In his latest movie Detachment, director Tony Kaye has enlisted the talents of two AMC stars — Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks and Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston. What was it like working with these two actors? Well, he says Cranston could have been Ingmar Bergman’s muse and Hendricks could be the next Streep. Read on to learn more.
Q: What drew you to Detachment?
A: The brilliance of Carl Lund’s writing, and that it would give me the opportunity to work with my daughter Betty Kaye in one of the key roles. I gave her the script when she was 15 years old.
Q: Your movie American History X — about a neo-Nazi — has achieved a kind of cult status. Does Detachment share any themes with that earlier effort?
A: Detachment continues a thread of socially conscious themes. My belief in entertainment with enlightenment. My own enlightenment in learning. I see myself as a student forever in this journey. American History X: tolerance. Lake of Fire: understanding. Detachment: love.
Q: You have an extraordinary ensemble cast in Detachment. What was it like working with such a powerhouse cast?
A: There is no such thing as a powerhouse cast, I don’t like the word powerhouse. There is the right person playing the right role. Then letting the performance artist do their thing, and I work with the result, which is a character. Then I try to empty them.
Q: What was it like working with Bryan Cranston? Was it because of his role in Breaking Bad that you thought of him for this film?
A: Breaking Bad is the best, the greatest, the most amazing thing I have ever watched on television. I saw it after I worked with Bryan. I could have made a whole movie about Bryan’s character — he is so brilliant. There’s no such thing as a small role. Bryan Cranston demonstrates this magnificently here in Detachment. In his fleeting appearance, he says a billion things by virtue of his transmitting. I wish to God Ingmar Bergman was still alive. He would be the perfect director to work with Bryan.
Q: What made you think of Christina Hendricks for the role of Ms. Madison? Can you tell us about her character and what it was like working with her?
A: The role of Ms. Madison is a tough role. It’s an anchor role, not a flashy role. Christina is like an old fashioned movie star. She has that look — absolute classic beauty. Oil-painting beauty. She takes challenging roles, she’s brilliant in Drive — I didn’t even recognize her in the movie. In Detachment, she kind of plays someone who is trapped, lost, looking for something, finds it but does not know how to take it. Kind of like fishing with no hook. All the characters in Detachment have that Venus de Milo vibe — potentially perfect, yet searching for the final realm where “you get it all right.” Just like life, really. Christina Hendricks has the potential to emerge in the years to come as one of the truly great American actresses. Meryl Streep should be her mentor.
Q: Do you have any anecdotes to share about working with either actor?
A: Yeah, when I met Bryan Cranston for the first time in the commissary at Paramount Studios, he apologized for being late. He said he’d been making love to Julia Roberts and could not tear himself away. [Cranston had been shooting a scene in the movie Larry Crowne, starring Roberts and Tom Hanks].
Detachment is available on Movies on Demand Fri., Feb. 24 and opens in theaters Fri., Mar. 16. For more information, visit detachment-film.com.