Premiering in the Spectrum section of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Blind Date — actor/director Stanley Tucci’s remake of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh’s 1996 movie — centers on a married couple (Tucci and Patricia Clarkson) in mourning after the death of their daughter. The troubled twosome attempt to heal their relationship in an unconventional way: They pretend to be strangers and meet for a series of ”blind dates.” EW sat down with Tucci and Clarkson for a chat about making the film.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What drew you to this project?
STANLEY TUCCI: I liked the darkness. I always wanted to make a movie with this darkness. I’m fascinated by the complexity of the relationship, the theatricality of the relationship. The idea of this loss, the most tragic loss, is a fear I’ve had for many, many years, as a parent. I wanted to explore that.
EW: Tell me how you two put these performances together. It was very intense, so I’m guessing you spent a lot of time rehearsing?
TUCCI: You have to rehearse it like a play. But you can’t shoot it like a play, and you can’t act it like a play. If you did, it would be overwrought. It has to have a broader aspect to it. Originally, Tony Shalhoub was going to play the part, and we rehearsed it and we were two days away from shooting, and the money fell apart. So in essence I had watched them and rehearsed with them like a play for five days.
PATRICIA CLARKSON: Tony was a better kisser. I had to kiss both of them, and Tony was a better kisser.
EW: She’s got all the secrets.
CLARKSON: Honey, I do. Then we came back around, [but] Tony was doing Monk, so Stanley stepped in. [When] we first rehearsed, it was a concern of mine whether we could do this pas de deux, whether we could dance together. We’re such friends. It ended up being very effortless. I realized I had such an incredible emotional attachment to him that I wasn’t aware of, like an organic relationship. We’ve known each other for so long — I know his wife and his family.
TUCCI: It’s also possible that having that time off — rehearsing and gearing up to do it and then having that time off — something always stays with you. You’re always working on it, and then you go back and it’s all there again. The script stayed the same for that year and a half [between the rehearsals and the start of shooting.]
EW: Where did you film this?
CLARKSON: This little town called Ghent, Belgium. It was spectacular, and we had an amazing crew. We could never in a million years have shot that movie without the crew. We shot in only seven days and they rallied for us.
TUCCI: They were so fast. You’re not dealing with a lot of the mechanics that you do in America — anybody can pick up anything and move it anywhere. [It’s like,] ”You want to make a movie?” ”Sure.” ”Do you have a car?” ”Sure.” ”Can you drive me?” ”Sure.”
EW: Stanley, what took you eight years to direct another movie?
TUCCI: I was waiting for Patty; she was so busy. No, really, I didn’t know what I wanted to make. I had a couple of movies that I wanted to do, but they were taken already. I think I was disconcerted with the way the last movie I had directed [Joe Gould’s Secret] had been distributed. It was during a change of regimes at a company [the now-defunct USA Films], and it disappeared in two weeks, and I was just exhausted. I had two children by then, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. I was driving the people I had a production company with crazy. But now I have a whole bunch of movies I want to do, and I started a production company with Steve Buscemi called Olive Prods. I have three features I want to. I have a thing at HBO I want to do: an adaptation of Gay Talese’s book Unto the Sons. [I’m] working with [writer] Nick Pileggi to adapt it — it’s a miniseries of an Italian family coming to America. It’s a big epic.
EW: What are your hopes for distribution for Blind Date, since you weren’t that happy last time around?
TUCCI: I hope somebody who really likes the movie buys it and will take care of it. Every movie is different. You can’t have the same expectations for every film. You have to be fully conscious of the movie you made, the tone of your movie. I don’t have high aspirations for this film. This isn’t a blockbuster. This is a small movie, and I know what circuit it will play. I just hope that whoever does it, does it well and takes care of it.