The Hollywood legend says that the eerie comedy superstar WC Fields had one guiding role for all his films: “Never work with animals or children.” With respect to Fields, but Joaquin Phoenix – who shares the screen with 11-year-old Woody Norman in the acclaimed new drama, come on come on – would disagree. “Our old friend WC never worked with Woody,” Phoenix tells Yahoo Entertainment with a laugh. “He was the spotlight of our lives [during production] and becomes the focus of the film, and we encouraged that f ******. “
Written and directed by Mike Mills, come on come on is Phoenix’s first star ride since the actor’s Oscar-winning performance in Todd Phillips’ divisive DC Comics adaptation, Joker. And in terms of looks and personality, his hangdog public radio journalist, Johnny, is not even in the same zip code as the skinny, emotionally disturbed Arthur Fleck. Johnny’s main beat is to talk to children about their hopes, dreams and fears for the future, but he leads a childless single life when the microphones are off.
That changes when his sister, Viv (Gaby Hoffman), needs to look after her bipolar husband (Scooter McNairy), and asks Johnny to keep an eye on his nephew, Jesse (Norman) – an early child he does not have seen many in person. hours with. Unable to take the time away from work, he ends up taking Jesse on the road and gets a crash course in what it means to look after a child.
Mills was inspired to write come on come on based on his own experience as a father. (He shares a young son with his wife, filmmaker Miranda July.) “The only reason I was able to make this film is because of all the gifts my child gave me,” says the author / director. “I would write about all the time I spent as a father and the stage of being with a young person – trying to give them full respect and not treat them as sweet or sweet or anything like that. You want to treat them as a full being and all the challenges, vulnerabilities and love that they give back to you. ”
Phoenix welcomed his own son – reportedly named after his late brother, River Phoenix – with his partner, Rooney Mara, just before the production of the film began. The actor refuses to discuss that side of his life, but he is willing to reflect on his own experience as a child star in the 1980s, and how it informed both about his relationship with Norman on and off screen.
Phoenix’s earliest roles were guest appearances on such epoch-making television shows Hill Street Blues and The drop guy, before I graduated for high concept feature films like SpaceCamp, the Russians and Parenting. (He was credited as “Leaf Phoenix” during that period of his career, returning to his birth name with Gus Van Sant’s Dark Comedy of 1995, To die for.)
“I remember talking to Mike and just saying how lucky Woody was to have this as one of his early experiences making movies,” Phoenix now says. “I remember witnessing this one moment when Woody saw a new side of Jesse in a certain scene. It was something that was familiar to me: I remember I had similar moments when I was around that age, and it was incredible for me to witness someone else have that experience because it’s something I’ve been chasing ever since. “
“The truth is, when you make so many movies, there are inevitably times when inspiration can wane,” Phoenix continues. “When I worked with Woody, I was constantly reminded of what I love about acting. Every day was lively and different; you did not know what to expect in the best way.”
While Mills knows about Phoenix’s own child star past, he admits it SpaceCamp and the Russians walked past him when he was in his 80s as a teenager going on multiplex. “My film production has always been so pretentious that I have not seen many of those films,” he says, laughing. “What I liked about doing come on come on is to insert a child into a naturalistic adult film. It’s exciting for me and I felt really sure I was going to an interesting place. “
As Mills recalls, the biggest challenge of the production was finding a child who could deliver the kind of naturalistic performance he was looking for. “Joaquin was always the person I wanted for the role of Johnny, and we were both like, ‘Who the hell is going to play Jesse?'” If we could not find someone we really believed in, then we would not have a movie. ” This led to several casting sessions where Phoenix would “hang out” with different kids, play parts of the script, or just play for the camera.
“Woody jumped right out [of that group]”, says Mills.” He was a kid with comic timing, and they felt like two strong souls and two smart people to me. One of the important themes in the film is that they are similar to each other, and not just because of the genetic stuff. Their souls have a similarity, and I bought it when I saw the picture of Joaquin and Woody together. ”
come on come on premieres November 19 in theaters
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