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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

KIRSTEN Dunst shot to stardom as Mary-Jane in the blockbuster Spider-Man.

Mark Ruffalo is best-known for his independent film work, including You Can Count on Me and In the Cut, with Meg Ryan.

In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the two actors play an unlikely couple. Mary is the receptionist at Lacuna – a mysterious clinic that helps patients erase memories.

Stan is one of the technical staff who pull off this secretive process. And when he begins working on a comatose patient, Joel (Jim Carrey), while entertaining his girlfriend at the same time, much of the film’s comedic moments are born.

Q. How much fun was it to jump on the bed over Jim Carrey for days at a time?
MR.
It was fun. We started dancing with our clothes on, and eventually we took a lot of clothes off. But Michel didn’t use that.
KD. Jim was lying there the whole time, and, after a while, it just became like the movie, with guys hanging lights over him and he just stayed there until lunch!

Q. What kind of set was it?
KD:
Michel wore us down, but it was great. He followed us everywhere with the camera and we reached a point where we really didn’t care that he was there. We could be free to do whatever, so that made it funnier and I felt like I could give a better performance doing it that way, because it wasn’t so restricting, worrying about your mark and where to move and how to sound. You can be honest that way.
MR: He shot real wide, so that we would have a lot of freedom to do whatever we wanted. He kept urging me to take off Kirsten’s top! [laughs]

Q. What is special about being in a Charlie Kaufman script?
KD.
I read the script and thought this was one of the best things I’d ever read in my life. Every little character is filled out completely, and they all have their own journey, and that is probably why so many great actors want to be in his movies, because they have great ensemble casts and every role is so good in its own way. My role isn’t the biggest, but it has a great storyline and I was excited with my character’s journey in the film. Also, he writes real women’s roles, like they are human beings, and not a weird fantasy version of a Hollywood woman.

 

Q. Is there a lot of discussion about each scene?
MR.
There is always a parenthesis that you are working in. [French accent]: "Go over there and dance like you are trying too hard." And then he’ll let the camera roll and next thing we’re on the bed, and my butt is in Jim’s face! He was always giving you a ‘let’s try this’.

Q. What do you think about erasing someone from your memory?
MR.
You do anyway, because humans have good disassociating powers.
KD. I wouldn’t do it.

Q. Did the film make you think about how you put people out of your memory?
MR.
I don’t think this technology is far away. I think, in ten years, you’ll be able to go into memory and pick and choose.
KD: It does make you think about that stuff. We’re all changing the outside stuff, with plastic surgery, so it’s only a matter of time before the inside stuff gets changed!

Q. Do you avoid your own memories?
KD.
I’ve rehashed a lot of things. It’s hard to put things away, because they come out in other ways, so you’ve got to deal with them sometimes.
MR. I think even if you erased them, you’d find yourself in your life saying, ‘I can’t believe I’m in this situation again – maybe I should do something differently this time’!

Q. Kirsten, what did you think of your character?
KD.
She’s a young girl who admires this older man, the doctor she works for [Tom Wilkinson], and she has this fantasy about him, and thinks he is a genius, but then she’s also hanging out with this loser guy, Stan, so she is basically pretty lost. She is not the most centred girl, but she figures out a lot by the end of the film.

Q. Mark, what do you think of your character?
MR.
I thought he was a pretty decent fellow, and the whole reason I did the movie was the last scene with them, which I obviously can’t talk about.

Q. What did you think of working with each other?
KD.
I loved working with Mark; he’s spoilt me for other actors! I always lobby for Mark in every other movie I do now, and I just got him an audition for a Cameron Crowe movie I’m doing. He’s awesome. I wasn’t good at improvising, and I was scared and nervous, and Mark made me feel totally relaxed and great, so that I felt good about it. It’s good to be on the same team as the other actor, instead of some situations, where you feel someone is trying to ‘out act’ you!
MR. Kirsten is great and she was easy to work with and became a good friend. I’m a cheerleader, what can I say?

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