Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Trailer For 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Brings Two Comic Book Legends Together Watch: First Trailer For 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Brings Two Comic Book Legends Together Martin Scorsese's List Of 85 Must-See Films Martin Scorsese's List Of 85 Must-See Films The 10 Best & 5 Worst Cannes Film Festival Openers Ever The 10 Best & 5 Worst Cannes Film Festival Openers Ever The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Savannah Film Festival: Bruce Dern Talks 'Nebraska,' Says Alexander Payne Ranks With Hitchcock & Kazan And More

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 30, 2013 at 2:01PM

Though he's thousands of miles and months away from when he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival this spring for his role in "Nebraska," there was no one else at the Savannah Film Festival that we spoke to with as much light, energy and enthusiasm as the 77 year-old Bruce Dern. In town last weekend to help open the festival with "Nebraska," and present director Alexander Payne with the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award, Dern was some of a force in Savannah. The generous time he spent with students of Savannah College of Art & Design in a masterclass already caused a small amount of chatter, and when we sat down with him not long after, Dern was eager and happy to keep sharing his stories and experiences. But what came through most was how proud and genuinely grateful he was the opportunity to perform in "Nebraska."
0
Nebraska

Though he's thousands of miles and months away from when he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival this spring for his role in "Nebraska," there was no one else at the Savannah Film Festival that we spoke to with as much light, energy and enthusiasm as the 77 year-old Bruce Dern. In town last weekend to help open the festival with "Nebraska," and present director Alexander Payne with the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award, Dern was some of a force in Savannah. The generous time he spent with students of Savannah College of Art & Design in a masterclass already caused a small amount of chatter, and when we sat down with him not long after, Dern was eager and happy to keep sharing his stories and experiences. But what came through most was how proud and genuinely grateful he was the opportunity to perform in "Nebraska."

"What was on the paper to me was as good as I’ve ever seen...It was the best role I’ve ever been offered, period.”

In the film, Dern plays Woody Grant, a father and married man whose mind is slowly slipping with his advanced age, who is determined to travel to Lincoln to claim the millions of dollars he thinks he's won in a sweepstakes contest. Even as everyone tells him he's dreaming, his youngest son David agrees to drive and accompany his Dad on this pipe dream. And what unfolds is a road trip that allows both Woody and David to bond, while looking at their own fractured family history and trying to make some amends. And Dern plays his role near effortlessly, physically and emotionally channeling a man whose been wearied in body and spirit, but he gives full credit to the material he was able to work with.

“It all begins with what’s on the paper, and what was on the paper to me was as good as I’ve ever seen...It was the best role I’ve ever been offered, period,” he said to us, adding: "It was basically all there. And that’s what excited me about it. And I knew also it was an opportunity for me to be somebody I’ve never been asked to be in a film before.”

Nebraska

But translating a great character in a script into a performance that resonates, often requires trust between an actor and director, and in Payne, Dern found a true collaborator and someone who provided a framework that allowed for taking chances. “Alexander said to me, ‘When you get on the set we’ll have about 80-85 people there, just know that 47 of the crew will have worked every day on every movie I’ve ever made.’ So it’s a family," Dern said. "So you can dare to risk and do things that you’re not going to be punished for or criticized for, because everybody’s got your back.”

Throughout his career, Dern has been able to work with no shortage of great filmmakers — Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Elia Kazan, Sam Peckinpah, Bob Rafelson and more — and for him, Payne ranks right up there with them. “I’m put him on the same level as [Elia] Kazan and Mr. [Alfred] Hitchcock, without a doubt. Because his approachability on the set to every member of his crew, his naturalness, his keeping a sense of reality with all of us about the whole day’s work, and work we’re doing,” Dern praised his director.

“And I suppose if I was to say why Alexander on the level with those guys, he casts brilliantly — and I don’t mean with the choice of me — and yet he casts surprisingly, and this movie is filled with people that’ll surprise you,” he added, noting that all of those elements of Payne's approach culminated into something special. “He put together a team of guys that has given us an opportunity at this stage where we have a shot at the playoffs. And I don’t mean Oscars or anything else, we can be one of the most important films of the year.”

Nebraska

But Dern doesn't forget others who helped shaped what has become "Nebraska," from the committed crew to the non-actors who help fill out the texture of the picture, and he has some big words of praise for his co-star and "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Forte, who plays his son in the film. “He’s certainly in the top group of the most courageous actors I’ve ever worked with because, he’s made a living for 18 years doing a certain kind of comedy thing….And he became a certain kind of an entity [and] he sacrificed that in this movie to be real, to be honest, to be simple, and he’s the lynchpin to the movie for me," Dern stated. "I couldn’t have gone where I go in the movie without his help.”

Dern's positive and pure appreciation for "Nebraska" was deeply felt and palpable throughout our conversation, and you can see the result of his experience working Payne and Forte when the film opens on November 22nd.

The Savannah Film Festival continues through November 2nd.


This article is related to: Savannah Film Festival, Bruce Dern, Nebraska, Interviews, Interviews


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates