Tom Hanks Interview For ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’

February 15, 2012


Oskar (Thomas Horn) is convinced that his father (Tom Hanks), who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, has left a final message for him hidden somewhere in the city. Feeling disconnected from his grieving mother (Sandra Bullock) and driven by a relentlessly active mind that refuses to believe in things that can’t be observed, Oskar begins searching New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he found in his father’s closet. His journey through the five boroughs takes him beyond his own loss to a greater understanding of the observable world around him. Directed by Stephen Daldry (The Reader, The Hours), ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ is set for release Febuary 17th in the UK.

Jumping on board with ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,’ with a script by Eric Roth and Stephen Daldry directing, what were your expectations going in?
Having worked with Eric Roth on ‘Forrest Gump’ before, and knowing that Stephen Daldry was going to be involved, I knew that it would be a fluid process. Their pedigree is substantial, with Stephen having made ‘The Hours,’ ‘The Reader,’ and ‘Billy Elliot.’ Their taste is impeccable. But the track record someone has is not nearly as important as their modus operandi. So with Stephen directing, I thought that it was going to be a very collaborative, free form effort that was going to require a different brand of discipline. Because a lot of making movies is physics, you have to be at a certain time, in a certain place, and you have to move this very complex apparatus. Very quickly getting to know Stephen and how he works, I understood that it was going to be personal moments of behaviour that would be captured by the camera, as opposed to staged behaviour that was going to be filmed by the camera. It’s an odd thing (laughs).


Speaking to Sandra Bullock and Max von Sydow, they commented on how Stephen was extremely collaborative?
Oh yeah. Some directors come in and say, “Here’s what this scene is about.” And we, as actors, have to get to that place where we make that certain thing undeniable when we capture it. Now, with Stephen Daldry, we would do that for one of the versions of the scene, then after that he’s like, “Alright, lets find out what we can dig at.” It’s as free-form as a motion picture can be. His willingness….not only his willingness, but he understood that it was required that we play, that we do scenes that are not locked in stone, that are made up of a long series of tiny moments….and he doesn’t even know what those tiny moments are. It was so comfortable for us, he’s without doubt an actors director. It was really about capturing authentic human behaviours, Stephen made that environment possible.

Can you tell us a little bit about you character in the film, Thomas Schell, this patient and devoted father?
Thomas Schell, he’s really become defined by his son. He has one kid, Oskar, who has not been diagnosed with Aspergers, but without a doubt he requires a substantial amount of….investment, high maintenance. Which is OK, provided that his parents are able to put in the effort and put in the work. Thomas is a middle aged dad, who runs a family jewellers business. Does he want to be a jeweller? He’ll never know. Would he have liked to be something else in the old days? Probably, yes. But as soon as they had Oskar, that kind of redefined what his world was going to be like. And it’s a good life, in that there is always something required of him to do as a parent. Stephen Daldry kept saying, “I apologise for turning you into super dad,” (laughs) because Thomas is always willing to come up with games, and maps, and challenges, and quests, and searches. And I was like, “Yeah, you are kind of overdoing it.” (Laughs) But I think the final product really does show that there was really no other way to live. Thomas Schell realises that, as well as his wife did, that if they did not put this pro-active investment into their son, everybody’s life would be miserable, the son would not grow up with the skills he needs to grow up with, the family unit would be uncomfortable.
It’s definitely a hands on, arts and crafts, constant project and development life that they lead. Which is in order to maximise the potential of the family. Which is really just living up to responsibility, even though some people may see it as above and beyond what is expected of a father. Thomas, in a non-exhausted way, lives an exhausted life (laughs). It’s a joy, not that it doesn’t have moments of frustration, but he’s really invested in making sure that this son of his is going to grow up with enough skills in order to get by once he’s gone, and the great tragedy is that he leaves much sooner than planned.

As a father yourself, how did you see Oskar?
Oskar is just, quite frankly, special in that way that can drive a lesser man nuts (laughs). He’s always occupied, always thinking. In some ways closed off, then yet the only reason he’s closed off is that his mind is involved in so many things. I think the way of all sons is that he produces this kind of awe from both his parents, that is translated by, “Can you believe this kid? Sometimes I don’t understand him but this kid is a universe onto himself.” I think we all feel that as parents, we look at our kids and just think, “What an extraordinary creation.” Well, Oskar, he’s an extraordinary creation times two or three.

How was it for you working alongside Thomas Horn in that role?
He’s the star of ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,’ he had to show up for rehearsals, for coaching, for research, or for actually shooting the movie – at what could be described as a back breaking schedule (laughs). But he had such unbridled enthusiasm for every moment of that, and that’s a testament to a certain degree of character. I knew right off the bat that he had to walk this very very fine line between honest in his behaviours, and at the same time delivering very specific scripted moments. That’s not easy for anybody to do, it’s hard to get past the self-consciousness, even for a “seasoned professional.” But his understanding of that, not just that it’s the job, that it’s the task, but that was the difference between truth and a lie. He was pretty spectacular.

You get an opportunity to work with Sandra Bullock as well on ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’…..
Sandra Bullock, I’d met her at award shows and things like that before briefly, but the very first thing we did in rehearsals was that Sandra, Thomas and I made lunch, we got together and just made lunch, for the three of us. We made some spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and what not. And I could not discern any true effort between that day of rehearsal, months before we started making the movie, and the moments where we were actually working with a camera rolling. It’s so fluid with her. She is wonderful.

Source : Flicks And Bits