Woody Allen, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson and Larry David line up to talk to SheKnows. Whatever Works is the New York auteur’s latest film as the legend and his usual all-star cast share Whatever Works secrets.
Allen’s latest movie and its stars — Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson and Larry David — have captured lightning in a bottle. SheKnows has to say that Whatever Works — opening in New York and LA June 19 and July 1 nationwide — truly works!
Woody & Wood
Picture it: you’ve got Larry David on screen as Boris Yellnikoff, a misanthrope (translation: curmudgeon) who’s sarcastic as they get to the point of insulting young children as the over the top genius attempts to teach them chess! Then you’ve got an impressionable young runaway portrayed by Evan Rachel Wood. The naÃ¯ve young woman moves in with Boris only to find her divorced mother, played by Patricia Clarkson, from the south arrives at her doorstepâ€¦soon to be followed by her divorced dad, Ed Begley, Jr.
So, we could only wonder what it was like on set to be directed by the legendary Woody Allen? “I have a whole new respect for comedians in general,” Wood says. “I knew it was going to be difficult and challenging, it was like running a marathon every day and I’m glad that he had faith in me.”
Clarkson clues in on Woody’s wizardry
Patricia Clarkson chimes in, “Woody has great trust in us and it’s a beautiful freedom he gives you as an actor which I think makes you a better actor. He gives you confidence to go large and wide and trust that you will actually be employed again after you’re seen in the film. Yes, I think he trusted that we could really stretch it big and still remain truthful.”
An Allen romance
As the romantic partners in this film couple, uncouple and then realign, Woody intertwines the plot with humor and emphasizes the importance of directing a team of brilliantly talented actors and the ability to “get out of the way.”
He says, “People have always asked me over the years about performances in my movies and they think I’m being facetious when I say this but I’m not. I hire great people and then I get out of their way. They were great before they met me, they’re great in my movies and then they’re great in movies after me. I hire them and tell them that they’re free to go.”
While Mr. Allen says he jumps in the very rare instance one of his actors is doing something egregiously wrong, he’s a firm believer of hiring good people who read the script, understand it and get it. He had seen Evan briefly in a few films and didn’t even know she could do a southern accent! “The first time I heard the accent was when we shot her and she just came and did it.”
There are certain nuances in the film like when the Boris character has anxiety attacks so we couldn’t help but wonder: how does the cast handle panic attacks in real life? Woody explains, “I turn on something that’s calming on TV where there’s no sense of conflict. I could turn on a ball game and be very placid.”
Patricia adds, “I’m a news junkie so even though there’s a lot of conflict, I like it, it calms me. I find it soothing. I watch it 24/7.” Also a news junkie, Evan notes, “I do the same thing. It makes me laugh. I think watching the news long enough is the funny thing I’ve ever seen because it makes no sense. It’s just ridiculous.”
Then Larry adds, “I generally stay with the panic. I embrace the panic. I know there’s no getting out of it even if I turn I’d still hear that sick psychotic voice going crazy in my head and there’s nothing I could do.”
To which Woody responds, “There’s perfect casting!”