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Derek Cianfrance Talks About His Epic Drama 'The Place Beyond The Pines' & Almost Making Two Movies Out Of 'Blue Valentine'

The Playlist By Edward Davis | The Playlist April 1, 2013 at 3:20PM

Filmmaker Derek Cianfrance took twelve years to make his sophomore effort, "Blue Valentine." A searing relationship drama about husbands and wives starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, it quickly put the almost-forgotten director – who made his feature debut with 1998's still unreleased "Brother Tied" and had turned to documentaries in that time – firmly back on the cinematic map. His follow-up, "The Place Beyond The Pines" arrived a relatively quick two years later, but was six years in the making and Cianfrance actually had Gosling on board before 'Valentine' had even begun shooting.
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The Place Beyond The Pines
Are we going to see some of that that stuff on DVD? 
Absolutely, yeah. There are too many great moments. There was a great scene that was unscripted of Ryan before he went to jail and you know we had some time on the set and I wanted him to just get processed with a real cop behind the counter, “name, age, birth date, where are you born?” All of these questions. “Take off your clothes, put on this orange jumpsuit.” Emasculating, this degrading moment but it just didn’t fit in the film.

This additional scene with Ben [Mendelsohn] and Ryan is great. More scenes with Ray Liotta and Bradley Cooper and moments where Eva [Mendes] is just beating the shit out of Dane [DeHaan]. Great moments but there just wasn't space in the movie. It was like “Blue Valentine.” I could have made two films. I was going to actually think about making just 'Valentine,' and just 'Blue' some day. And those things we put online and they kind of have their own life out there. You know I love getting those things out there. You know I saw the The Master” deleted scenes the other day on The Playlist. It's amazing.

What was the impetus for this? I love this movie but it's also so aesthetically different from “Blue Valentine.” It feels like it could have been made from a different filmmaker.


Well it's still dealing with family which my first feature was “Brother Tied” about brothers, ‘Valentine’ is husbands and wives, this one's fathers and sons, still about legacy. Why I made “Blue Valentine” – my nightmare as a kid was my parents would get a divorce. And now as a young man I was trying to have a relationship that didn't end the same way and ‘Pines’ is about that passing of the fire – from my grandfather to my father to me to my son and just wanting my son to have life but to have it on his own terms. [Cianfrance talked to us about similar themes of the film, the influence of “Psycho,” “Napoleon” and the books of Jack London in this early interview from TIFF that you should also read]

The Place Beyond The Pines, Cooper, Cianfrance
Did you write this before or after Blue Valentine?
We started writing it in 2007. “Blue Valentine” was shot in 2009. So I was preparing it, in fact I was at Ryan Gosling's agent’s house in November of 2007 preparing to shoot “Blue Valentine.” That next year we were going to do it with Michelle but you know when Heath Ledger passed we postponed the shoot.

Anyway, we were talking about ‘Blue’ and I asked Ryan at dinner one night, “Hey man is there anything you've done so much in your young life, what haven't you don't that you always wanted to do?” He said, “Well I've always wanted to rob a bank but I've been too scared of jail to do it.” I said well, "I’m making a movie about a bank robber, how would you do it?" He said, “Well I'd do it on a motorcycle so I could go in with a helmet, no one would know who I was and I'd leave on a motorcycle because they're fast and agile and I'd have a cube truck about five blocks away and I'd run it into the back of the truck and no one would know. They'd be looking for a motorcycle, not a cube truck.” And that was crazy because that’s exactly what we had written for ‘Pines’ and I told him so. I'd always thought about this as a western. [Co-screenwriter] Ben Coccio was like, “Why don't we do motorcycles instead of horses,” and that sounds pretty modernized. Make a modern America about modern tribes, not the direct western.

Lots of stories about families, fathers, sons… What’s next?

I've written the pilot for “Muscle,” the HBO series, I've planned out the six seasons of that and I feel like a ship in HBOs busy port right now, let me come to land already. I've experienced it before with “Blue Valentine” having to wait but there's that great line in Robert Altman's “Popeye” when he says, “I ain't no doctor but I know when I'm losing me patience.” So I feel like Popeye right now, “What am I, a barnacle on the dingy of your life?”

You were briefly attached to that “Chef” project with Bradley Cooper for a second. What happened there?

Yeah, it just wasn’t my movie to make. I felt like the script was great and Bradley was great and I love Harvey Weinstein, just ultimately wasn't mine; something I created. You know what I mean? I didn't know what I could put into it but I can't wait to see it.

"The Place Beyond The Pines" is in limited release right and goes wide on April 12th.  -- Interview by Rodrigo Perez

This article is related to: Derek Cianfrance, Ryan Gosling, The Place Beyond The Pines, Blue Valentine, Interviews, Interview


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