Finn Wittrock lost himself in the twists of 'page-turner' rom-com Long Weekend
"I just remember reading the script in a fury," the actor tells EW.
Finn Wittrock has always tried to pick a role that's opposite of the one he just played, assuming the cosmos align to give him those opportunities. He does believe in chance, but he has oscillated from cyber mogul Cameron Tyler on Law & Order: SVU to prostitute Dale in Masters of Sex, killer-clown-in-training Dandy Mott in American Horror Story to the U.S. Air Force soldier Mac in Unbroken, and Judy Garland's fifth husband Mickey Deans in Judy to auto body detailer Jaeger in Semper Fi. His latest switch from Edmund Tolleson in Ratched to Bart in Long Weekend "might be the most successful" attempt, Wittrock says.
The actor takes the lead in this unique rom-com from first-time feature filmmaker Stephen Basilone (Happy Endings, The Goldbergs). A catapult's launch away from Ratched's convicted mass murderer, Bart is a struggling writer who's hit the proverbial rock bottom: he's sleeping on his married friend's couch in the garage, he recently went through a breakup, and he's interviewing for a job writing sales copy about catheters. One clandestine night, he meets the vivacious Vienna (Love Life's Zoë Chao), and the two get swept up in a blissfully romantic weekend.
But there's a twist. Basilone specifically mentions Eternal Sunshine, Stranger Than Fiction, Groundhog Day, and About Time as being in the same vein as Long Weekend. "These are all rom-coms at their core, but they take the boy-meets-girl format and add another layer that gives the story so much more depth and intrigue," he tells EW.
While we can't get into any more specifics than that, EW has an exclusive sneak peek of a scene that occurs towards the end of the couple's meet-cute. (See the video above.)
"I just remember reading the script in a fury, like a real page-turner, and really thinking I knew what was going to happen and being so pleasantly surprised by the ending and by the twists and turns," Wittrock says. "The thought was, if we could make a movie that's as exciting as this was to read, that'd be a huge success."
Long Weekend was clearly a personal story for Basilone, who also wrote the film. It's inspired by a time in his own life when, after battling a chronic illness, suffering through a divorce, and facing his mother's cancer diagnosis, he met a woman who gave him a reprieve from his current reality. Bart's background maintains many similarities with Basilone's. He begins in "a really dark, sad place with a lot of scar tissue" and then "totally loses himself" in this weekend-long relationship and "comes out of his shell," Wittrock explains.
"I think it was written from a raw place when [Basilone] started writing it, based on coming straight off of a breakup," he adds. "The movie is not completely realistic in that way, but it does come out of a place of his own pain at the time and how he moved on with his life."
Wittrock found himself subconsciously pulling attributes from Basilone for the role, given the parallels. After all, Wittrock's primary resource into the psyche of this man could be found a few feet away behind the camera. "I wasn't necessarily imitating him, but I do think some of his quirks may have found themselves in Bart," he clarifies.
"Finn's character is clearly a conduit for me in many ways, in that he's a person that's just gone through a ton of tumultuous hardship. And now, he's on the other side of that feeling like a fragile and kind of broken person," Basilone writes to EW over email. "After a confluence of garbage in my life, I very much felt like that — I was unsure of how to move forward, and at times, unsure if I even wanted to. But even though that time was easily the toughest period in my life, an amazing amount of levity and optimism also came out of the muck. So, I wanted to tell a story about that resiliency. One where two people are able to find light and hope and a bit of magic in even the darkest of times."
Much like the story itself, production on the film occurred off in its own little world. Wittrock shot the movie after Ratched at a time when everyone could afford to operate without masks or social distancing. "Now that we're all stuck at home and that we're not trusting a stranger to just go hang out with — we have to stay six feet away — that physical distance is literally causing us to miss the chance to have those random adventures that sometimes come out of nowhere," Wittrock reflects. "I think maybe people will see [this film] and reminisce a little bit when life could offer up those random accidents."
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Long Weekend will premiere nationwide in theaters on May 12. It will premiere March 12.
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