The Double Interview
The Double Interview
Jesse, at what point did you come on board the project?

Jesse Eisenberg

About a year before filming, I had met Richard and seen his movie [Submarine] that was a few about a few months before I had seen the script. When I read it I loved it, and from then on it was just a matter of waiting for it to happen.
The concept of existence being based on how you are perceived by others is fascinating. Was that part of the appeal of the screenplay?

Richard Ayoade

That idea is very strong in the book, that some people can be so invisible and unremarkable that if someone else showed up they could replace them and no one would notice. Further to that, it is pointed out that no one is bothered. There is an extent to which that if people don't recognise your sense of identity, it can just go. In a way, the otherside of it is the idea that the bits of you that you are unable to accept, the qualities, or deficiencies, that kind of Jungian shadow, partially what is interesting is how people kind of divide themselves willingly because they aren't willing to accept any bad impulses within themselves.

The reason these things are happening is that the world is against me, rather than accepting responsibility, or anyone accepting that they could be the cause of it. So, you know, not being able to accept that could lead to a schism or crack-up in you. We were saying, there is a cliché situation where a celebrity isn't allowed into a club, and hearing someone say, 'Don't you know who I am?' Whereas the reality is if that person on the door doesn't know who you are, you are not that person; you are some dude trying to get into a bar. It doesn't matter if you are Henry Cavil or not, because if you aren't recognized you are just an ostensibly handsome man trying to get into a bar. That is interesting and a funny situation to me as well.
There are the moments in the film that are reminiscent of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Was that a starting point for those bits?

Richard Ayoade

Not really, I just like it in films when people are watching things. Films can feel like peculiar ghettos where no one reads or watches things. You don't really want people to watch something from the real world, like Neighbours or something. I always liked how in Twin Peak's they watched Invitation to Love, and they make the world more immersive. Also, it was always going to be silly and funny because Paddy [Considine] was in it.
And you're working with Noah Taylor again ...

Richard Ayoade

He was in Submarine, and I really like him as an actor. I saw him The Year My Voice Broke and Flirting, and he is just one of those great actors where, if there is a part he would be suited for and you are lucky if he is free to do it, of course you cast him. It felt that it would be very easy to go against type. So often in films, the best friend character is overweight. I thought it might be fun to make Noah (Taylor) the sort of person who could be Simon if he stayed in the same place for another 20 years. I like the idea of the best-friend being even skinnier, you know, in striking in a Nick Cave way.
Jesse, have you seen any of Noah Taylor's work?

Jesse Eisenberg

I have been a fan of his work for a long time. I accidently saw a series of movies in a weird scenario. He is such a unique presence, and you are sure that he knows he is funny, but he doesn't show any outside signs of knowing that are being funny. He is also a person who is very funny but never laughs at himself. It made scenes hard because I would laugh at him, and my sense of embarrassment would be heightened by his lack of acknowledgment.

Richard Ayoade

I find it hard to watch him sometimes because I know if I watch him I will screw the scene up by laughing from behind the camera. He is really funny but not in a way that is indicating a joke. When he is talking it is always really right, so when I was talking to him, he said, 'I have grown a really thick moustache for the role, will that work?' and I said, 'Yep, that will be great.'
How did you come to cast Mia Wasikowska?

Richard Ayoade

She is just great really, everyone wants to cast Mia. I had seen her in a couple of things and once we thought that she would be right I watched more. I noticed how in everything she does she is so unique and different. I knew how well she would do stuff and what the scenes are meant to be doing and what her part is for. It is a difficult role because the film is all from Simon's point of view, and that also made it hard for the other actors. In some ways they don't get their own individual arcs, or get to show what they are really like, we only see them through Simon, and he doesn't perceive things correctly.

Lots of actors could see this as roles where their characters aren't rich, or multi-dimensional enough. I always felt that Cybil Shepherd's part in Taxi Driver is a really hard part because you could dismiss it as dream girl, but actually is done incredibly well. You have to build that life privately and bring it to rehearsal in the knowledge that it is going to be seen from one person's perspective. It is a selfless thing to go into, which is hard for a lot of actors, but not for Mia.
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Content updated: 17/11/2018 00:22

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