Director Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska is nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. In his recent conversation with Terry Gross they discussed his short in the 2006 anthology film Paris Je t’aime. Terry asks the director about actress Margo Martindale’s emotional scene:
"You see in that clip that she has very ready access to emotion, and that’s what the great actors have and that’s why life is often so difficult for them because they can’t keep their emotions tamped down as you and I can. So then if you can put an oil pump on the spurting oil well of emotion, then you can be a professional actor.
And so I think we did 4 or 5 takes and she was equally good in all of them and it was just a matter of making sure the camera was right and the timing with the voiceover and so forth. But I clearly remember having 3 or 4 great takes to deal with. The good ones keep it going, it’s not just like oh, one take where they really hit that emotion—well, maybe, but let’s try it again. The cameraman missed it. The assistant cameraman made your eyes out of focus. We need to do it again.
Or, I remember telling Paul Giamatti in Sideways, he was really in a deep place and I had to say, “Okay, stop Paul. Could you please rotate your head 12 degrees to the left?” I mean, we all have to understand that film is technical as well as emotional.”
Fun extra: Here’s Payne on the Colbert Report
photo via salon credit: Merie W. Wallace