“Armageddon Time,” writer/director James Gray’s wonderful new coming-of-age drama set in 1980s New York City, is now playing in select theaters, in concert with the release has an exclusive clip to share along with commentary from Gray himself.
Gray’s latest, after two expansive epics in “The Lost City of Z” and “Ad Astra,”It is a intimate drama about a young Jewish girl in Queens (played By Michael Banks Repeta). The boy is struggling to make a life for himself with his parents (played By Anne Hathaway & Jeremy Strong) while also having to deal with the pressures of a private school with ties (trigger warning), to the Trump Family.
You can see the scene above between Hathaway & Repeta. It is a true wonder.
“This is a moment, I hate to say this. It comes toward the end of the picture when the main character, Paul’s mother, begins to realize that something is seriously wrong with her father, the grandfather,”Gray described the scene. “And it’s her expression, her attempted expression of love to her son, which I think goes a little bit of awry, but we can talk about that.”
Gray shared his emotional experience of getting Banks there. “I find it a very painful scene personally, because Annie is telling him something, which she means to be filled with love, but puts enormous pressure on the child. All of my hopes are with you. It’s a crazy thing to put on the shoulders of a 12-year-old. And when it came to him, he was just willing to listen to Annie. A lot of acting is simply listening and being aware of the situation and reacting when the actor gives you something that you can play with. And that’s one of the things I discovered when I did auditions with him was how well he could listen and how he would respond if I threw a curve ball at him.”
Gray stated that he tried. “a bunch of different temperatures in the scene,”Before landing on the right tone. “I remember there’s this line where he says, ‘But we’re all here,’ which I meant to imply that the kid doesn’t understand that won’t always be the case, that the mother knows but that he doesn’t,”Gray. “And he says, ‘But what’s…’ He’s a little bit uncomprehending. We’re all here. What’s the problem? And the mother is beginning to acknowledge the impermanence of life, the ephemerality of life. It’s the clash of those two ideas, the experience of one and the inexperience of the other that forges, I think, the meaning of the scene.”
Gray confirmed that they had shot the scene multiple times. “It was recreating something that was direct from my experience. I wanted the light to look a certain way, that she’d be sitting in the dark, that the light would come only from the dining room, that she would be in bed, in the sofa, sit up in a certain way,”Gray stated. Gray acknowledged that he was. “being a jerk”It’s also about doing everything right. “I was being so specific about what it is that I was after in both the blocking and also in performance,”Gray.
Gray stated that Hathaway was “driven”to ensure he was happy. Gray shared this with her. “Don’t worry about making me happy. All you have to do is be in the scene.”
“I think we did eight takes and I think in the movie is take five. But she gave me many different versions, iterations. One was as brilliant as the other,”Gray explained. “It just was about context in the story. Some were very stoic, some were very teary. And I think I wound up going with somewhere in between. And we actually did some where she was kind of narcotized a little bit. We did some where she was very clear eyed. We played.”
“Armageddon Time”It is currently playing in select theaters.