Michael Cera discusses playing Brink and working with director Sebastian Silva in Magic, Magic, debuting on DVD August 6th
The indie thriller Magic, Magic is one of two movies that Michael Cera starred in for Chilean director Sebastián Silva that were released this year, the first being Crystal Fairy. The actor had to spend months learning how to speak Spanish for this thriller, which features the actor in a type of role we have never seen him portray before, alongside a fantastic cast including Emily Browning, Juno Temple, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Agustín Silva. The story centers on an American (Juno Temple) who mentally unravels during a trip to Chile to visit her cousin (Emily Browning).
Michael Cera plays Brink, an American who has been living in Chile for a few years and can either come off as playful or incredibly creepy, from one moment to the next, in a monumental departure from the delightfully quirky roles we're used to seeing him in. I recently had the chance to speak with Michael Cera over the phone about this unique film, debuting on DVD August 6. Here's what he had to say.
I read that you had to learn Spanish for both this and Crystal Fairy. How long did it take you to get a grasp on the language? It sounded very authentic, like you had been speaking the language for awhile.
Michael Cera: I had actually been studying five days a week for about three months, and we were getting into it. The movie was an excuse for me to really sink my teeth into it, because I had never done that before and I was really interested in doing that. I had this great teacher, I was studying in Pasadena, and then I went to Chile and lived with Sebastián's family for three months, while we were waiting for the funding to come in. I was studying and speaking Spanish the whole time, so by the end of that, I was pretty conversational.
Did actually being in Chile help a lot more than the book learning part of it?
Michael Cera: Yeah, absolutely. It helped being there and being immersed in it, and trying not to speak any English while I was there.
I really enjoyed this movie and watching you play a character like this, something we haven't quite seen from you before. Was that another big draw to the project?
Michael Cera: Yeah, I loved the character. I thought the character was really fascinating in the script, and I also loved how my character and Juno Temple's character effected each other. They would just effect each other so much, with these small gestures that aren't even meant to do anything. It's fun to play.
I spoke with Sebastián (Silva) last week and we were talking about how a lot of other filmmakers might hold the viewer's hand and take you through the story, but here he doesn't really want the audience to know what's going on, if she's just crazy or if they're all assholes.
Michael Cera: Yeah, I think the script conveyed that you never quite understood the reality of the situation, what the truth was, and I think there was never really a clear answer as to what's really going on. No one is really in control of the story or the situations. No one is really manipulating anything, it's just a compatibility issue. That's kind of the crux of the story, a lesson in compatibility between these people and just the bad timing, that she has this nervous breakdown when she's surrounded by people who aren't compassionate enough to help her or recognize her suffering.
You talked about staying at Sebastián's place a few months before shooting started. Were the other cast members around at that time as well? I liked how there was a great established dynamic between the friends (Catalina Sandino Moreno, Agustín Silva, Emily Browning) before Juno Temple's character shows up. Were they throughout the whole time?
Michael Cera: Yeah, me and Agustín were really comfortable with each other. We went on a road trip together into the country. There was just a major comfort level there, and I think that happened with all of us, very quickly, with Juno and Emily and Catalina. We all got along right away, and we were living in this house together. It was just a fun spirit. We were all kind of a family. We were living in this house and we were all immersed in what we were doing.
What can you say about Sebastián's style as both a writer and director, and how his sensibilities stand out, as opposed to other directors you have worked with?
Michael Cera: He really has a strong sense of what he likes, and a strong taste of style and also humanity and authenticity. He has really strong opinions about that. He also has a strong sense of authorship and ownership of his work. He really owns all of his decisions, in a way that's very specific to him. He's also really funny, which I think helps with making a movie like this. You can't make a movie like this without a sense of humor. He's one of the funniest guys I've ever met, and I just love the characters that he chooses to use. He never really goes down well-traveled roads. He likes to explore new things.
When I was talking to Sebastián, he mentioned how disappointed he was that Sony chose not to release this theatrically. On your end, is there any frustration that a story like this isn't getting a theatrical release?
Michael Cera: I wouldn't say frustration. I'd say just disappointment. I'd really like people to see the movie and find it. In reading the script, it is a very particular kind of movie, and I never pictured it really having a major theatrical release, because it's for a specific kind of audience. It's not something that anyone would go to see to have fun for the night. I think it goes into deeper issues and is more complex of a movie. I like going to those movies, and I hope there are those who appreciate it.
Do you know anything about the next season of Arrested Development? Are they working on scripts for that right now, or have you heard about anything that may be happening in the next season?
Michael Cera: I don't know much about that, actually.
Is there anything that you have in development or anything that you have signed on to that you can talk about?
Michael Cera: I don't know, actually. There's nothing at the moment. I'm actually just focusing on moving, at the moment. I'm moving to another city, and that's been a big job (Laughs).
This is quite a different role for you, so is there anything you'd like to say to fans of yours who might be intrigued by Magic, Magic about why they should give this a shot on DVD?
Michael Cera: I hope people see it, you know. I'm really proud of it, and I think if I saw it, I would be excited to discover this movie. I hope that the people that appreciate this type of film, will gravitate toward it.
That's all I have. Thanks so much, Michael. It was great talking to you.
Michael Cera: Thanks, Brian. Have a good one.