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Stranger Than Fiction - Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson interviews

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stranger Than Fiction

Compiled by Jack Foley

STRANGER Than Fiction stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson discuss their involvement in the film and working with director Marc Forster…


Q. What was it like working with Marc Forster?
A. He’s calmer than any director I’ve ever worked with and so open and curious about us and what we do, where we want to move, and what it is we’re thinking. If a scene sort of ends up coming together in a way that wasn’t the way he originally anticipated, it’s really no problem [for him] and he seems to be inspired by it.

I think that’s really important when you’re making a movie – that everyone is encouraged to collaborate because otherwise the movie’s only as good as its director. If the director is interested in what’s happening with everyone else, then the movie can be infinitely good. And I feel that so acutely with him.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
A. She doesn’t pay the portion of her taxes that will go to support the things she doesn’t believe in, and she does it expecting there will be a response. But she’s curious about what the response is and waits to see and goes with it. I think she’s open, I think she’s powerful and I really love her. I mean I think she’s kind of amazing.

Q. What was it like meeting Will’s character ?
A. When I first meet him he represents, to me, something abhorrent. You know, he’s this guy from the IRS coming in to audit me and call me out on this protest that I’ve sort of set up. So, I think I hate him on some level but I’m also playing with him right from the beginning. He’s like this fun thing to play with because it’s he seems so easy.

But actually, it wasn’t as easy as had anticipated because Harold is very shut and closed, so I’m sort of trying to play with him and find myself coming up against this brick wall, which makes him kind of interesting. I think he makes Ana really angry at first but she is also intrigued immediately. And because of that they sort of start a relationship that comes out of something hard and turns into something.


Q. Can you tell us a little about your character?
A. My character is called Karen Eiffel and she is a writer. She’s British and she’s suicidal. Quite a common trio of existence, I think, because we’re depressive by nature – writers, I mean, and British people! [Laughs] She’s also nihilistic in her ways and writes tragedies only in which people die, often in very unfair and unpleasant ways. It’s pointed out to her during the course of the story that of course she is killing herself, really, by proxy.

Q. What was working with Marc Forster like?
A. There are thousands and thousands of directors and very few filmmakers, and I’ve worked with a few, but Marc is definitely one of them. He’s a filmmaker and you know they know what they’re doing. They know the film before they come to the set, and they know the vision and you know that you’re part of that vision. So, you feel completely comfortable about giving them whatever they want because you know that when they go and edit it they’ll be making a film. They won’t be cutting it just to make the story.

Q. What appealed to you initially about taking the role?
A. I got sent the script and I read the first page and rang Lindsay and said I’ll do it, because it was clear from the get-go that it was a truly original voice. Also, every character spoke in a different way. I know that sounds basic but you’ll find that in 99 screenplays out of 100 everyone sounds the same, and it’s not good enough. Not enough attention is paid to dialogue and dialogue is everything, because it’s character.

Read our review of the film