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Made of Honour - Paul Weiland interview

Paul Weiland directs Made of Honour

Interview by Rob Carnevale

BRITISH director Paul Weiland talks about working with Patrick Dempsey on romantic comedy Made of Honour and why Sixty Six clinched the job for him…

Q. Do you think the success of Sixty Six enabled you to get the job of directing this movie?
Paul Weiland: I think that it was really odd because Sixty Six wasn’t out yet, or it was just coming… But what happened was Neil Moritz, the producer, and his partner, were in town and they were looking for a director. I think they’d seen like 46 and I think Patrick was being a bit difficult because he didn’t really like anyone. But suddenly they chose me based on the rough cut version they saw on DVD, which then went to Sony [the distributor of Made of Honour] and then to Patrick. But [Sixty Six] wasn’t even finished. I think Patrick liked the idea of a Working Title director who could bring a slightly European sensibility. He didn’t want it to be a kind of in-your-face, bright, American romantic comedy. It’s funny, though, the script did change a heck of a lot. The first call I got was: “If you want to do this job, make sure you don’t change a word of the script.” And we changed the whole thing. It was funny.

Q. Did you know that Patrick Dempsey could juggle? It must have been a bit of a gift on the day?
Paul Weiland: Yeah it was. Basically, I did that scene on the day. It wasn’t scripted. Before I worked with him I’d read somewhere that he’d started off his life as a juggler, so we were doing this scene and I thought I needed to liven it up slightly and I said: “Would you juggle the plates?” So, he had a go and started doing it and he was perfect. Everyone was amazed. So I said: “Alright, let’s do a take…” And as we did that, of course, he dropped all the plates, which got a huge laugh.

Q. Talk about the kilt…
Paul Weiland: That’s quite cute, isn’t it? Do you think it was short enough? Again, Patrick is amazing because you look at him and he’s very handsome, gorgeous and suave, so it’s always nice to push him in a direction that people don’t expect to see him… compromised.

Q. How was Patrick on the horse? Was that for real?
Paul Weiland: Well, when it came to it we knew that Patrick had been having a few lessons and he was looking really confident. He’s actually a very brave guy… he races cars, so he’s quite a lunatic. But he got on this horse and was looking quite good when suddenly a sound went off in the background, the horse panicked and, “boom”, Patrick was off the back! And that was our first take! I was like: “But I’ve got to get the shot…” And the producer was telling me that I couldn’t put him back on the horse. But he did and we got just enough stuff.

Q. It’s a very different performance from McDreamy as well, isn’t it? Was that deliberate on your part?
Paul Weiland: Well, I think his audience see him in that way but he is a good actor and a good comic. His comedy sense was fantastic, and his timing and his movement, so he was great to work with. But he does look kind of dreamy in some of the scenes, he is the romantic lead, but he’s just got the ability to be funny as well.

Q. Which did you find easier, the New York locations or the Scottish ones?
Paul Weiland: Well, because of Patrick’s time – they get this hiatus – we had a set period of time, so we worked solidly for 26 days. We were in LA shooting New York for LA, and then we were in New York doing a bit of exterior stuff to make it look totally gorgeous and then we went to Scotland followed by London and Oxford, so it was all over the place really. It was quite a heavy schedule.

Q. And was there a fear that with some like Sydney Pollack in the cast, if you screwed up, you’d gone?
Paul Weiland: [Laughs] Well, you know Sydney was a walk in the park [laughs]. No, to be honest, I was really nervous. And then what happened is, I like to do a few takes, and he pulled me over after one scene and said: “It’s really funny Paul, because I always use the first take…” And I was like: “Really, Sydney, because I always use the last one.” But I think you move, and you push it. I don’t really like doing rehearsals because you lose the spontaneity and I think things get better, because you try things and add little bits. I think that’s what you’ve got to do with a film like this because you want it to be fun and you’re not going to change the world with a film like this, but you just want people to have a nice ride for that 90 minutes or whatever.

Read our review of Made of Honour