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Chandor Talks Directing Silent Redford in 'All Is Lost' (TRAILER)

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood October 18, 2013 at 4:14PM

Writer-director J.C. Chandor is two-for-two now, with man-vs-sea saga "All Is Lost" joining his impressive debut "Margin Call." Many have wondered why Chandor’s official Cannes selection wasn’t selected for the main Competition. "All Is Lost"'s compelling and increasingly harrowing narrative, about a man on a solo ocean voyage who ends up in dire straits after his sailboat collides with a cargo container, played tremendously well with critics and the Cannes black-tie crowd attending its red-carpet gala, who gave it a nine-minute standing ovation. Redford, who is the only actor in the film and hardly says a word, delivers a performance of astonishing and emblematic potency.

No more boats.
No more boats.

What was the attraction: “It was the challenge of being solitary without having the crutch of words. That was a challenge that was very attractive as an actor. I’d also just finished directing and acting in a film and I really wanted to have an experience where I could give myself over completely to another director. The reason this worked is because I felt that J.C. had a vision that was very clear and very strong and very different.”

Did he learn anything during the shoot: “I learned the value of being truthful in a performance, particularly when there’s nothing to lean on. There are no other characters so you’d better be true to yourself.”

Did he ever regret saying yes: “I didn’t always enjoy being there but I was stuck. Where was I going to go? It was hard. I decided that I wanted to try to do what I could physically myself. J.C was relentless in his vision, which I appreciate, but he was also very respectful throughout, of me and my well being. I think because of that I was encouraged to want to give him more, more, more. I thought if I could do some of these action things myself, it would be better for him and also pretty good for my ego. That was a terrible mistake!”

What is his connection to nature: “I feel we are in a dire situation. I feel that the planet is speaking in a very loud voice. In the United States, it’s always been what we call Manifest Destiny, which is you just keep pushing and building and developing and never mind what you destroy in your wake, whether it’s a culture or whether it’s nature. Nature has been so savaged that I think there’s not a lot left and that’s something that I feel very personal about. I don’t what can be done to stop it because you’re fighting big corporate forces and that’s hard to battle.”

This article is related to: Robert Redford, All Is Lost, Cannes Film Festival, Interviews, Interviews

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.