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Bruce Greenwood and Joely Richardson discuss their take on 'Endless Love'

Both Bruce Greenwood and Joely Richardson prove to be quite the lovely couple in Shana Feste’s remake of “Endless Love.” The movie revolves around the love affair that emerges between the sheltered Jade (Gabriella Wilde) and the troubled David (Alex Pettyfer) and how the Jade’s family ends up reacting to it all. While Jade’s mother, Ann (played by Richardson), finds her passions reawakened by Jade and David’s love for one another, her father Hugh (played by Greenwood) soon comes to disapprove of it and tries to keep them apart any which way he can.

Scenes from the movie "Endless Love" featuring Bruce Greenwood and Joely Richardson.
Universal Pictures
Bruce Greenwood and Joely Richardson being interview about "Endless Love"
Universal Pictures

Whatever you may think of this latest Hollywood remake, there’s no doubt that Greenwood and Richardson do a lot with roles that may seem stereotypical or clichéd for a romantic movie like this. While Hugh could have been a one-dimensional villain, Greenwood imbues the character with a humanity that a lesser actor would have easily overlooked. There’s no doubt of how much Hugh cares about his daughter, but when he becomes fearful that he will lose her, his struggle for control threatens to get the best of him.

As for Richardson, it is wonderful to watch her come alive as Ann as she finds joy in watching her daughter discover her first true love. It even reinvigorates Ann’s passion to write as she once wrote a novel, and her free spiritedness is reawakened in a way that everyone (except her husband Hugh) is thrilled by. But can her happiness for her daughter overcome the increasingly controlling nature of her husband?

Greenwood is best known for playing President John F. Kennedy in “Thirteen Days” and for playing Captain Christopher Pike in J.J. Abrams’ two “Star Trek” movies. Richardson became known for her roles on the popular television shows “The Tudors” and “Nip/Tuck,” and she also co-starred in David Fincher’s adaptation of “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.” During the press conference Greenwood cleared up a misconception that has been made about him on the internet, Richardson described why she believes Feste is an actor’s director, and the both of them were asked if they believe in the concept of endless love.

As parents yourselves, you are playing parents in this film of course, but I would think as parents you are supposed to have united front. Your characters in this film have different viewpoints on how to handle their daughter’s maturity. How did that relate to your own experiences as parents, and was there a lot of discussion with the director about how far to go?

Bruce Greenwood: Let me just make clear that the news of me being a father has been greatly exaggerated online. So apparently have a daughter. What’s her name? Does somebody know? (Someone said Brianne) Thank you, Brianne, it sounds familiar. It’s weird that it’s been out there for a long time. Once it’s out once it just trickles out everywhere so I don’t know where it came from, but my experience raising children is, you know.

Joely Richardson: Definitely, but I think that you’re absolutely right. They say there’s a list of the top 10 parenting tips that they say parents should present a united front on, but I think that any of us know that’s really not the case. I think that’s part of that dynamic and conflict and intention of the story is that they are completely torn in that take on this blinding love that has taken place.

What did you discuss with the director about how the parents would handle conflict of that?

Bruce Greenwood: Well Shana is really, really involved and we did a lot of rehearsal and improv beforehand. We improv scenes that didn’t happen in the movie and we improved the scenes that are written in the movie without the dialogue is written, so we played around a lot to try and figure out just how we could flow with what was already written in the story and how we could highlight those imbalances and those points at which we came to loggerheads. So she was very aware of trying to set that stuff up in a way that was believable.

With this movie, you can walk away with a lot of questions about life choices and the choices you make. Could you pontificate a bit if you would about the relationship between love and wealth? Because it seems that seems that too much of one inevitably damages the other. What do you think?

Bruce Greenwood: I think, didn’t Malcolm Gladwell in his newest book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” he writes about how sometimes things that we think of as handicaps often times are just the opposite. Or the reverse is also true; the things we think of as tremendous advantages can get in the way of being happy, and wealth is one of those things where people can become isolated within this luxury and not connect. I think what happened with this family after losing a child was that they managed to get around that thing and they came together, but part of that coming together made the father incredibly dependent on managing his daughter. And when his daughter wants to grow up and experience something over which he will have no control, it finds it virtually impossible to let go. So I think Shana was very conscious of trying to set that up in a way that felt believable and also have the flipside of the mother whose heart is beating as loud as her daughter’s, and wants for her daughter to feel that purity and that joy.

Joely Richardson: And I think that love and wealth have nothing to do with each other because, otherwise as we know often, the richest people can be the most unhappy. I think they are just two different categories. They say there are two basic emotions; one that is love and the other one’s fear. I think that what the father or mother feel towards David isn’t to do with his finances. Maybe more Hugh’s, but I think Hugh’s I’m guessing is more a desire to protect his daughter, and me as the mother I feel there is some goodness in this boy and that he can love her in a capacity that perhaps all this couldn’t… I didn’t think love and wealth have anything to do with each other.

What do you think about the concept of endless love? Do you believe in endless love?

Joely Richardson: I do.

Bruce Greenwood: Yeah, so do I. I mean, love courses through all of us and we can express it to one person all the time or we can express it to everybody in our immediate world and our extended family and all that, and to strangers I think as a concept. The concept of endless love is something that we can exercise in all kinds of ways.

Joely Richardson: Yeah, and then there’s the poem Splendor in the Grass, and we were talking about this earlier, and one of the lines is “which having been shall ever be.” I personally believe that when we have loved someone in whatever capacity, be it parent or friend or lover that love, even when it ceases to exist, still exists. So I think endless love is just when we love someone you can’t take that away.

Joely, your character in the movie has written a book. If you were afforded that luxury, what book would you write?

Joely Richardson: Oh, very good question. We talked a lot about that because… I would like to write a book that would be part journal, part comment of our times, just opinions, observations. That would be the sort of book that I would be interested in writing rather than, you know, historical.

She has that wonderful moment of vulnerability or ego when she’s in the bookstore and she moves her book to the front. As a celebrity in your own life, has there ever been a moment like that for you?

Joely Richardson: Well let’s be honest; everyone in this room, whatever their work, there is some moment when it’s really nice if you have some sort of recognition be at a pat on the back or a friend same well done. I think you’re absolutely right that ego is a dangerous swamp for all of us, and I certainly had it as a component in my life for a time. I would say that’s one of the good things about getting older hopefully is that you get further and further away from your egos. In my 20s I’ve probably had a much scarier ego than I do now.

Bruce, how much do you think your character is overly protective or how much in a way do you think he’s jealous?

Bruce Greenwood: I’m not sure jealousy is the word, but I think fear is the word. I think on some gut level he knows that whomever his daughter chooses, not that he has a choice in who he’s going to let his daughter end up with, is going to require him to step into the background. And I think fear of losing that expression of love from her and waiting for that love to appear in a different way from her is something that he’s just not ready for.

Joely Richardson: On a side note, one of the most beautiful things that I ever heard was from a friend of mine, a man who when he had his daughter, said to himself,” Oh my God. Now I have to become the man that I would want her to fall in love with.” It really pulled him up because he suddenly realized that’s what he wanted to become. Not him himself, but the man that she would fall in love with, a stereotype.

Bruce Greenwood: Yeah, I just had a friend who said, “You can’t date until daddy’s dead.” But she was three then so she really didn’t understand (laughs).

Joely Richardson: That’s a nice lullaby!

Bruce, during the movie your character is possessive, sometimes tender, and other times kind of a jerk. Was it hard for you to play the character?

Bruce Greenwood: I’m all those things (laughs). No it was fun to layer all that stuff in there, to have him try his level best to be evenhanded initially thinking his daughter’s going to make the right choice without his influence. And as she becomes deeper and deeper in love with this guy, him just digging his heels and more and more and getting in the way. It was fun to play with this cast because the cast was all so receptive. And into what we were doing, Shana Feste the director, you will find she’s not just really articulate and sincere, but she’s full of love. She was eight months pregnant (while making the movie), and she still has this beatific glow where whenever was happening on the set, whatever we had to achieve at night in the given number of hours which are always too few, she had this way about her that you just go, “What do we need to do?” She’s really, really inspiring that way.

Joely Richardson: She really is a terrific actor’s director. She’s very precise about the work that everyone needs to deliver in the scene to orchestrate it, but at the same time she’s very good at the overview. Let’s say you have three scenes to do in a day’s schedule: unlike someone who spends three quarters of the day on one scene and then you have to rush the rest, it’s all about proportioning time and she was amazing at that.

There are many scenes where the whole family is together at a party or at the dinner table or just sitting down. What was the chemistry like off the set?

Bruce Greenwood: Remember the family dinner at the lake when we all got together after?

Joely Richardson: Oh yes. Yes.

Bruce Greenwood: And there was just the family at the dinner and two producers, one producer and Josh (Schwartz), we were howling, howling. We were kind of marveling at how it felt like, “This is kind of weird but it feels like a real family.”

Joely Richardson: And there were scenes where there were a ton of us, all the family and Alex (Pettyfer) as well as, it just meant that they were very long days because it means that there’s lots of coverage. So you have to do the whole scene looking at the dad, the whole scene looking at the lovers, and they are very long and you fill in time by playing games. You (Bruce) and Rhys played chess, Gabriella and I would have a good old session talking about everything love, you name it.

Bruce Greenwood: It was very super easy going. Everybody got along really well. It’s easy to say that after a movie’s over and you kind of always pretend that’s how it always was, but that’s how it was.

How familiar were you with the 1981 movie?

Bruce Greenwood: I watched it after taking this job. I thought I should watch the other movie if only to avoid repeating what they did here and there, but that other movie is so different. This is a very different movie. This is really a celebration of falling in love. I was scared to see it, you know, and I was nervous but I really enjoyed it. I really felt good.

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