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Fool's Gold - Andy Tennant interview

Fool's Gold

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DIRECTOR Andy Tennant discusses the motivations behind making Fool’s Gold, working with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, and why romantic comedies always appeal to him…

Q. How was working with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson?
Andy Tennant: A nightmare! [Laughs] No, we had a good time. I think the whole point is whenever you do any movie it’s six months away from your family, away from your friends, away from your house. It’s like creating a dinner party that has to last six months. So you want people who are going to be fun, work hard and play hard. With these two, it was so easy, and most of my job was to stay out of the way because they had done it before [ in How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days], and they do have that chemistry. They know what they do and that just made it so much easier for me to deal with some of the logistical problems that we had.

Q. Did that include working on water for a lot of the time?
Andy Tennant: The truth is that we were scheduled to be on the water for two months, or three months, and you schedule all the water work first and then you go do some other stuff. But we were off the water when we said we’d be off the water. And then when we went back to the water to do some of this other stuff that’s when the Irukandji [jellyfish] came into our lives… and never left!

Q. Has Scottish actor Ewen Bremner dived before, and why cast him as a Ukrainian? Apparently, he’s afraid of nothing?
Andy Tennant: [Laughs] It’s true that he is afraid of nothing. What was interesting was when Ewen came in, he asked if he could do it in his own dialect first, as a Scotsman. He did and it was wonderful. We didn’t care that it was written as a Ukrainian, but then the actor in him said he did think it needed to be Ukrainian. And then he did it with the accent that he has in the movie. But he’d done a whole background on that character. So, it was actually Ewen’s choice to play him as a Ukrainian because he could certainly have played it as himself.

The other thing is he’s very stealth in his approach to everything. You don’t quite know where he is but then you look around and he’s like Radar from MASH. You go: “Where’s Ewan?” And he’s right there, he’s ready to go and ready to play. He loved the diving too.

Q. How comfortable was Ray Winstone with his American accent?
Andy Tennant: [Laughs] It depended on the day. But he’s a force of nature. When there was a rumour that Ray Winstone was possibly going to do the movie they said I had to get on the phone with him. I thought, okay, I’d just seen Sexy Beast, I would talk to him. I was very nervous, I was in Australia with him and he said: “Where are you shooting?’” I said: “We’re going to be in Port Douglas…”

He said: “I love it, I’m there – have you been to the Iron Bar?” I said: “Yes!” And he said: “So, you’re going to be in Port Douglas for how long?” I said: “Months.” And he said: “I’m in!” Again, it was all about who was in it, what we were doing, and whether we were going to have fun. He was just fun. He makes it fun.

Q. What appealed to you about the Spanish history in the film?
Andy Tennant: Well, I learned to dive 25 years ago, and wanted to make an adventure comedy like Romancing The Stone. Warner Bros had a diving movie that had a little bit of treasure hunting in it, and the more I started researching the world of the Caribbean and the Spanish treasure fleets I found it really interesting. I also found that in any kind of treasure movie the problem is it’s a thing, it’s a big expensive thing that we’re all after at the end of a movie. It’s a big green thing or it’s a red thing, or diamonds. So I wanted the treasure to be only a by product of the fact that their shared passion was about the history of the treasure and that’s what really made them connect. And that in the end, when they’re looking at each other in the plane, the treasure is irrelevant, the real treasure is that they’ve salvaged their marriage.

Q. Why are romantic comedies so popular? And for you especially [after Hitch and Sweet Home Alabama]?
Andy Tennant: It’s anybody’s guess… but whether or not you like them or hate them, they are a staple of American cinema. For me, whether it’s Bringing Up Baby or The Philadelphia Story, I like movies about people. I like movies about relationships, and love is a wonderful problem we never solve. On Hitch I did a movie about being single in New York City. I’d pretty much said all I wanted to say about that. In this movie I wanted to say something about marriage, that it’s hard work and frustrating and you want to kill each other, but in the end the moment before you die it’s the most important thing in the world. I thought that was worth spending a couple of years on, and if we could make people laugh and you could make them at least look at the person next to them and say: “Yeah, you’re okay, I think I’ll stick around.” Then great. I like these kind of movies.