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The Family - Dianna Agron interview

The Family

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DIANNA Agron talks about some of her experiences of making The Family with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in Normandy and Paris.

She also talks about attending a cattle market with an unrecognised Tommy Lee Jones, learning from her experience and the kind of actress she’d like to become. She was speaking at a UK press conference.

Q. How did you go about researching your roles?
Dianna Agron: It’s a dark comedy and this is something that Luc [Besson] does very well. And so, like Bob and Michelle says, it was on the page, it came with his direction and I think that because it’s a little bit more fun… it’s not a serious, in-depth study of what it would be like, so it just gave us room to play.

Q. You’re on set with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro. Do you still pinch yourself and have trouble getting your head around it? Or is it all in a day’s work for you?
Dianna Agron: Um, no. It’s definitely mind-boggling. It was about a month and a half before that I found out that I had the movie for sure. And over the course of time everybody had had confirmed that they were participating, so you could be walking down the street thinking “I really hope I get this” while still trying to go about your day. So, just the fact that we had that experience and we’re sitting here a year later – you never get over it. It’s very cool.

Q. Was it a good experience?
Dianna Agron: Yes. The greatest thing about [director] Luc is that he sets up such a beautiful environment to film. Doing a location film can be exceptionally exhilarating because… like for this we were in Paris and in Normandy, two beautiful places, so you can miss home and everything but it’s a great unifier because you’re not at home, you don’t have chores, there’s no dog calling at you… all of these things. So, you can really make the most of it.

Q. Did you notice that Robert or Michelle did anything to help put you at ease, to counter any intimidation you may have been feeling?
Dianna Agron: They’re just lovely people. I think the main thing is that everyone wants to do a good job and to make it believable and that involves speaking to each other – not just in the scene. That would be quite awkward. I have heard of instances where people are asked not to talk to someone or look them in the eye, or not wear purple… things like that.

Q. When you’re shooting abroad did you have time to visit the local area and be a bit of a tourist? Or is it strictly work?
Dianna Agron: I went to a livestock fair with Tommy Lee Jones, which was one of the most comical things that has ever happened to me in my life. One, they don’t know who Tommy Lee Jones is in Normandy, so Tommy is having the time of his life because he is very much a cowboy. So, he was in his element. You also feel that Normandy is very untouched. It’s just people walking around town as we were filming or slowly peaking their head out the window looking at you as if you’re an alien, whereas in LA people are like: “Film crew! Great! There’s going to be traffic!” But there was this strange interaction between us and the locals. People speak English in Normandy but it’s not like Paris. So, we were checking out a livestock fair and there were smoke plumes in the corner and huge tractors for sale and the most enormous rabbits you’ve ever seen. I tried thinking of ways I could bring some of those animals home but it wasn’t going to happen. It was quite fun.

Q. Would you say you learnt any particular lessons from working with Robert and Michelle that you’ll take with you?
Dianna Agron: Wow. I will say that it’s very different now, only from observation, than… I think that both of them have made such wonderful choices with the characters they’ve played in such interesting movies. Obviously, I’ve seen so many of their films. So, my learning experience was through watching them create a new character in front of me and then thinking about the things they’ve done in the past. And then I think as far as my career goes, I’m not afraid not to work. I think it can be maybe my greatest strength and maybe a weakness. But I feel a lot of people want to work back to back to back in the fear that it’s going to go away. But I think that if I’m going to try and honour what I’ve seen Michelle and Bob do, it’s to make smart choices and make things that you really believe in, because that’s when you’re having the most fun. If you just try to force it, you’re going to probably only like half of your work.

Q. How long were you filming on location and how did you cope with being away from friends and family?
Dianna Agron: I think I was gone the longest. It was kind of great for me because I’d just come off of doing the previous season of Glee. So, I went from going on a vacation in Italy to going to France. It was very glamorous. And then I was there for three months, I think. But that being said, I don’t have my own family and I didn’t have anything pulling my heartstrings back home – I mean, obviously your friends and your family but no children or things like that. So, it definitely was good for me to be gone for a bit. But you also have to do a really great job of keeping in touch with everybody because otherwise you get back and they’re like: “Who are you being in France and Italy trying to be fancy!?” [Laughs] So, it’s good. It really strengthens your communication through things like email and stuff like that. I tried to be good and send a few letters, which I think is really a dying thing these days, but you have to be good at it and you have to work at it – Skype and things like that.

Q. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had – and the worst?
Dianna Agron: We’re so lucky that we get to travel to all these places, so you really get a favourite place everywhere you go. I don’t think… it’s really hard to narrow it down to one. But I just think that the more you travel, the more you realise the specialities of different places and local produce and what that means.

Read our review of The Family

Read our interview with Michelle Pfeiffer