In March and April 2014, photos began surfacing of a once-blonde Amber Heard rocking long, dusty pink hair, roaming the streets of East Hampton with Christopher Walken and a camera crew not far from her side.Finally, curious onlookers can watch what they were up to.
“When I Live My Life Over Again,” from Brooklyn-based director/screenwriter Robert Edwards—who has frequented the East End for the last decade or so—will screen on Friday, October 9, and Saturday, October 10, at the Hamptons International Film Festival, as part of the “Views from Long Island” programming. The father-daughter tale stars Mr. Walken as Paul Lombard, a famed romantic crooner, and Ms. Heard as Jude, who is struggling to find her own identity when she leaves Manhattan for the wintery Hamptons.
The Press: What was the inspiration behind your script?
Robert Edwards: You know what they say: “Write what you know.” Well, I don’t come from that world, that celebrity life. I wanted a Frank Sinatra-like guy, who’s known for being a great romantic, and yet in his personal life he’s not so good with the opposite sex or his children. It’s no shock to anyone that a celebrity is a deeply narcissistic individual and tied up in ego and who they are, and not that supportive of anyone around them. So I started thinking about that and imagined what it would be like for a child of someone like that, growing up in his shadow.
I wrote it around 2008. It’s very different from the stuff I usually write, most of which is more political, or a lot of espionage stuff. And this was just a real departure from all of that. I wrote it on a lark and didn’t show it to anyone for a few years. It didn’t seem like something people would be looking for—from me, anyway.
Why did you change your mind?
Edwards: It was a script that was one of my favorites that was in the back of my mind. When the time was right to do something like this, I immediately jumped on it. I just think it’s a story that is not perishable. Those family dynamics are eternal and I hope they are people that everyone can relate to, even though they’re in the Hamptons.
Why did you decide to set the film on the East End?
Edwards: I really like the idea of being in a place where you’re sort of isolated, especially in the off-season. The whole crew lived in a hotel not even a mile away. We took over the whole thing. It was very … [Laughs] It was a camp-like environment.
We needed a distinctive modernist house with a large main room and a big backyard, which we found in Shinnecock. Physically, it was exactly what I had in mind when I was writing, and it was for sale. That was good for our art department to come in and redecorate.
The decor is truly something, particularly the massive portraits of Christopher Walken high up on the living room wall.
Edwards: When we saw that wall, it was actually empty, and we had this idea of putting those up there. If you’re a guy like that character, who’s very invested in his persona, naturally, you’d live in a house where there are five enormous portraits of you looking down on everything that happened.
Did you always envision Walken as the lead?
Edwards: Well, he’s just the perfect guy to play this part. On the page, the character can be pretty harsh. He can be pretty hard on his daughters and downright unlikeable. So you need an actor who can counter that, who can bring charm, and Christopher Walken does that in spades. He’s so charismatic. When we were editing the film, we had trouble making people feel the negative things Paul was doing.
What were their reactions instead?
Edwards: We’d show it to audiences and trusted friends, and they’d say, “He’s so charming and so likable.” They weren’t on Jude’s side at all. Nothing we could do would make them dislike Paul. He could whip out a chainsaw and chop off Jude’s head, and they’d say, “He’s so charming.”
How did you direct him?
Edwards: He’s made 150 movies. You don’t have to give him a lot of direction. Ask him for a different interpretation or a different shade, and he can do it 12 different ways. He really has a strong understanding of editing, which not all actors do. That let us fine-tune the performance.
Where did that come in handy?
Edwards: During the most challenging scenes, logistically, at the big dinner table and those big conversations. There were three of them. We planned them like the Normandy invasion. We had story boards and charts and diagrams because we had to figure out how to have all the camera angles, who was looking at who when and how we were going to cover it. And the editing was tricky. We wanted to create overlapping dialogue to give the feeling of real life.
In movies, people say lines and the next people say lines. In real life, people are stumbling and talking over each other. We wanted that feeling and it’s surprisingly hard. I was lucky. I had great actors who took to it. Not everything said in the movie is driving the plot forward, like they teach you in screenwriting class.
“When I Live My Life Over Again” will screen on Friday, October 9, at 1 p.m. at Guild Hall in East Hampton. An encore screening will be held on Saturday, October 10, at 5 p.m. at Sag Harbor Cinema. Tickets are $28. For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.
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