Marley and Me hits theaters everywhere Christmas Day. As some of you may know from my review, I think this is a good film, but by no means a kids film like it’s being advertised. Luckily ScreenCrave had a chance to join a press conference with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson to talk about these issues and more.
Both actors started off the interview a bit withheld, but who could blame them. They’ve both been the victim of tabloid scrutiny for some time now. Bottom line, they’re both good actors who did really great work in this film. They were both charming and more than happy to talk about the film, their success, and even how they feel about the marketing of the film.
So check it out below and decide for yourself if Marley and Me is the film for you…
The book “Marley and Me” has been extremely successful, what do you think is the appeal behind the story of Marley?
OW: It’s strange because it does seem that’s its not just America. In Argentina they love the book. There’s something in the story that has a sort of universal appeal that people can connect with
JA: And it’s a true story you know. It’s a simple story and I think people go to movies and they escape with these big crazy plotlines and here this is a movie where people area actually going like ‘that’s me’ or ‘I did that’ ‘I walked through that.
OW: The connection…
JA: The simplicity of it.
One of the things I really like about this movie is that its sort of like a romantic comedy after marriage, which you so rarely see. So many times marriage in the suburbs is portrayed as miserable and this was not the case.
OW: Yeah it is true it seems like every time you see a marriage its always this like struggle but in our scene I’m trying to say “everything is ok” and your like “really” its like you don’t really believe it .
This film deals with pregnancy after pregnancy and how it effects one’s life. Was there anything about that, that attracted you to the role?
OW: How many times have you played…
JA: I have been pregnant in so many movies its ridiculous.
OW: It’s like Lady Madonna.
JA: The reason I wanted to be in this movie was exactly what you just said. It wasn’t the sort of girl trying to get the guy or the guy trying to get the girl or the chase where they ride off into the sunset. This is sort of the sequel to that. Where you get to see the in’s and outs of a relationship and see them over fifteen years. See this sort of human thread that takes you through and have it be funny just because life is funny. I just loved it I responded to the material.
Jen, you seem to jump effortlessly from genre to genre from independent to mainstream. Do you find it challenging to find the kinds of projects that really get you going creatively?
JA: Yeah sure it’s hard if your specific and picky. I’ve been lucky to have things come to me that creatively fulfill me and those are usually the independent films because you have a little bit more freedom but this sort of rare film [Marley and Me] hits all the notes. It was unbelievably creatively fulfilling. It’s a mainstream film and I loved everybody I worked with. This one was sort of a home run they don’t always all happen that way.
Are success and luck the same thing for you? How do you look at it?
JA: I don’t know. I never sat there and plotted out how I was going to become successful or famous. I just wanted to work and do good work since I was at a high school of performing arts and my Russian acting coach told me I was a disgrace to the Moscow acting theatre [laughter]. I was determined to prove him wrong and do good work and I think I never had my eye on a prize I just wanted to enjoy the passage of time. Before friends and the success of that I have a graveyard of sitcoms that thank god you all don’t know about them. I was happy to get a job every year whether or not it went on or not.
The reason this movie worked so well was because of the chemistry between you two, how did you two prepare that? Did you know each other before the film began?
OW: We didn’t really know each other when the movie began, we just met in passing. I think it was more like in rehearsal just early on feeling like we were on the same page with how we felt things should go. The thing about chemistry… it’s sort if the movie does well than you have great chemistry [laughs]
Your roles were based off the lives of two real people, which have both said you did an amazing job. How did you go about representing real people who are still around to see the film?
JA: That was the material. It was on the page. It was something that was extremely important to us because the book had such an audience and such a fan base and there are two people that are actually here on the planet and you want to honor their story.
OW: They came and visited early on and it was kind of strange but it was like nerve-racking. Like ” I wonder what he’s thinking about me playing him” but they came a few times and they were just kind of…
JA: So sweet.
OW: Especially john. He was easy to get along with. But like what [Jennifer] was saying, it was on the page, stuff kind of made sense.
There were a lot of extremely emotional scenes in the movie, such as the final scene where you give up your necklace, how were those to shoot?
JA: Those were really hard. That was the last two weeks for me of shooting so it was kind of fortunate that that came at the end because you don’t always get to shoot in order. Those were the days where I couldn’t read the sides in the morning at the trailer because I was just bubbling over with emotion. I was just sort of hoping that I would be able to look at the lines while I was on set and remember them.
OW: Yeah I think that it was funny, I knew those scene were coming up and I was kinda nervous like ‘gosh I hope I feel something’ so they don’t have to get out those fake tears that they do. The glycerin that was on stand by. But I didn’t really need it because as soon as you see this dog it was hard not to start getting kind of emotional. So that was nice about the movie that the situations didn’t feel ever contrived. Everything seemed kind of relatable so it wasn’t difficult to kind of understand what he’s feeling.
The end was rather unrelenting and extremely hard to take for audiences, especially for young viewers. At any point did you worry about going too far with the “reality” of the situations?
OW: We were talking last night and in being true to the book, it really wasn’t a choice you had to tell the story and honor that story. And there is something beautiful about being together for a family for the whole cycle of a life and not shying away from that.
***Spoiler*** I have a problem with the way the film is being marketed. The dog dies, there is a miscarriage and all of which are done very well, but it’s not really a kids film. What would you say to a parent wanting to know if they should take their child to see the film?
OW: I would think its ok to say there are real life issues. It’s funny because we’ve been doing the press junket and I’ll think “am I supposed to give away what happens?” But again were kind of telling the story that the book told and you know you hope that people appreciate that. I guess that’s just something for parents to decide. As an adult you underestimate kids ability to deal with stuff or how much they do soak up.
When I left the theater I couldn’t help but think of this as the Old Yellar of our generation. Have you ever thought about it like that?
OW: This is Old Yellar sort of a benchmark and you hope that you can raise your game up to that so its good then if you thought about that.
Do either of you own any dogs?
JA: I have a dog. I have an adopted dog. I almost adopted the dog that was in the poster. What was the name of that dog?
OW: Chud?! [laughter] There were so many dogs playing Marley that it was like a Vietnam movie where you didn’t want to get to close. You knew that that dog might not be there the next day.
One of the greatest things about dogs is their unconditional love but also they live in the present and have you guys learned to do that?
OW: I think thats the great thing about being with, having a dog is it kind of forces you to be in the present because that’s definitely where they’re spending their time.
What was it like working with the dogs on the set and did having dogs help you in the process?
JA: Well, I think it helped only because I wasn’t afraid of dogs but honestly he was so easy to work with. I would say the younger Marley’s were a little bit more challenging for the trainers. We had a ball, we never had a hard time.
Was there any scene that was difficult or took a long time to get?
JA: The scene where we were taking him to get neutered. That was definitely a challenging scene in the car ’cause you also have Matilda in the back seat, the trainer. A lot of action for the dog
OW: Clyde was always good at getting his stuff. Getting the puppy to imitate…
JA: It was harder…
OW: …like he was going to the bathroom. That took a long time [laughter] cause he had a stool that he had to sit on. They were going to I guess green screen it.
JA: Don’t give it away.