Last week, Nick and I had a couple date nights at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. I had never attended the Tribeca Film Festival before, so I was ecstatic! I calendared a few of the “Tribeca Talks” shows a few weeks ago and was able to grab tickets to two of them – Joss Whedon interviewed by Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hanks interviewed by John Oliver.
Director Series – Joss Whedon & Mark Ruffalo
Joss Whedon is a screenwriter and director best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Avengers movies. He sat down with Avengers actor, Mark Ruffalo, to share some life stories with us. Though they are pals, the interview started off a little awkward to be honest as Mark didn’t have any questions prepared in advance (or so it seemed). As the hour went on, the conversation began to flow a little better though as if we were just eavesdropping on two guys catching up with each other over a beer – or two guys out dancing as seems to be Joss’ favorite pastime. Plus, Mark Ruffalo is so charismatic and adorable that no one seemed to mind…
Joss grew up on the Upper West Side in New York City where he quickly developed a love for comic books as well as Shakespeare. Both influenced his work years later. His love of film grew because his parents would bring home tons of movies for the family to watch (usually the same ones again and again), but The Shining was Joss’ “It” movie. It was the film that really made him want to be involved in the movie making magic.
Though he contributed to scripts for Speed and Twister, 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the first film script he ever wrote. He wasn’t a big fan of the released version, but he was able to write and direct the tv show half a decade later. The show became a huge hit and still has a cult following. While writing the show, Joss always thought he saw himself in the character, Xander, but years later he realized that he was actually Buffy! This “ah-ha moment” was an example of putting oneself into one’s work because as Joss claims, “If you aren’t writing about yourself, why are you writing?” Joss puts more than just his personality into his scripts though. While writing, he goes all out playing every part and even acting out the stunts!
More recently, Joss wrote and directed the Avengers movies. He discussed his unhappiness with how Avengers: Age of Ultron turned out and how he was so disappointed in himself that he took a long vacation from both writing and directing. Thankfully, he realized he’s happier while working, so he’s back at it and currently working on a new project. He wouldn’t give the audience any details on the script unfortunately, but he did say that it’s really good! In fact, it is so moving according to Whedon that it brought him to full on sobs as he was working on the script in a restaurant recently. I look forward to watching the finished project in a theater soon!
Storytellers: Tom Hanks and John Oliver
On Friday night, we had the privilege of hearing Tom Hanks and John Oliver discuss Tom’s career as an actor and producer. I thought this event was really interesting because while I know Tom Hanks has produced historical dramas like Band of Brothers, I didn’t realize just how many historical pieces his production company has worked on and how big a passion storytelling is to Tom. He’s done projects on John Adams to John F. Kennedy and everyone in between. This desire to tell the world true stories through film began after Tom acted in Apollo 13.
World War II-era is Tom’s favorite period to research and produce pieces on because people “weren’t certain if they would live or die” at that time. Why doesn’t he produce more modern storylines? His answer – “documentaries kick movies’ ass” when it comes to present-day stories. Plus, smartphones, in Tom’s opinion, make it impossible to keep characters apart, or for people to tell lies, or to obscure facts on screen. He mentioned that movies ripped from today’s headlines can work well as long as today’s technology is incorporated into the storyline.
In terms of his acting career, Tom is most proud of That Thing You Do!. For one, his family was involved. (Wife, Rita Wilson, and son, Colin Hanks, were also in the film.) Second, the scene where the band hears their song on the radio for the first time was so moving and realistic that even Bruce Springstein told Tom he could relate to that moment because he had a similar experience back in the day. How cool?!
Obviously, Tom Hanks has starred in tons of amazing movies – You’ve Got Mail, Toy Story, and Forrest Gump being a few of my favorites. He said he was basically typecast in his early 30s, and to break through it he started saying “no” to people and projects. My favorite part of the conversation was when Tom gave his two cents on actors (or dreamers, in general) who aren’t as lucky when it comes to getting roles. He started out by saying there are two types of people in the world – those who are too self conscious to act vs. those who have given up on being self conscious and therefore can act. From there, people are broken down into another two categories – those who are broken by too much rejection and those who overcome all of the rejection in the industry. He stressed to take even the smaller parts in a community theater because you never know who is in the audience and to keep posting YouTube videos because you never know who is watching. Just keep moving forward and putting yourself out there. Such a great note to end the interview on, no?
I’m not going to lie, the cherry on top of this “Tribeca Talks” show was the goodies from sponsor Dean & DeLuca. Everyone in the audience received $15 gift cards on their way into the theater and Madeleines (tiny tea cakes) on the way out. Yum!
What actor or director would you like to see interviewed in person? Let me know who and what question you’d love to ask him or her in the comments below!
Stay fit and fabulous,