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  M.   April 29, 2014

Transcriptions of Video Interviews with Gemma Arterton and Marjane Satrapi – Sundance London Film Festival (Source: my own ears)

Interview with Gemma Arterton

Can you tell us a little bit what it was about this project and this specific character that excited you and, of course, the treat of working with Mr. Ryan Reynolds?

“Oh my goodness. Let me think… First of all, I read this script quite blindly and it was a little bit different, but I liked the idea of playing a head in the fridge. Not to give away too much. But I loved the idea of doing that. Second of all, Marjane. Because I watched her movies before and I knew her animations. I think she’s a genius. And then Ryan came on board and when we worked together it was like, it was like a dream. It was just so easy. And it wasn’t an easy film to shoot because of the content, but it was made easy by him and a pleasure by him and by Marjane and by the rest of the cast who are top. And so it was so off-beat, not expected by anyone and that’s what I like in cinema, when you kind of challenge people’s perceptions. And you think that Ryan Reynolds is in the movie so it must mean like guns and stuff like that. But it doesn’t. It means this is a very touching and delicate portrayal of someone who’s mentally ill and that’s brilliant and funny. So that was all of those things, really. That’s the premise.”

Did the closing musical number give you a preparation for your next musical project?

“(Laughs) That was like the best day ever on set. I didn’t want it to end. I was so good. And, yeah, we had dance rehearsals, singing rehearsals. So, yeah, I guess it was like a musical in itself. I ran a mini musical of one song only. But it was great. I haven’t seen that yet. I’m so excited!”

Also, I’ve got Happy Song stuck in my head now. Thank you.

“So did we. For like two months. (Laughs) That song is so horribly catchy. “Sing a happy song, sing a happy song… (Laughs)”

“Without giving too much away, I’d say it’s about Jerry who has schizophrenia. But we see and he works in a toilet factory. And we see, but we see the world from his point of view. So when he’s on medication, everything is hunky dory, jackanory. Everything is like Disney movie, pink and shiny and pretty. And when he’s off his meds, we see it for the miserable and dismal place that it is. And he kind of gets all the voices in his life and, in his head, his animals talk to him and things like that. The pets that he lives with tell him to do some things. And he ends up committing a few murders. But it’s actually a really… it’s funny, it’s really really moving, very very dark and I think it’s brilliant. I’m really really proud of it. And Ryan’s amazing in it. And it’s a portrayal of… I hope that it’s a portrayal of the innocence of what a mental illness is, that you can commit murder, but it’s not be something that you decided to do.”

“Marjane was directing it and I loved her films and I think she’s got such a brilliant, brilliant voice and she’s just so daring. And also I loved the idea of a woman directing a horror movie because it sort of brings a different edge to violence. It’s not so violent. Even though it’s violent, we didn’t have to show all of that. And she has a different, a femininity to it. So… but the screenplay itself is very funny and very shocking and I loved it.”

The actress has admitted that she has a taste for all things strange: “Actually my DVD collection, you wouldn’t believe it. It’s like really dark and twisted. People see it and go ‘You’re not right in the head’. And this is the kind of film that I’d love, I’d go to see and I’d want to make if I was producer or director.”

“This is brilliant! It was the first time last year that I worked with female directors ever. And Marjane was the first. You know, ‘Oh my God. Finally someone that I can be really quite grotesque around’ and people don’t care, like they’re not going ‘that’s not very feminine’. I just loved it!”

“I have a cat called Spike who was wrongly named at birth. He should have been called Christopher because he’s absolutely, speaks like this (Gemma imitates her cat), very judgemental, very bitchy. Even today, when I was getting ready. But that’s him. And sometimes I feel so judged by him. ‘Oh no!’.”

She confessed: “I love all things bizarre and dark but I never ever get offered things like that.

“So I read it and thought, ‘This is the sort of thing that I love’. I thought it was so funny and very moving.

“And then when Ryan came on board I just thought ‘wow!’ Just watching him on set was like ‘wow!’

Interview with director Marjane Satrapi

The Voices has a unique premise. Can you just give us a quick synopsis what’s it’s all about?

“A quick synopsis for a director is very difficult. But I’d say this is a story of a guy that happens to be a schizophrenic man and he tried to be a nice man who an upstanding member of the community until an incident happens. And the whole thing changes. And one thing leads to the other. And he finds himself killing women and chopping them into pieces and putting them into the fridge. I think it’s a good synopsis. And, in the middle of that, he has his two animals, his cat who tries to push him to kill people and his dog who tries to convince him not, because he’s schizophrenic so he hears voices which is why the title of the movie is The Voices.”

Of course, at the heart of that story, you have Ryan Reynolds as your leading man. And I think it’s a very different side of him than fans are maybe used to seeing. And a particularly accomplished performance because he provides, of course, many of the voices that we do hear. Can you talk a little bit about working with Ryan and what you think he brings to the role of Jerry?

“I think that Ryan Reynolds is a Ferrari that’s driven like if it was, you know, like a city car. He’s a Ferrari. He can do anything. He’s a very very talented man and I think in each film you see just a side of him. And, really, I was astonished by his performance. You know it was not my idea. He loved the project. He said that he wanted to do it and I met him and the moment I met him I knew that he was the guy for the role. I really knew it right away, but, yeah, it came very naturally. You know, when you know the lead role, the moment you see him, you know that’s him. And he cannot be anybody else. That was him.”

Of course, around Ryan, you have a couple of fantastic leading ladies, Gemma and Anna. Can you talk a little bit about their characters and what they brought to the film?

“Well, they were great because, you know, I mean Anna she was supposed to be this young girl who was, you know, like more naive, a little bit art(s)y. And Gemma was supposed to be this English chick, you know, who’s like very open and talks and it was great. I mean, you know, like working with all these actors, Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver and all the second roles that most of them were actually British, it’s a gift for any(one) to have actors that you have something in mind and they take it and they put it much further than whatever you could imagine. So it’s a gift for a director. What to expect more? They carried the film.”

I’m curious how you managed those changes of pace that the film goes through.

“Well, this changing of pace is the changing of the mind of the protagonist of story, you know. I mean he’s a psychopath so, you know, sometimes he realizes this is the reality and sometimes he just, you know, escapes in the reality he has created for himself in order to live. So, you know, it’s the work of the actors, it’s my work to put all of that together, but it’s also the work of an editor. I have a very good editor, Stéphane Roche, who really cuts in the moment, so nothing would become too long or too short. So we always have this equilibrium. But it’s really the work of everyone at the same time.”

The film ends with a fantastic musical number, The O’Jays’ classic Happy Song. I’m curious about that choice because it seems so out of kind of kilt with some elements of the film, but it just seems to fit so perfectly…

“Well, Sing a Happy Song, you know, had one point, you know, when he’s in the field and he says ‘if God exists and He’s all knowing, He should be okay with me doing what I do’. And it’s a real question. If God exists, why all of that is the way it is. So if God exists and he’s full of forgiveness, then he ends up in paradise with everybody else. And I really needed, you know, I wanted people to get out of the room and feel happy, you know, to have a smile on their faces, despite whatever happened. And, at first O’Jays’ song, that was not the choice. We had another song that costed like fortunes, and then I listened to that I was like ‘What idea was I thinking? This is the perfect song’. You know, it has this rhythm that comes and, you know, once you have hearded it the first time, it doesn’t get out of your brain. And what’s saying is, you know, forget about your worries, just sing a happy song and that’s the end of the film. Forget about everything. Nice time to part it all together.”