65 Actress Ariana Greenblatt Had To Learn All Of Her Dialogue In Two Languages [Exclusive]

Filmmakers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods like to play with language. Their screenplay for the acclaimed sci-fi horror film "A Quiet Place," is almost entirely without spoken dialogue and features a main cast of just four people. The duo's new film, "65," follows a similar route, pairing the hardened spaceship pilot Mills, played by Adam Driver, with the young Koa, played by Ariana Greenblatt, and pitting them against prehistoric dinosaurs. In an exclusive interview with /Film's BJ Colangelo, Beck and Woods stated that Greenblatt had to translate all of her memorized English dialogue into an alien language to create the dramatic communication gap between Mills and Koa.

Constructing a fictional language, or "conlanging" as it's called, for film is a more complicated affair than just spouting gibberish. Language consultants have to keep in mind the way the spoken sounds affect the perceptions of both the actors and the audience, which is why these made-up dialects have to strike a middle balance between alien and familiar. In "Avatar," for instance, the actors trained using phonetic charts and mp3 recordings in order to understand the proper pronunciation of the alien Na'vi language, even when presented with words they were unfamiliar with. In a case that falls more in line with the method used in "65," Emilia Clarke once performed an entire monologue in English before re-shooting the speech in improvised Valyrian for "Game of Thrones" using her knowledge of the fictional tongue.

Dialect and dinosaurs

According to Beck and Woods, they had Greenblatt first learn her lines in English in order for her to properly understand what she was saying on a basic level. The challenge then was translating those emotions over to a conlang:

"For Ariana with the script, we would write all the lines in English so she could identify with them and process them. Then our language expert, Felipe Machado, came in and designed a whole alien language that she would then have to learn. So she'd have to learn it twice: She'd learn it in English, and then she'd learn the alien version. I think that helped her performance as well, to know the meaning behind the lines."

It wasn't just her alien speech that Greenblatt had to rely on when communicating with her co-star. Body language and hand signals also played an important role in expression for both actors, in a dynamic that is similar to that in "A Quiet Place." It's a style that allows the directors to fully immerse their characters into the world of an ancient past, letting their audience experience the quiet awesomeness and helping make dinosaurs scary again.