Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Bryce, given your background, people might suppose
that this is something you were born to do – is that not
quite how it turned out? Have you come round a circuitous route
to starring in a big Box Office film?
A: You want me to talk about that? OK. So, you know,
my dad’s a filmmaker and my mom is a writer, and so it seemed
fairly reasonable to assume, as a child of those two, that I would
somehow participate in this industry, at least in a business or
a livelihood that depended upon the imagination.
My form of rebellion was to say ‘no’ and try anthropology
or law. Actually, I really gave it a good shot because I was frustrated
with all the assumptions.
My imagination has always been so much stronger to me than my
real life and, you know, that was a clear indication to most onlookers
that a life in the arts, or a life as an actor, would be appropriate.
But I actually only admitted it to myself when I was 17 or 18-years-old,
when I was nearly in adulthood.
And even then, I sort of made a little loophole for myself –
if I got into one school I’d try to be an actor, but it
was the one school that also had liberal arts education attached
to it, so I could double major. But, yes, now I’m an actor.
Q. Can you reveal a little bit about the secrecy surrounding
the project. Is it true that you were Fed-Ex’ing script
pages back after you had read them, etc...
A: It’s sort of funny that there is so much secrecy
on a project like this because it’s never come from Night.
He’s never said this is so precious, please keep it secret.
It comes more from me and other people who’d read the script,
who’d read it for the first time.
We wanted other people to experience the story as we’d experienced
it – freshly. It’s so unfortunate – scripts
are released on the internet quite often and it’s reviewed.
To me, that’s like if an artist has a blank canvas and a
bunch of pots of paint, and someone comes along and says ‘I
don’t like those colours’ – you haven’t
seen the painting for goodness’ sake.
So, I’m glad that there’s this amount of secrecy,
so people can form their own opinions of this art form that’s
become so popular. There was a bunch of Fed-Ex’ing of pages
back and forth, but that’s just because Fed-Ex is very efficient.
But Night, when he offered me this role, he said don’t give
it to the internet, but he never said don’t give it your
parents, or your agent ,or your managers. When I read it, I didn’t
want to ruin it for my family and for my friends.
Q. Bryce, this is your first feature film. Did you need
any reassurance to get you through shooting?
NIGHT: Heavy drug use.
BRYCE: Yeah, there was a lot of heroin. She jokes!
No, I wasn’t afraid because I don’t operate from a
place of fear, because that’s destructive and it would waste
time. I got this role in May, and we started filming in October
– I had a limited amount of time to prepare for this role.
If I spent any amount of time being insecure, or doubting my ability,
or being nervous, then that would have been disgraceful, especially
with the opportunity that I was given, and this tremendous role
that I was going to be allowed to play.
I just felt very excited. Also, Night had this insane amount of
faith in me – he cast me without auditioning me just after
watching me in a small play, in New York. It was my responsibility
to have at least an ounce of that amount of faith in myself.
Q. This small play was one
of Bill Shakespeare’s small plays, wasn’t it?
A It was a small theatre house. It was As You Like It.
Q. What’s next for you?
A: I just finished Lars Von Trier’s movie –
the second in his trilogy. The first was Dogville
and this one’s called Manderlay.
As for what I’ll do next, I don’t know. Honestly,
in many ways, I feel like I’m doomed because I had this
experience with Night, and then to follow that with a really quite
extraordinary experience, with Lars... I don’t know what
I’m going to do.
I’m screwed. I’m nervous about it – I think
about it every day because... the film making experience is very
satisfying and it can be with a lot of different film-makers.
I’m an actor – I like to play roles. But to work with
a director who is an angel, it’ll be hard to equal that.
Q. Bryce, how did you get into playing a blind girl?
Was there a lot of research?
A: Yeah. It was the first thing... actually, blindness
constitutes a very small part of Ivy, but it was the thing that
was most distant from reality.
I went to a place called the Lighthouse, in New York City –
it’s an institution where they aid people who are visually
The head of one department in the Lighthouse came up to me and
said ‘I hope you enjoy your time here’, and then she
walked away and she was holding a cane in her hand. I hadn’t
realised during our dialogue that she was blind. I’d never
seen that in a film before, so I thought that was something that
was very important – how do you play blindness when you’re
existing in an environment where there’s no longer a handicap,
where there’s no longer a disability, as in the case of
Ivy Walker, in The Village?
Then the instructors took me through the entire script and told
me how this girl would do what she does in this film. They said
it was all possible and she could, in fact, do even more. Then
I had to spend a large majority of every day blindfolded, because
after 90 minutes of wearing a blindfold, your brain starts rewiring
itself, so that was my rule – no less than 90 minutes.
There were a lot of things that went into it – watching
other performances, seeing what spoke to me, what moved me and
what didn’t. It was very, very important to me that I did
justice to that element of Ivy, because if the audience didn’t
believe it – if she was stumbling around too much –
it would have been a big problem.
Q. Have you received much advice from your father?
A: It’s unfortunate, because the small amount of
advice my father was giving me about this profession, i didn’t
take seriously when I should’ve. So now he’s stopped
giving me advice and I’ve tried explaining that he talked
to me when I was seven – I was an idiot.
The one thing I’ve learnt more from example, is that we
can have very long careers, and it can extend until the day we
die, and so there will be moments when you feel like you’re
experiencing failure, or disappointment, or perhaps, even worse,
that you’re disappointed in yourself.
What I’ve learned from my dad is that it doesn’t mean
you should stop – you should try even harder, push it even
further and, perhaps because of failure, you’re getting
even closer to the ultimate goal. It terrifies me, the position
I’m in now, but that’s a very good thing. That’s
what I’ve learned from him.