Actor Ioan Gruffudd talks Fireflies in the Garden, working with Ryan Reynolds, Ringer, and much more.
Ioan Gruffudd has certainly had an intriguing career, from a small role in Titanic, to the Horatio Hornblower series in the U.K., to Mr. Fantastic in Fantastic Four. The actor can currently be seen every Tuesday night on the small screen in CW's Ringer, and he also makes his return to the big screen in Fireflies in the Garden, which hits theaters October 14. I recently had the chance to speak with Ioan Gruffudd over the phone about Fireflies in the Garden, and here's what he had to say.
Can you talk a bit about your initial reaction to the script and what you thought of the character?
Ioan Gruffudd: When I read this script, I was bummed out that I came to it so late, and I wasn't able to go up for the part that Ryan (Reynolds) plays. It's such a fantastic, meaty role, but honestly thrilled to be a part of it at all, because it's such a beautiful script, with these beautiful characters going through this terrible pain and anguish. We all can relate, on some level, to the family stuff and how difficult that can be. I was just proud to be a part of it, to play Julia Roberts' lover, even though we never see that relationship on screen.
This is (writer-director) Dennis Lee's first film. Can you talk a bit about working with him?
Ioan Gruffudd: What's lovely about him is, this is based on his personal account, and when you have a director who has written such a beautiful and eloquent script, quite often, you get a bit of magic in their first attempt. That's what we have here. He has this incredible cast of people in all matter of tiny little roles, myself included. We all responded to the material. With Julia coming on board and being such a champion of it, that validated those decisions. The finished product is really, really beautiful. In my experience, I did another movie with a first-time feature director, he had done a documentary before. That also turned out beautiful and that was called Solomon and Gaenor that I did years ago, which was nominated for Best Foriegn Film back in the day. These movies often can be touched by a little bit of magic.
I talked to Dennis last week, and we spoke about the different versions of this movie, the various run times it went through three or four years ago. Can you talk about those variations? Did you have more screen time in these other versions?
Ioan Gruffudd: To be honest, I am going to see it myself, this latest version. I heard that this has been happening. I certainly saw a very basic rough cut, which was very, very long, too long, really, for it to be a movie, but it was a rough assembly. I can't imagine that I have been cut out that much. What you see on the screen is what I actually shot. It was a very quick cameo. I was there one or two days, so so I'm sure what I did is up there on the screen. I'm sure it's vastly improved from what I saw, which wasn't even a finished movie when I saw it. I had heard that they went back in and re-edited it over the years. I think we all loved it so much, we wanted to get it right, and Dennis wanted to get it right, and get it into the right hands.
He said that he was actually glad that it took so long, because they feel this version is right, and they might not have had the chance to perfect it before.
Ioan Gruffudd: I don't want to speak out of turn, but I'm imagining if you shot the movie and put it together and the response isn't as strong as you hoped, especially because when we were shooting it, there was such a strong response from us all, that says a lot about Dennis himself, that he's able to hold onto it. To put it in the hands of another editor or whatever happened in this situation, and allow it to find its true form. That must be quite tough.
Most of your scenes are with Ryan (Reynolds), and we haven't seen him in dramatic fare like this for some time. Can you talk about your time on the set with him, and what you took away from working with him?
Ioan Gruffudd: Of course, Ryan we all know and love from all of his comedies, and he has this incredible quality of a handsome and very buff leading man, which got him Green Lantern. He's a bona fide movie star, and we all knew he had that potential. The genres of movies he was in, maybe wasn't allowing him to go to those places where he is now at. This was one of those experiences for him. He was doing a lot of those comedies and this came his way, and he's proven himself to be a fantastic dramatic actor as well.
You're working on Ringer right now. Can you talk about your experiences shooting that, or maybe some teasers for upcoming episodes?
Ioan Gruffudd: (Laughs) Teasers. You know, it's funny, whenever there is a show I watch, being able to tune in like that is a treat, when you make that appointment. That's what it's all about, and I know people love spoilers, but it's discovering at the same time as everybody else, what I love about serialized dramas. In our case, because we're weaving all of these intricate stories, it's a bit like Damages, I suppose. We're trying to answer these questions we've posed in the pilot and, of course, in answering them, you pose four new questions (Laughs). It's really quite impressive. We're not pretending we're doing Breaking Bad or Damages. We are doing a CW, film-noir-esque soap opera. We're not pretending otherwise, and we're having a lot of fun doing it.
Is there anything you can say about working with Sarah Michelle Gellar in general?
Ioan Gruffudd: It's amazing, you forget what a powerhouse she is. To have that success, you'd have to compare it to someone on Friends, how recognizable a figure she is, globally. It's really impressive, but more than that, she's an impressive person as well. We both have a lot in common. I have a two-year-old daughter and she has a two-year-old daughter, so we have that in common. She's also an incredible producer at the same time, along with being the leading lady of the show. To feel and sense, during a take even, we'll call cut and she'll go, 'You know, that's not working. We need to change the blocking or change this line.' She has the ability, through all her experience on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to monitor everything that's going on while she's living it in the moment. It's very impressive and I'm very pleased to be playing her husband.
Finally, what would you like to say to anyone who is curious about Fireflies in the Garden, about why they should check it out in theaters October 14?
Ioan Gruffudd: I think, if you're fans of all the comic book superhero movies, you're going to see about four or five people from that world in this movie (Laughs). You've got Mr. Fantastic, Green Lantern, Green Goblin, Hayden Panettiere who was in Heroes and even Carrie-Anne Moss from The Matrix. If we can get those people to watch because of the cast, I think they'll be enlightened as well, because it's a beautiful movie about family and the difficulties and intricacies of those relationships.
Excellent. That's about all I have. Thanks so much for talking to me. It was a pleasure.
Ioan Gruffudd: My pleasure, my pleasure. It was nice to chat with you too.