"Enough Said" is the latest film from writer/director Nicole Holofcener, telling the tale of a massage therapist who finds herself in a precarious situation, inadvertently falling for the ex-husband of a friend of hers.
Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and co-starring Toni Collette and Catherine Keener, the film also marks the last on-screen performance by James Gandolfini.
Moviefone Canada attended a series of interviews during the Toronto International Film Festival where Collette, Keener, Louis-Dreyfus and Holofcener shared their thoughts on the film and their late co-star.
Moviefone: After his untimely passing, James Gandolfini has already achieved a kind of mythic status. As those that worked closely with him, can you tell us a bit about how he really was?
CK: Myths come from humanity and he was a very humane person. If someone should have someone blow him up that way, he's very deserving of it. It was good to be in his presence.
TC: He's very vulnerable, playing someone vulnerable. I'd not met him before, but I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet him and work with him. He's a sweetheart and he's incredibly generous on- and off-screen.
CK: I saw some "Sopranos." I don't know him from that, I knew him from "Where the Wild Things Are" first, and I had a different experience that feels personal even though it wasn't ... how he was in the space of the huge soundstage with all of these other people and his grace.
NH: I loved working with him.
This was an unusual role for him, do you know what he felt about it?
JLD: He felt very undeserving of it. Particularly in the beginning, he was questioning "Why am I playing this role? I'm not the guy who gets the girl!" He kept saying, "If you feel like calling Clooney and getting him in for this..." That made him even more perfect for the part. Actually, James is very close to who Albert is in terms of being this dear, self-effacing, kind-hearted, thoughtful, gentle man. That's who James was.
How far along in the project did you find out about his death?
NH: The movie was done. The sound wasn't done but the cutting was, and he came to do ADR [dialogue recording] just in time. I saw him two weeks before he died. Those were the only scenes he saw of the movie, and there weren't very many. I then had to do the sound mix and watch it over and over again and I was dreading it. It was horrible.
Did you get a sense of how he felt about it?
NH: Well, I remember I took pictures of him while he was doing ADR. I don't remember why. And one scene I think he had his head in his hands and he was pacing and he clearly didn't like watching himself. And then another scene he seemed to like, he wanted to watch a couple of times. I think it was very uncomfortable for him to play a sought-after leading man. It was uncomfortable for him to be that tender. Not uncomfortable, it came quite easily to him to be that tender and funny and sweet person, but he hadn't done a lot of that so I think he was anxious about it, and he had a funny way of working. He didn't even want to see me while he was acting. If I was in his eye line, or even if I'm shooting you and I'm over there, he could feel me. He'd be like "Nicole." And I couldn't leave the room, I was directing, so he felt very raw.
How did the script change once your final casting was settled?
NH: It didn't change that much. A little bit of alteration, but I did write it for an overweight man. If I didn't have Jim and had someone else who was bald or whatever, I would have tailored it to him. The line about his hands being paddles, that wasn't in the script, I didn't know who I was going to get. When I took one look at his hands, I wrote in him telling her she had nice hands just so she could say he had paddles and then bring them up again later in the car. So those are gifts that are not in the script, but turn out to be a big joke, a funny and wonderful part of their characters.
I did offer the part to Louis C.K. first. He didn't care whatsoever and I'm grateful. But I'd always wanted to work with Jim, and I met with him a couple of years ago on another movie and while he wasn't right for that particular part, I knew I wanted to work with him. He had been a fan of my movies, which just killed me. He said "Oh, I love 'Lovely and Amazing'" and I'm, like, "What!?" You never know who your fans are. I'm thinking, what's Tony Soprano doing watching 'Lovely and Amazing'?
He was no Tony Soprano, so I'm so happy. And it's so surreal that this movie is getting this kind of attention -- for a man that I knew only a short time. Why this one and why did this happen? It's just weird.
What drew all of you to working with Holofcener on this project?
JLD: First of all, I'm a big fan of her former work. I love all of the films that she's made, from the very beginning. Her voice, which is a very character-driven, quirky, raw, authentic, small-about-big things voice, that I love. It just speaks to me. Her work is kind. It's about understanding people, flawed people, with kind eyes. And I love that.
TC: Well, I hadn't had the experience of working with her. I just loved her films. And now having worked with her, she's pretty f--king awesome. She just creates this incredible atmosphere where you feel so free as an actor.
CK: It's not neurotic at all.
TC: No games, it's so relaxed. It's really unusual.
CK: I find if there's more money involved, it becomes more neurotic, but Nicole runs a set that's not. You feel that you can just be creative. You know what you're there for, which is to be stimulated and stimulate each other and it's just really easy. The quality is so good already that if you just show up and do your work and try to be present, it's bound to be great. She's just easy and ready.
What makes you laugh?
JLD: Oh, specific things make me laugh. "Monty Python" makes me laugh. But pulling back from that for a second, I would say that awkward, wince-y, shameful moments in human behaviour make me laugh very hard. Amy Poehler makes me laugh. She's a very close friend of mine. I love her show. Mary Tyler Moore makes me laugh. Lucille Ball makes me laugh. Larry Sanders made me laugh and it goes on from there. Marks Brothers make me laugh, Terri Garr made me laugh.
What writer/directors have inspired you, Nicole?
NH: Spike Jonze, his new movie ("Her") is incredible, it's not coming out for a few months. "Adaptation," Charlie Kaufman movies ... "Eternal Sunshine" is one of my favourite movies.
Growing up, I was in awe of Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen and Jim Jarmusch. In the '80s, that's what I learned in film school, was all of these guys who made me feel like I could do it, like "Sex, Lies and Videotape." I just sat there and watched that a couple of times without getting up and that made me feel like I could do it. Now I rarely get to the movies, but it's usually movies that are similar to mine, independent, character-driven movies.
You were surprised that Jim loved your film. What movie will we be surprised that you love?
NH: I love this movie that was written by Neil Simon and directed by Elaine May, "The Heartbreak Kid." I had my own copy when I grew up, watched it over and over. I still love it. And this big Hollywood movie that just killed me, called "Starting Over" that Alan Pakula directed, with Candice Bergen singing. And Burt Reynolds.
I wasn't sure if you were a big "Alien" fan or something.
NH: Sorry, no. I've never seen a Star Wars movie. I tried, and every time the film broke. Even in an airplane, it broke.
"Enough Said" opens in theatres on September 20.