pingroof.com had the opportunity to speak with Ruby Sparks‘ star and writer Zoe Kazan, her co-star Paul Dano and the film’s directors and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Ruby Sparks is now playing.
Film Synopsis: Calvin (Dano) is a young novelist who achieved phenomenal success early in his career but is now struggling with his writing – as well as his romantic life. Finally, he makes a breakthrough and creates a character named Ruby who inspires him. When Calvin finds Ruby (Kazan), in the flesh, sitting on his couch about a week later, he is completely flabbergasted that his words have turned into a living, breathing person. This is Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ second feature film since ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’
Q: What inspired the story?
Zoe Kazan: I loved the myth of Pygmalion and I think I had thought about it a lot over the years and just wanted to have my own take on it and one day I woke and these characters were in my head.
Q: What was the writing process? How long did it take?
Zoe Kazan: I started it in the summer of 2009 and then I put it away for about 6 months and picked it up again in the spring of 2010.
Q: Did you write the script with Paul Dano in mind for the lead?
Zoe Kazan: I did, very early, in the first 5 pages of writing I showed it to Paul and he asked me if I was writing for us and I said that I was, but it hadn’t occurred to me until he said that and then once he said it, I couldn’t see anyone else in the part.
Q: What was it like reuniting with directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris?
Paul Dano: I have kept in touch with them, they are good friends, they are good people and also wonderful filmmakers, so we were so lucky that they signed on to do the film in the first place and it was just a really intimate and beautiful collaboration between the four of us and a really special and unique experience.
Q: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Paul Dano: Well, I suppose there were a few fun things: 1) When Ruby shows up, he thinks he’s going crazy and that’s always fun to cut loose a little bit and we do that. 2) Getting to fall in love with Zoe all over again was really fun and I guess it was just fun to make a movie that you care about so much.
Q: What attracted you to direct Ruby Sparks?
Valerie Faris: We worked on a number of projects over the last 6 years and this one just came together, all the elements kind of fell into place, and we loved the script, we loved Paul and Zoe. Fox searchlight wanted to make it, so it was the first time a project sort of had all the ducks in a row.
Q: What was it like collaborating with Zoe Kazan?
Valerie Faris: We hadn’t worked with her before, and we didnt audition her, we knew she was an amazing writer, we had seen her perform many times, but it was really, I think, probably the greatest surprise of the movie was to see Zoe take on the character of Ruby and not be Zoe, but bring that character to life partly because she wrote it she just knew the character, it was just so great to see it delivered how we imagined it, but also knowing that this is what she imagined, it helped that we worked together for nine months and that we were all really on the same page…I barely ever gave her a note, tiniest things, it was really what you hope for with actors that you don’t have to tell them much.
Q: What was it like reuniting with Paul Dano?
Valerie Faris: He’s just an amazing actor. I loved working with him the first time and I was excited to give him a more beefy and extended role cause he can do anything and he’s really fun, he loves a challenge and there were definitely some challenging parts in this movie and he was always concerned because he really loved this character and he was worried about the character at times being unlikable, so we always felt with Paul in command of that character it would be ok.
Q: How long was pre-production?
Valerie Faris: It was really 9 months of working on the script and then we had Fox Searchlight read it and they wanted to make it and then it was really 10 weeks of pre-production. It was very fast actually.
Q: Do you have a favorite scene in the film?
Valerie Faris: I have different scenes that I loved that are very different, but I guess one thing that gives me a lot of pleasure when I watch it is Harry and Calvin in the car together because that’s the moment when Harry has kind of bought into the idea that she’s real, I think the whole audience goes with the film. It’s always really fun for me to watch that scene and how the audience is. The brother, he’s such a great actor, I always really love that scene and it’s always fun because it gets a lot of laughs. I’m a little bit addicted to hearing the audience laugh. I love that.
Jonathan Dayton: There are certain scenes that I can’t really talk about because I dont want to give away the film, but I can tell you that the kind of hardest scene to watch, the one where he types her and makes her do all these things, that was really hard, it’s really hard and when we read the script we realized there were certain things in this movie that we had never seen in another movie–that scene is one of them and we were really excited to do it, we were a little scared to do it, you know, but we’re happy with the way it turned out and we hope people will go on the roller coaster ride of the movie.
Q: Do you have any other highlights from filming?
Valerie Faris: For us, it was really fun shooting in Los Angeles. It was primarily shot in the Los Feliz area and that’s where the house was, it was really fun to be able to drive through the streets and show L.A. Instead we’re used to having to hide L.A. It was fun to be able to get that sense of the palm trees in the sun and the parks and I really loved that, it was all really fun, sometimes my fond memories are maybe of the harder scenes because watching Zoe do the scene where he types her, it’s an intense scene, but one of my favorite moments was watching her put herself out there, put herself through that.
Q: What is it like collaborating with your wife Valerie Faris?
Jonathan Dayton: It’s so nice. The funny thing is when you work with your spouse the secret is doing something you love. We don’t get along when we don’t like the work we’re doing, so it makes us even more particular about what we take on, and so we loved this project so much, we loved the script, we loved Paul and Zoe, all out cast, so to finally be here where we can share it with people is incredible.
Q: What’s your process for co-directing a film?
Jonathan Dayton: We both do everything and we talk about it at home and kind of figure out what we want to do and then we arrive on set with one plan so we never argue on the set and that’s really key. And it’s funny because we have three kids and sometimes we’ll be arguing about some aspect of our job and our kids think we’re really mad at each other, but we’re just working it out, we’re not mad at all, just passionate.
Q: You started your career as music video directors. Any plans on returning to that?
Jonathan Dayton: I love doing music videos, we have worked with Janet Jackson, The Smashing Pumpkins, and the Red Hot Chili peppers and R.E.M. and The Ramones, but I kind of feel like I did that and it was fun to do it when MTV showed videos back in the day, but I kind of feel like films are where we want to be for a while…we were really lucky that our first film went so far and you know as we start this project now we’re just trying to enjoy every moment I don’t know where it will go and that’s kind of the fun of it, you just do what you love and see what happens.
The next project that you can catch Jonathan and Valerie directing is a pilot for HBO called The Landlord, written by comic book artist Dan Klaus.
The Peggy Siegal Company and Asahi hosted the NY screening of Fox Searchlight Pictures’ Ruby Sparks. Guests also drank Asahi beer at the after party held at The VAULT at Pfaff’s. Additional guests included Pepper Binkley (Stone), Neil Burger (filmmaker, Limitless), Brady Corbet (Simon Killers), Michael Stahl David (Jonah & the Whale), Mark Feurstein (Royal Pains), Ryan Fleck, Kristin Gore, Alistair Banks Griffin (Two Gates of Sleep), Randy Harrison (Queer As Folk), Alex Karpovsky (Girls), Adam Leon (filmmaker, Gimme the Loot), Carrie Maclemore (Damsels in Distress), Bennett Miller (filmmaker, Moneyball), Arden Myrin, Todd Oldham, Aleksa Palladino (Boardwalk Empire), Cynthia Rowley, Ben Shenkman (Royal Pains), Phillip Spaeth (Smash), Rebecca Thomas (filmmaker, Electrick Children), Savannah Wise (Smash) and Finn Wittrock (Death of a Salesman).
Runtime: 104 minutes Rated R
Regal Union Square Stadium 14
850 Broadway, New York, NY
10:30 11:40am 1:00 2:30 3:30 5:00 6:10 7:40 8:50 10:30pm
AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13
1998 Broadway, New York, NY
11:25am 2:10 4:50 7:35 10:25pm