In the dark comedy film “Dom Hemingway” (written and directed by Richard Shepard), Dom Hemingway (played by Jude Law) is a larger-than-life safecracker with a loose fuse, and who is funny, profane, and dangerous. Back on the streets of London after 12 years in prison, it’s time to collect what he’s owed for keeping his mouth shut. Traveling with his devoted best friend Dickie (played by Richard E. Grant), Dom visits his crime boss Mr. Fontaine (played by Demián Bichir) in the south of France to claim his reward.
But Dom’s drink-and-drug-fueled ego decides that what he’s lost can’t be replaced. One car accident and a femme fatale later, Dom realizes that his priority must be to reconnect with his long-lost daughter Evelyn (played by Emilia Clarke). But Dom does what Dom does best. He screws things up for everyone. Law, Grant, Bichir, Clarke, Madalina Ghenea (who plays Mr. Fontaine’s seductive lover), Shepard and producer Jeremy Thomas gathered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) press conference for “Dom Hemingway” the day after the movie’s world premiere at TIFF. Here is what they said at the press conference.
Richard, you’ve been to TIFF before, so what did you think of the TIFF premiere of “Dom Hemingway”? And how does it feel to be back at TIFF?
Shepard: I was too drunk the entire time, so I couldn’t tell you. Now, I was here a few years ago with my movie “The Matador.” When we were shooting [“Dom Hemingway”], I knew this would be the festival we would premiere it in. I really wanted to.
I feel like the audience is here. They have a really great sense of humor and are open to the kinds of movies that I make. Yesterday was exciting. I went on a five-hour walk of Toronto before the screening to try and work out some nerves, but they came back immediately. But it went well, I think.
Jude, can you talk about that memorable opening scene in “Dom Hemingway”? Was that the first scene you shot for the movie?
Law: Yes. The first time I read the script, I hadn’t read anything that made me laugh as loudly and shocked me quite as much. In a world where we watch and take in endless content, I suppose it was a quite surprise to be as shocked and laughed as much as I did from this brilliant piece of writing. The character was immediately a contrast of everything awful and yet also endearing about man. I liked the challenge. The challenged seemed enormous.
I was immediately enamored with Richard [Shepard]. When we met, I was very excited to work with Jeremy [Thomas]. And slowly, we put together this wonderful group. It was altogether a blurry but wonderful experience.
The first scene, like I just said, I think was the first scene that took my breath away the most and didn’t really let up beyond that. I think one of my requests to Richard was that if we do it, we shoot first to just the bar at a certain height for me for the rest of the film.
Grant: It’s a monologue about a penis.
Jude, you have a lot of monologues, many of them vulgar, in “Dom Hemingway.” How was it for you to do those monologues?
Law: I kind of thought of them as rants, as opposed to monologue. At the heart of this seedy and spoiled man is this poet. He’s sort of Falstaff in a modern guise.
And he has a brilliant turn of phrase and a wonderful ability to riff off ideas, much of which is punctuated with fantastic profanity in the use of the “f*ck” word in various different guises — and many other words.
But there’s a sort of beauty to the way he constructs it. It’s at one time very entertaining but also appalling. It’s a kind of key to who he is.
There’s a hint halfway through that sometime in his reform-school past, he had acted. And you think, “Had he taken that path, he might have been a great actor.” Unfortunately, life took him in another direction.
Demián, did you get a chance to see filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity”? What do you think of his success?
Bichir: I haven’t seen “Gravity.” I’m dying to see it. Alfonso’s work is extraordinary throughout the years. He’s one of those eclectic directors who can go into any genre and do it right and perfect.
Shepard: [He says jokingly] We had a 13-minute uncut space sequence in our film, but it didn’t make the final cut.
Dom Hemingway finds out that he is grandfather. Jude, how did it feel to play a grandfather? And when you were growing up, how important was it for you to be that age you are now? Are you happy with where you are in your career?
Law: One of the key elements — as with any character, I suppose — to Dom was his past and what kind of man he is that you experience at this particular part of his life in this film. And the fact that he has a trouble relationship with his daughter, and that his daughter and he are not that far apart in age, and the fact that he has a 4- or 5-year-old grandson was a very important part of his journey.
And it becomes a very important part of his journey through the film. I certainly didn’t have any trouble with it. I rather relished the idea. I think if anyone is going to have a first daughter, Emilia Clarke is a good place to start.
Clarke: Aw, Dad!
Law: And yeah, the work I’ve done in the last few years I’m really enjoying. Parts can get more and more interesting, more and more challenging. Well, it depends on the ones you take at any age. But certainly, from my experience in the last few years, there have been a few more interesting ones available.
For more info: "Dom Hemingway" website