Producer Jane Seymour discusses this romantic drama, casting Tom Sturridge and Rachel Bilson, filming in Utah, and much more
Jane Seymour has been a celebrated actress for a number of years, from roles in the James Bond classic Live and Let Die, her title role in the popular TV series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and the 2005 comedy classic Wedding Crashers. What some might not know, though, is she has translated her success in front of the camera to a career behind the scenes as a producer. She executive produced a number of TV movies along with the 2007 comedy Blind Dating, which served as a stepping stone for a talented young actor named Chris Pine, before he became known worldwide as the new Captain Kirk in Star Trek.
Her latest effort as a producer is the romantic comedy Waiting for Forever, which hits the shelves on Blu-ray and DVD on May 3. The movie stars Tom Sturridge as Will, an unusual young man who lives a vagabond-esque lifestyle, all so he can be close to his true, yet unrequited love, Emma Twist (Rachel Bilson), a journey that brings them both back to their hometown. I recently had the chance to speak with the producer over the phone, and here's what she had to say.
You're obviously very well known as an actress, although I was curious how you initially became involved as a producer?
Jane Seymour: I've been involved in producing movies, gosh, for about 18 years now, I think. When I first met James Keach, the director, we were both working on a movie we were co-producing, he was directing, and I was starring in, called Sunstroke. We have worked together a great deal ever since. We did Walk the Line, which we worked on for a number of years. We did Blind Dating, with a brand new actor who no one had heard of named Chris Pine, who is now, of course, incredibly successful. With Waiting for Forever, it was a script we found and we loved. In this case, there was no role in it for me, other than behind the camera, producing, but I loved it. I thought it was an amazing, amazing script, very unusual and clearly a movie that we haven't seen before, which was very appealing to me. I also felt that it was a true love story in a quirky, different way, and a very pure kind of love story. It had a lot of twists which I didn't expect. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and I felt that it was a movie that had to be made, so that's why we made it.
Will (Tom Sturridge) is certainly one of the more interesting characters I've run across lately. He has this kind of Forrest Gump quality to him. He's intelligent, but he's very socially awkward and you can't help but find him charming.
Jane Seymour: It was very hard to find the right guy to play him. If it's played wrong, you would think of him as a stalker, which he clearly isn't. He's a true innocent. He's quirky and he's a grown man, but with the innocence of an 11-year-old. At the same time, we see through the movie that he grows up. We realize that he actually was aware of things, but didn't want to deal with them. He clearly loves this girl. It's not about sex, but the purest form of love for another human being. It's also interesting that our idea of what normal would be is his brother (Scott Mechlowicz), the banker. Yet, in the movie, we realize that he's damaged too in a different way, and his behavior, which we would call normal, is actually not normal at all. The person who really is the most normal in the movie is the one we, at first glance, think of as the most strange, which is Will. Everbody else is playing a charade. Even Richard Jenkins' character, being brutally honest and behaving very bizarrely as he's dying, to a woman he clearly does love. Blythe Danner, I think, gives an extraordinary performance. She's trying just to make everybody happy, and peachy and nice. Will is totally honest, at all times.
Yeah, it's like he doesn't have these filters that "normal" people do, to mask emotions and things like that. He is completely unfiltered and it was fun to watch.
Jane Seymour: That's what I loved about the movie. It was very hard to find the right actor. Literally every young actor around tested for it. Tom Sturridge tested and James and I and Trevor Albert, the other producer, we just said, "Here's the guy. Here's Will.'
Was there anything specific you were looking for in Will, or was it just something that you knew when you saw it?
Jane Seymour: It's very hard to find someone who can play that kind of innocence that you really believe. He had to be quirky, but, at the same time, he had to be attractive enough where you could understand that a relationship with Rachel Bilson could happen. He just had so many levels and, of course, he's completely English, but you would never know when you watch the movie.
Can you talk a bit about the rest of the casting process? Did that role come first and you built around that? It's really quite an ensemble you have here, even in smaller roles.
Jane Seymour: Yes. Well, we were crazy about Richard Jenkins. When we got Richard Jenkins and Blythe Danner, that was huge. Their chemistry together is fabulous. I think Scott Mechlowicz originally tested for Will, and James and Trevor looked at him and thought, 'Gosh, he'd be even more wonderful as the brother.' The scene with the two of them in the taxi puts me away every time.
Where did you actually shoot this?
Jane Seymour: It was shot in Utah, and it was shot pretty quickly. It was done on a very small budget, compared to what it looks like. Everybody worked very hard on it and it was very much a labor of love. We showed it at a lot of film festivals and it kept getting the top audience response everywhere. Everywhere that people have actually gone to the theaters and seen it, people have seemed to love it. We're very excited that it's coming out now on DVD, so people can really get a chance to see it. It's the kind of movie you can watch over and over. Some movies you watch once, and this movie is one people tend to watch multiple times.
Can you talk a bit more about the response you got on the festival circuit? Were you expecting a bigger theatrical release than you got, or was the plan always to mainly get it out on DVD?
Jane Seymour: Well, the problem is if you go against a $300 million movie, that has another $300 million in P&A (Laughs), that's what's happening today. This movie was made for very little money, and it would have cost six times as much, probably, to do the theatrical advertising on it. The choice was, how do we do something like this? In a way, it's kind of sad, because there are a lot of fabulous movies, which a lot of people would love to see in a movie theater, but it's hard to compete with a $300 million monster movie, you know what I'm talking about. This is the kind of word-of-mouth movie. People see it and go, 'I love that movie,' and they go tell everyone. When it was in theaters, it did very well. I think it was shown in three areas, Phoenix, L.A., and New York. I think, for us, the most exciting thing is this will be the kind of movie that people will really love in home theaters.
Jane Seymour: Well, I haven't seen it finished, so I can't really say a lot about it. He was terrific and that definitely is a wacky movie. I have another movie which is actually coming out soon called Love, Wedding, Marriage, which I starred in with Mandy Moore and Jessica Szohr. That is another movie which had a smaller budget, but is a terrific little movie.
Finally, what would you like to say to anyone who didn't get a chance to see Waiting for Forever in theaters about why they should pick up the DVD?
Jane Seymour: I would say because it's a movie that will move you. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, you will love the characters and it's the kind of movie you're going to want to watch over, and over again. I made a little movie years ago called Somewhere in Time, and people actually wear out their copies of it. This is the kind of movie that people will have the same feeling for.
Excellent. Thank you so much for your time, and best of luck.
Jane Seymour: Thank you.