The legendary six-time Oscar winner Arthur Cohn teamed up with British director Udayan Prasad to produce The Yellow Handkerchief, an indie drama hitting theaters nationwide this weekend. The film highlights the lives of three strangers who, through an odd series of events, end up on a road trip through post-Katrina Louisiana in search of a little livin’.
The film was shot two years ago, so it’s easy to assume that the only thing responsible for scoring it’s distribution is the international recognition of co-star Kristen Stewart, who plays Martine, a disaffected teen. Thanks, Twilight! Still, the rest of the cast is pretty stellar with William Hurt, Maria Bello, and Eddie Redmayne whom we had the privilege of sitting down with at a recent press conference.
Kristen, what about the character of Martine resonated with you?
Kristen Stewart: I could relate to her in that she’s a typical girl who really wants to be out there, and smiling, and totally in the middle of whatever’s going on, but has sort of been embarrassed too many times and can’t do it anymore. I feel like she’s sort of isolated herself in terms of…she put herself above everyone else. They’ve let her down too many times. She realizes through this journey [which is such a cool thing to see such a young person go through], to go ‘Oh God, I never looked at you, and now I’m opening my eyes and can see you.’ I liked that.
William is notorious for doing crazy research for his roles. How do you prepare?
KS: I learned that I was a fairly impulsive actress. If I felt something I didn’t need to sit down and go, ‘this is why, this is why, this is why’ – the thing is, the whole rehearsal process, it was just about understanding.
William, some of your most poignant scenes involved little to no dialogue, but they still revealed worlds about your character.
William Hurt: Showing and telling is really not acting. I think telling people what to think and feel is the opposite of what we’re supposed to do. The idea is to live inside your character -we live inside ourselves, we all do. That’s a staple of being human. There’s a difference between telling a story and living a story. The idea is that if you’re really earning your respect from the audience, my character is living through a situation that you would believe. You have to ask yourself, do I really believe that this behavior is appropriate? Do I believe in that? I ask myself on every page and every word – is this true? Is this a true indication of human nature? You won’t identify with me unless I’m as individual as you are.
Eddie, how difficult was it for a Brit to develop a southern twang?
Eddie Redmayne: When I got this job I said to Arthur Cohn, we WILL need a dialect coach. You can generalize anything, you can try and give something that will sell as being of an area – but it’s important that when you’re playing someone, and you respect the character you’re playing, you try to play it as truthfully as you can.
Thus far in your career you’ve primarily acted in period pieces. What was it like to finally appear in a contemporary piece?
ER: For some reason the way you look, speak, something about your personality draws you. I’ve got sort of a bi-polar career. When I got this script I thought they were insane to ask me to audition for it. I thought, I’m SO far from this character, let’s have fun with it.
What was it like to film in Louisiana post-Katrina?
Maria Bello: It was right after Katrina, so many of the neighborhoods were devastated. Most of the people we worked with were affected in some way by Katrina. But the gorgeous thing is that there’s such a resilience, and life force, and culture in New Orleans. The people were incredibly inspiring.
William Hurt: Being in the south is like being in the cauldron of American poetry, jazz, expression – so it’s already there. But then they’d had this tragedy, it was amazing to see their character.
And there you have it – the cast of The Yellow Handkerchief! Check back for our official ScreenCrave review!The Yellow Handkerchief hits theaters on February 26th in limited release.