Last month we visited Los Angles and attended the #ThisIsLoving Press Event to celebrate the opening of LOVING. In addition to attending an advanced screening of the film, we also had the opportunity to sit down with members of the cast and the film’s director to learn more about the production and how the project came together.
Have you read Part 1 of our EXCLUSIVE Cast Interview?
Loving celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving (portrayed in the film by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), who fell in love and were married in 1958. Through the trials and tribulations, to put it mildly, that they faced through the years there is one thing that remained the same … their commitment to each other and their family.
This is one of the most interesting panels that I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on because the entire time we focused on real issues that are still very real and vivid in our world today. The trials and tribulations that I mentioned above are things that many of us thought were from a time long ago but this year, more than ever, we have been reminded of how real these struggles really are. Today, we are continuing with Part 2 of our EXCLUSIVE Cast Interview. Enjoy!
LOVING Interview ~ Part II
Ruth Negga (“Mildred Loving”), Joel Edgerton (“Richard Loving”), Terri Abney (“Garnet”), and Director Jeff Nichols
HOW THIS FILM WILL AFFECT A YOUNGER GENERATION
QUESTION: As I was watching the film, all I kept thinking was how great it would be for everyone to see this movie. But I also kept thinking about how this film would affect people between the ages of twelve and 18. So what would you like people in that age group to take away from the movie?
JEFF: Hmm. I’ll jump in real fast, ‘cause you know, I graduated from Little Rock Central High, site of the desegregation crisis in ’57. I graduated in ’97. We’re actually going to take the film back there, in mid-November, and hopefully I think we’re going to have a field trip like screening for the entire school. Well, not the entire school, it’s too big, but portion of the school. I’m fascinated to see how this story impacts them, or resonates with them, or doesn’t. I think it’s going to be very interesting but, I think the message for kids is probably the same message for adults; it’s a pretty universal one.
JEFF: Which is the idea that you need to remember the people at the center of all these issues. If these kids go home and they hear their parents having political debates or religious debates, whatever it is, those so often don’t have anything to do with people. That’s what I kind of want people walking out of the theater thinking about is, I don’t know how I feel about gay marriage, but gosh, if they’re as sincere and as in love as Richard and Mildred, maybe I need to open my mind up to the possibility.
JOEL: Yeah, my-my niece is only eight, she couldn’t care less about any of the movies I’ve ever done. Now, by the way, she would never really get to see most of them because they’re too violent or the content of them for whatever reason. But you know, she’s also fishing around online and it’s impossible to get her out of the iPod or the iPad at the moment. Whether her mother showed her the trailer for Loving, or she found it herself, or she watched it with a friend or something, she’s been at me about wanting to see.
Well, she asked her mother would it be okay, would she be allowed to see this movie? And I think there’s something that she’s curious about in it. She’s a product of an interracial couple, in her father’s Japanese and her mother is Australian. But there’s obviously something there and I remember thinking okay, most movies I’m not allowed to show young people that I’m involved in and I thought, I think she can see it. And I think that in many ways, children, I think will view this and probably look at us and go, well what was the problem?
JOEL: Yeah, because at some point, I think children do see color and they do see otherness.
JOEL: I used to say the opposite, the children don’t see color. I think they do. They just don’t know how to value judgement in a negative fashion to it. Someone has to teach them that.
TERRI: Yeah. You know, I think that it’s interesting that this story isn’t taught in schools, and I did my last year of high school in Virginia, and so I learned about it in Virginia history, but before that, I never learned about it in DC and I didn’t learn about it in college.
It shows us that we pick and choose what to teach and what we think the idea of historical figures are. Like you said, this is a love story. And so at the center and the core of these people, love was the basis, they didn’t set out to be civil rights leaders and they could care less about it. They wanted to go home, they wanted to be with their family, and they were extremely brave, they risked everything for love.
If we as people just love a little more, every day, if I decide to get up in the morning and maybe do an act of generosity, or smile at someone, we can change the world. You know, I consider myself Christian, and so if I’m a Christian, and we learn about darkness in the Bible and darkness can be equated to hate. Right? If you turn a light on, in a room, darkness evaporates. And it’s the same with love. In order to eradicate hate in the world, we have to start with loving.
I don’t know if, because we are who we are, and we’re not having conversations about why we hate people, or if I don’t like a person who practices same sex practices, or they’re in an interracial relationship, or a person of color, or an individual from Asia because you know, let’s face it, we’re not looking at these things only in America, they’re universal issues, and these universal issues can be changed through love.
Um, and maybe we can’t change that, but if we start the conversation, and then we pour into children whether or not those kids are twelve to 18 because some of them, the cycle might not be broken, I think it actually starts in elementary school, when children are like sponges and they’re willing to absorb everything because like you said, your niece, she’s eight, and she’s not thinking about, she’s not going to takeaway, she’s going to ask, well what was the problem? That’s when we have the conversation. So that we can start to change their mind sets because we’re no longer the future. The children, they’re the future, and they’re going to be the individuals to really make a difference in the world. And it starts with us deciding to have a conversation.
WHY THEY TOOK ON THEIR ROLE
QUESTION: I would love to hear why each of you decided to take upon your role. What drew you to your part?
JOEL: Everything. Maybe the nice thing to relay would be that when Jeff told me about the project, and illuminated Richard and Mildred’s story for me, I didn’t, like a lot of people, know about them, and I saw what an amazing story it was. And how special it was and how, I mean on a personal level as an actor, what a great gift that would be, a great challenge. I got very nervous that any of the different obstacles of Hollywood would get in the way of the movie being made.
Or the finances wouldn’t come together or someone who held the money would say that I couldn’t do the movie. It had to be somebody else. It just became that thing that was, the real challenge was, and it wasn’t that hard, was just pushing everybody out of the way while we waited to make the movie. Because I just didn’t want to not be around and not be available to do this, no matter how small a project it might feel like. It felt much bigger than anything else that was possible on a job.
RUTH: You didn’t harm anyone else. You didn’t get rid of the competition.
JOEL: Well. Okay, now.
RUTH: You suggested a quiet shove.
JOEL: It doesn’t only happen in ice skating. Well you know, they got those star maps, they can find you, you know what I mean. You just find them, you just go, and like you do a lift there.
RUTH: Yeah. It worked out, it worked out.
I just fell in love with this couple. Like Jeff said, I felt that it’s the greatest love story ever, that’s never been told. I’d read Mildred’s obituary for 2008, it was a thin sliver of an obituary and it, and I was reading it, and I was like, this is a fascinating story, and a fascinating family and it was a picture of Mildred with her eye patch, because she lost an eye in a car accident. With the three kids, Donald, Sydney, and Peggy with Peggy holding one of her children. This is like in the 70s, and I was fascinated with this, and they said that they changed the Constitution of the United States and I thought no they couldn’t have, because otherwise we’d know. But they did, and we didn’t know and that always struck me.
Then I watched snippets of the documentary, and I eventually watched it in full and I just was flabbergasted. I was really floored by this couple, both individually by their individual spirit, but their love for each other, the air is thick with this love for one another in the documentary. And I think that that was very important for us, we wanted to capture that and you know, recreate that. It was so beautiful.
It was a kind of love that I know Jeff talks about that you kind of are sort of a bit thirsty for, you know, ‘cause it’s not the kind of melodramatic sort of cliché kind of love. It’s a real soulful love. And I’m like, you know, they really liked one another. They really respected one another. Watching them interact, you realize that they treated one another as true equals. I was incredibly moved by that, by them and their just innate goodness. The goodness is coming off them in sheets.
You can feel that when you see the documentary, the privilege was all mine, and I was determined to play Mildred because I really did feel connected to her, and I don’t think I’m unique in that. I just thought that I could potentially play this woman.
A MISSING SCENE?
QUESTION: Was there a scene that you shot for the movie that was cut for one reason or another, that you wish was still in there?
JEFF: No. Sorry, it’s a boring answer to a good question, because that has happened on every film that I’ve ever made. There’s been some integral part, it’s usually about two thirds of the way through the film. And as soon as I lift it out, the movie just starts to work. It happened in Midnight Special, it happened in Mud, it happened in Take Shelter. Uh, it didn’t happen in Shotgun Stories. This film honestly is the most precise thing I’ve ever directed in my life. And the execution from script to screen, I haven’t been involved in something that laid out as truthfully to what was written on the page.
To what’s the final product and that’s a big credit to the three people sitting up here, they were able to take what was on the page, and manifest it in every instance, so there was never this moment of like wow, they just didn’t show up that day. I’m going to have to cut around that, because that point isn’t salient enough, these people absorbed very much what was written in lines of action, not dialogue.
Behavioral kind of notations that we can all talk about and understand. You’re nervous here. You’re frustrated here. You’re sad here. Your mind can know those things. But to be able to process them, through your brain, into your heart and out of your pores, that’s why these guys get paid the big bucks.
TERRI: Credit to Jeff, in his writing, in his screenplay, because it’s so precise that it’s kind of, you don’t really need anything else, like I’ve never read a screenplay that I thought-that was perfect. And this was. It was like reading when you read a Shakespeare or you read Nipson [PH], or you read Beckett, you know, there’s nothing you would add or takeaway, and I felt very much that about this screenplay. And for an actor, that’s a gift, because you know you don’t need to go off piece, it’s all there.
JOEL: It happens all the time right, they make movies and they’re not showing what they’re doing. It’s like going on a holiday and not knowing really what your destination is. It’s like, oh we’ll work that out down the line. You know, when you get something that’s already so thoughtfully laid out, and then everybody knows what they’re trying to do together. Right? It was great.
There was so much love and depth that was shared during a very short period time with an amazing group. I hope their words gave you as much to think about as they did me. And, I hope our conversation encourages you to take your family and head to the theater.
DON’T FORGET TO SEE OUR 5 REASONS TO SEE LOVING!
LOVING is NOW PLAYING in theaters EVERYWHERE.
Richard and Mildred’s story showed us that love is stronger than hate and has the power to spark real change. To learn more about film and the #VoteLoving campaign, visit VoteLoving.com.
Follow LOVING to participate and help love change the world!
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Jon Bass, and Michael Shannon
Written and Directed By: Jeff Nichols
Distributor: Focus Features
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I was sent on an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles to cover the LOVING Event with Focus Features. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own.