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BAMcinemaFest: Ry Russo-Young, Lena Dunham & 'Nobody Walks' Cast Discuss The Film At Lively Q&A

Photo of Cory Everett By Cory Everett | @modage June 27, 2012 at 1:56PM

BAMcinemaFest is now in full swing and Brooklyn cinephiles are getting a chance to sample some of the films they might have missed at Sundance, Cannes and SXSW. Though the festival is already halfway over, there are still plenty of interesting films coming up, including So Yong Kim’s “For Ellen,” Josh Radnor’s “Liberal Arts” and Craig Zobel’s “Compliance” among others. Check out the full line-up here. One of the highlights of the fest so far has been Ry Russo-Young’s “Nobody Walks.” The dramedy centers on young artist Martine (Olivia Thirlby) who comes to stay in the pool house of a Los Angeles family while she completes her short film.
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2. Russo-Young and Dunham weren’t concerned with creating likable characters and their elastic screenplay allows each of the characters to be sympathetic in one scene and off-putting in the next. At the center of which is Martine (Thirlby), who ends up unintentionally wreaking some emotional havoc upon her gracious hosts.
The film is full of complex characters making sometimes crucial mistakes that might cause the audience to shift their sympathies scene by scene. When asked if Martine was supposed to be a sympathetic or unsympathetic character, Russo-Young was quick to explain. “I don't really see it that way, I mean, I really empathise with all the characters in the movie – at certain times, at certain moments in the movie. I think we wrote all the characters to be empathetic at one point in time, and then that completely sort of changes, and it shifts throughout the movie and I think that's one of the things to me that was really appealing about the movie is that life's life, we're human beings, they screw up or they do bad things, they do good things to redeem themselves and we're constantly push-pull good and bad and working through that, and I think that in that sense all characters in that sense are often in that place.”

Dunham responded, “Olivia [Thirlby] brought such an amazing – I knew Olivia since we were five, so I was really excited, and I was very excited when Ry cast her. But I think that the thing about Martine is that, like, I leaned over to my friend Wes at one point because I just felt like I needed to comment 'What a ho.' I didn't even mean that, I just felt like I needed to prevent myself from being implicated in what she was doing. And at the same time there's just, I think, for everyone who's ever lived or worked or been confused about the boundaries of things, like, her behaviour is completely understandable – what she's supposed to do, like do something like that and then stab herself or she's behaving like a 23-year-old girl?”

She then asked Thirlby if she ever hated her character while playing her and Thirlby responded definitively. “Definitely no,” she said. “I really understand Martine, I have to come from a place of really understanding her in order to do her justice and not just turn her into this kind of ho. But you know, I think she definitely makes some really dumb moves, that we all as the audience have the ability to kind of watch from this bird's eye view and watch somebody flailing around in naivety and inexperience, but she herself is really acting from her heart and she just I think hasn't had the experience and hasn't really lived long enough to understand that sometimes you can act from the heart but you also have to have a kind of backseat view of yourself as well, so that you can make sure that you're, you know, check some balances, keeping tab of yourself. So I never, in my mind – she was never the villain, she just, you know, she just – she just didn't know any better when she should have and her mistake was kind of not seeing the huge red flags that kept popping up.”

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3. The film does a remarkable job of eliciting great performances across the board from cast including Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt and John Krasinski, who was initially very different than who they had in mind for the part.
As sound designer Peter, Krasinski gets to flex some of the laid back charm he displays on “The Office,” but also allows him to play to his darker side including an outburst untethered emotion. If seeing Jim Halpert freak out isn’t what fans of his sitcom are expecting, it initially wasn’t what the writers had in mind either, but they were won over by him. “John Krasinski actually came in for the role of the patient, initially,” Russo-Young said indicating the role played by Justin Kirk in the film. “[But] when I just met John he seemed so Peter to me, it was like everything I'd just imagined about that character from his physicality to his sense of hungriness. He had like hunger to him that it just felt like this person is Peter, I can't deny that, this is right. Rosemarie DeWitt and John Krasinski also had an incredible kind of relationship, like they seemed like they sort of spoke their own language.”

Dunham said that she was even more surprised as she had been expecting someone with a completely different physicality to fill the role. “I was so surprised, cause I was totally outside [on the casting when I] heard about the John Krasinski addition just because I'd imagined the character being like 40,” Dunham said. “I imagined a Jon Lovitz instead of John Krasinski. So when I heard, I was like 'Ry went to LA, she lost her mind, I'm just gonna have to bid that one farewell.' Not because he's not a great actor [but] he was not what I [had in mind]. He just felt, in my mind he was like 28 and there was like a casualness to what he did that wasn't completely...” she trailed off before explaining. “I was being completely judgemental, and the minute I saw the first cut, I was so impressed by what he'd done, there was so much pathos and intensity, I was moved and aroused, I just...I loved it.”

Russo-Young jokingly added, “I'm moved and aroused.”

This article is related to: BAMcinematek, BAMcinemaFest, Nobody Walks, Ry Russo-Young, Lena Dunham


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