the sisters brothers review

Wait, are you trying to say that guns make a difference in the cultural shifts of America? No way.

John: [laughs] Yeah, man. And the amount of bullets a gun can fire makes a big difference in what you can do with that gun. Then there’s this idea of being a killer. Our characters make an interesting transformation because their lives are borne of murder. When their boys, they have this traumatic event where they kill their father, and they’re pressed into service as murderers. For the most part when you read the book, you get the idea that they’re killing people who really deserve it. There were a lot of bad people out there, a lot of murderers, and they worked for a crime boss and they killed criminals. Then they start to realize, maybe they aren’t all criminals, these people they’re being told to kill. Then there’s the collateral damage, other people are being killed while they’re looking for people. The business of murder is a heavy one, and it starts to weight on them. That was an amazing thing to play, especially for my character, someone who, at the beginning of the story, is so shut down and living a really unrealized life, protecting his brother and killing and moving through it and not really thinking. To see that cocoon he’s in start to crack open and this other person start to emerge was a really fun thing to do.

His realizations about the fact that animals are also sentient beings and his relationship with his horse and his sensitivity shift. In the beginning, he treats the animal like a look, like a thing he just uses like a car or a hammer, and then as he gets into a relationship with the horse, it starts to change him. And there there is the relationship with these new people they meet. When Charlie and Eli catch up to Warm and Morris at the river, those are some of the first friendships they ever have, some of the first times they ever have conversations of any kind of intimacy with anyone other than each other. Charlie and Eli have spend every waking minute with each other since they were little boys. There are a lot of interesting firsts in the movie, which lead to moments of realizations that are fun to play. That’s what you’re looking for as an actor.

You and Joaquin both worked with Paul Thomas Anderson at different points in his development as an artist. Did you two get a chance to discuss that at all or spend any kind of time together before shooting to make that brotherly relationship more believable?

John: I met Joaquin a couple of time through Paul, but really just briefly. I’ll never forget the first time I met him, the screensaver on his phone was an photo from Step Brothers, and I was like “Oh cool. You probably like me, then.” But we didn’t really spend any time together then. Joaquin is a pretty shy person actually. It takes a second to get to know him. By the time we got to Spain, I realized that even though I was really excited and stoked to be working with him, I realized I didn’t really know this guy at all. In the beginning, it was hard for us to make eye contact because he’s so intense, and I’m intense in my own way. We were both freaked out by what we had to do and how close we had to get, so we just started hanging out together, walking around, spending long afternoons walking through these towns in Spain, not really talking, just soaking each other up through osmosis, riding horses together, learning to shoot those guns.

And lo and behold over time, we started to get really close. We started to live together, cooking for each other every night—when I say “cooking for each other,” I mean Joaquin cooking for me; he’s a much better cook than I am. That was an intense thing, getting to know him and finding a relationship that was anywhere close to the one our characters had. But by god, we did it! I really love that guy and I think I will for the rest of my life. It’s one of the beautiful things about being an actor. It’s different than being a plumber or something. You make these relationships that are short term but they’re really intense, and you end up learning a lot about yourself and becoming a deeper person as a result of some of these relationships.

stan and ollie first look

This film is the first of many we will see and hear you in over the next couple of months. The trailer for Stan & Ollie really moved me. I don’t even think I knew that was being made…

John: Yeah, we kind of snuck that one in under the radar. We shot it in England, so a lot of people weren’t aware of it here.

So what is you take on their story?

John: It’s a look at the twilight of their lives. Stan and Ollie were some of the biggest movie stars in the world for about five years in the 1930s. And they were totally connected and in sync, but they were very different people and they weren’t really friends. They didn’t spend a lot of social time together in the hey day. And then when they couldn’t get movie work anymore, they started doing these theatrical tours to make money. Basically, they went back to doing Vaudeville, and that’s when they became really, really close. When they’re spending every single train ride and hotel room and backstage together, they realized how much they loved each other as people and not just as performers. So our story takes place in 1953 on the last theatrical tour they every did. Oliver Hardy died shortly after that tour. It’s this amazing look at a theatrical marriage and what it takes to be a partner with somebody and what it takes to a loving friend and creative collaborator. Their lives were very public, but his is a glimpse at what it was like behind the scenes for these two guys. Bring your hankies, buddy, because it’s a pretty emotional one!

John, best of luck with this and all of the other things you have coming down the road. Thanks for talking.

John: Thanks a lot, man. I appreciate it.

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