VOD Spotlight: Linda CardelliniApril 05, 2012
On Demand Weekly's VOD Spotlight highlights stories from the On Demand industry. Chris Claro interviews "Freaks and Geeks" alumnus, Linda Cardellini about RETURN (Focus World). Read our review of the film here.
Linda Cardellini got her first taste of fame as a cast member on Judd Apatow’s fondly remembered “Freaks And Geeks,” a show that also unleashed Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segel. Cardellini went on to appear in both popcorn flicks such as the SCOOBY-DOO movies, and work in supporting roles in more upscale fare like BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. She joined the cast of ER and stayed with the show until its finale.
Now Cardellini is starring in Liza Johnson’s RETURN as a National Guardswoman coming home from a tour in Afghanistan. Cardellini spoke to On Demand Weekly about the film.
On Demand Weekly: How did you and Liza connect for this project?
Linda Cardellini: I read Liza’s script and thought it was such an amazing role. Then we met and really hit it off. I thought she was really special and her vision was unique, with the story about coming home from war and being about a woman. We had about a year and a half before the movie got made, so we started researching together and talking on the phone a lot. We took the time to travel and research and at the time if felt like a nuisance that we couldn’t make the film right away, but it turned out to be a luxury in being able to research it. And, since I’m on screen the entire time, it really helped that we had that time together to build a bond and to trust each other.
Linda Cardellini / RETURN (Focus World)
ODW: Can you describe how you and Liza worked together on such a powerful story?
LC: Sometimes, with first-time directors, you don’t know what to expect. But I was very fortunate with the level of trust we had. We had spent so much time together that we developed a shorthand for what we wanted to do with the project. And it was very cooperative and we communicated very well. I think she’s a really wonderful human being on top of being a gifted artist.
ODW: What was the production process like?
LC: The shoot schedule was about 21 days. It was very, very fast and I didn’t get much of a break because I’m on screen every minute. It was very ambitious and incredible for that reason because, for me, to have time off screen wouldn’t have been that much of a benefit, other than getting more rest, but it was good because it kept me in it.
ODW: What kind of research did you do to create the character?
LC: Liza and I spoke with psychologists, including one who had donated time after retirement to counsel returning men and women because she realized there was a need there that wasn’t being filled. So she started this amazing network of people who help with counseling. We went to military bases and did some basic training things that actually aren’t even in the movie. And we just tried to fill Kelli’s mind with all the things with all the things that could’ve, should’ve, would’ve filled her mind.
ODW: Did you screen any other movies about returning veterans such as THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES or COMING HOME?
LC: Liza didn’t want me to watch too much of what had already been done. I watched a couple of documentaries, including “Lioness” about women in combat and I met with those filmmakers and talked to them about it. And I also watched BROTHERS with Tobey Maguire, which is a completely different take on what we did because one of the veterans told me that that movie best portrayed how you felt when you came back.
ODW: Your character, Kelli, comes home to her two small daughters and a husband, played by Michael Shannon. How would you describe her?
LC: Kelli is a strong person who’s in a transitional point in her life: she left one way and came back a different way and doesn’t know how to put the pieces together. She’s a survivor who takes her duty and commitments very seriously. Although she ends up making some bad choices, I think she’s really doing everything for her children and her family and trying the best that she knows how, but she’s lost her way.She was a different person when she went to war than when she came back. I think the same person is in there somewhere and she’s searching for that and so are the people around her, but she’s changed in a way that she can’t explain.
ODW: In addition to Michael Shannon, the supporting cast includes real-life married couple – and MAD MEN co-stars – Talia Balsam and John Slattery.
Linda Cardellini, Michael Shannon / RETURN (Focus World)
LC: Everybody was so game to do anything for the film and it was so enriching for the life of my character to be in scenes with people who were so fantastic. Liza let us be really loose so we had a lot of time to explore, even though our schedule was tight. The interaction between Slattery’s character and mine is so important because you get to see a side of Kelli that you don’t that you didn’t know existed where she can talk and have fun and open up and have this sort of intimate relationship with somebody. It’s also incredibly heartbreaking.
ODW: What would you want audiences to take away from RETURN?
LC: I hope it creates a conversation about veterans and maybe brings about more communication with people when they come home. For me, it was an education, not only as an actress, but as an American. The military represents so many Americans that trying to understand what happens to them when they go to war is important.
ODW: How do you think VOD can help a film like RETURN?
LC: I think it’s great because it puts the film in more people’s homes. The business has really changed. It used to be that things came out on DVD or VOD much later after they ran theatrically. Now it’s simultaneous sometimes. People are more apt to stay home and watch films.
We’re really proud of RETURN
and the idea that people can see it in their homes,
on demand, whenever they feel like it,
that’s a great thing.
And I hope people take advantage of it.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
Look for RETURN (Focus World) in your local cable movies on demand section.
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