the point of his character. Unlike Guy, this is a kid who still feels like there’s something out there for him and his monkey haircut is his delusional way of styling himself on the off chance that there’s a kind of pretty girl in the next town that he might fall in love with.