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November 2007
An Interview with Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers

An Interview with Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers
By Wilson Morales

November 26, 2007

With a starring role in 'Waitress' earlier this year and glowing reviews as Henry VIII in Showtime's The Tudors, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are having quite a prosperous year individually. Funny enough, these two have worked on the same project but didn’t appear together when they were featured opposite Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible III'. Together again since then, they are romantically linked as characters who can't find a way to be together until a little boy and the sound of music draws them nearby in 'August Rush', which also features Freddy Highmore, Robin Williams, and Terrence Howard. In speaking with blackfilm.com, both Russell and Meyers discussed working together, the feeling of love, and learning to appreciate music.

Did you two discuss how you viewed your characters?

Keri Russell: You go first... We went through with this at "Mission Impossible III."

Jonathan Rhys Meyers: I play Louis Connelly, who is a singer/songwriter. I didn't want him to be one. He's just a regular singer/songwriter, a guy who likes to play music and makes a living "gigging." He's not much of a star, because that puts it into a different thing altogether. So he's playing some gigs with his brother, and they're out in a party in New York. He's one of those guys who are a little bit despondent. And he's sitting outside and meets Lyla Novacek, a beautiful young girl who just comes wandering on the roof. Coincidentally. On screen we have a smooch, but actually it was more than that [laughs].

KR: [laughs] I'll say.

JRM: Babies don't come from smooching. I learned that on the movie.

Q: Did you both create a backstory for your characters so that their falling in love so quickly seemed  possible?

KR: I play Lyla Novacek, she [starts as] a child soloist--a cellist. She has a very sheltered life, she is definitely a child performer who doesn't have a normal childhood. The first time you break out and experience something like this on a rooftop, it lends itself to go all the way.

Q: So do you believe in love at first sight?

JRM: I do. I fell in love at first sight once. I ended up going out with the girl for a few years. It was a very strange thing. It wasn't like thunderbolts and lightening, it was more like a sickly feeling. It was rather uncomfortable. It was very factual, like the sky is blue, when it rains it wet--I was in love.

Q: And you?

KR: Love at first sight. Hmmm. I think more in an innate knowing.

Q: Well you're married. When did you know [you were in love] with him?

KR: I'm still not sure. [laughs] No, I'm just kidding. I just knew there was something that was interest. I was single for three years and soon I was intrigued by him. I called my girlfriends and they told me to "Go back! And talk to him!" I said, "It's so embarrassing, I can't go back."

Q: This movie isn't strictly about love at first sight. You somehow knew instinctually that there was something extra. An extra element. How did you guys address that?

KR: When you have a child with someone and it's for life. Whether you hate the person or you love the person, it's for life. So you're bound to that person in fate and everything. The other thing really about this film is that everything is told in magic and magic helps usher everything along.

Q: How did you feel about the connection beyond the first love? Did you think your character felt it somehow as well?

JRM: Yeah. I think he recognizes in in Lyla the same despondence. So you find these people in this life. People like you. Definitely the opposite sides of things, but kind of mirror images. I want something more, but I can't tell you what it is. I'll know when I find it, but I'm very aware of the process of looking. Once Lyla gets into the plaza and goes away, Lewis thinks he's been dumped. Because he's from the criminal classes. I wouldn't even say he's from working class, he's from criminal class.

KR: [laughs]

JRM: So he sees her get into the limo and he thinks, "Ok, rich girl. Didn't want to know, just went slumming'..." So he's hurt by this because he really thought something could have happened. It's an age old story. And that sense of something else...he can't get it out of his head. Every time he hears a cello, that's coming right into his head. The reason he goes back is because he wants a definitive. You know, "Where have you been?"

KR: [laughs]

JRM: You know? He just wants something. I think that's what the search is. He's looking for something that he doesn't even know exists. That's a hard search.

Q: The way people react to music is such an important part of the movie. How does music influence both of you?

KR: Most of my scenes in the movie are by myself. There were scenes in the movie where I was by myself and Kirsten [Sheridan] would blast a certain song and just blare it so loud and we would just use that in the scene. Not necessarily in the movie, but for me, to set the mood.

I love music. I play music much more than I watch TV. We sing, play guitar, go to sleep with the baby. It's a big part of our life.

JRM: I'm part of the I-Pod generation. I've got 10,000 tracks from all over the world.

Q: You can sing and play though.

JRM: I could sing and play as well. I've got some brothers, one of them is the drummer in the band. They're good musicians. I play for fun, they play properly.  I grew up in a house of musicians. Everybody's life has a soundtrack, I'm sitting here talking to you but there are horns beeping outside and I know I'm in New York. That's an element in the film as well. How strong that sense can be.

Q: Was there any specific songs that helped you find your characters in the film?

KR: Kirsten played a few songs. There were a few singer/songwriter songs that she played, that I wasn't familiar with. I love the end piece. They actually wrote before casting anyone. Years prior. Most of my music listening was the Bach piece I had to do. [mimics the song] Da da da dum dum dum da. [laughs] Oh my god, if I hear that song again I'm going to die!

JRM: I listen to Van Morrisson's Bleeding Feast a lot. Linda Arden. I listened to Bach as well, but I like Goldberg Variations. I'd listen to some organ pieces for the organ scenes. So I listen to a little bit of that and felt a a bit high brow. But at the end of the day it was good ol' rock and roll. Some of the Poges. Despondent Irish abroad, a little bit of the Dropkick Murphys.

Q: Is that you really singing in the movie?

JRM: Yeah.

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