|Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet in Mysterious Skin.
FILMMAKER: Were you familiar with Gregg Araki’s work before working with him? Did you seek him out or did he seek you out?
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: I got the script the same way I get any other script, and I had not seen any of Gregg’s movies beforehand. But I bought two of his movies and...it was very exciting because when you watch his movies you could tell he has a great sense of making things look beautiful and sound exciting. He knows about music and he knows about color.
FILMMAKER: I think Mysterious Skin is one of his most powerful films that I’ve seen. It doesn’t pull any punches.
GORDON-LEVITT: He wants to make movies about stuff people are afraid to talk about.
FILMMAKER: Would you say that’s what interested you, too?
GORDON-LEVITT: Well that’s a really deep stake for movies...and uh, sure.
FILMMAKER: I read somewhere that you went to Kansas to actually record voices prior to production?
GORDON-LEVITT: Yeah, I wanted to go and see what people are like and hear how they talk. I met a couple of really nice people in Kansas City. I hung out with them for a couple of days and videotaped them.
FILMMAKER: And then you brought back the voices for some of the other actors?
GORDON-LEVITT: Yeah, I made a CD of some of the sounds from the video camera.
FILMMAKER: Do you always do that kind research for a role? How much do you engage yourself with a role before a movie actually starts?
GORDON-LEVITT: Oh, that’s everything — like months before. For me, it’s all about the work that you give beforehand. When you’re filming and you’re giving it your all you really can’t be working. You can’t be trying to act like this or that or you’ll just look like you’re acting.
FILMMAKER: Have you ever put together a soundtrack for a character?
GORDON-LEVITT: Yeah — it’s like, tool number one. If I’m doing a scene where I really want to build on some sort of memory that I’ve had, then I’ll look for music that will bring back some memories. Sometimes the music is not even that specific...just music that gets you hyped, that gets you up and excited.
FILMMAKER: Was there a part of you that was nervous when you were doing the film about how people might react?
GORDON-LEVITT: Um, nah... The movie’s really sexy but the sexy scenes are not “sex scenes.” Sex scenes don’t really have anything to do with a story, they’re just excuses to see the actors naked. But in Mysterious Skin, they tell the story. They’re not sex scenes. My character doesn’t talk that much; you get more of what’s going on through the action.
FILMMAKER: You seem very conscious of non-verbal behavior...straight down to the character’s walk. Is that something you work on?
GORDON-LEVITT: It wasn’t so calculated. Mysterious Skin was more about taking a trip to Kansas, listening to good music and, I don’t know, just kind of getting into that mindset and not really paying much attention to things like that. One of the first times Gregg and I sat down together was after I was going to do the movie and I told him about the stuff I had highlighted in the novel and the thoughts I had. And he listened to everything I had to say, but in the end he was like, “Don’t think about it too much. You’re alright.”
Cam Archer talks with Brady Corbet.
FILMMAKER: Do you believe in aliens?
BRADY CORBET: I think it’s probably kind of ridiculous to think of us as the only living things in the universe. But I don’t really believe they’re dropping down in Bumfuck, Alabama. It’s like, why would they want to go there?
FILMMAKER: Tell me about your character. Did you find yourself looking into yourself to relate to the character or did you look to people you’ve known?
CORBET: I try not to get overly heady about anything I do...
FILMMAKER: So you just like slip into the role?
CORBET: When it comes to acting, if there’s something I respond to in the material, there’s obviously something in me that really gets it and identifies in one way or another — but not necessarily in this big “Oh, I was sexually abused as a child” way, but in terms of loneliness or not really knowing how to communicate, definitely. When I was younger I had a problem with men because my mother is a single mother and I’m an only child. And not having men around all the time I had a really hard time interacting with other men. And, umm, so this is — my character has a really hard time interacting with any kind of sexuality, so I could relate to him. But it’s not something I was thinking about while filming; it was a matter of just feeling, being able to emote or whatever, you know — if that’s what you were asking.
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