‘The Way Back’ Star Janina Gavankar on Co-Star Ben Affleck & “Magical Realism” | In Studio

‘The Way Back’ Star Janina Gavankar on Co-Star Ben Affleck & “Magical Realism” | In Studio

– I’m Janina Gavankar and you are watching Instudio with The Hollywood Reporter. (dramatic music) – Okay. So, let’s start
with “The Way Back.” which is really seen in theaters today. – Wow. Okay.
(laughs) That’s wild. Yeah. – Has it been a while? Have you been waiting for
the theatrical release? – Yeah. We started shooting
this in October of 2018 and we did re-shoots in the
middle of this last year. And, wants to see how the real thing just, (laughs) – Well, this is a very impressive movie. It’s about loss, it’s about grief, it’s about redemption, it’s about basketball, (laughs) – Yeah.
– It’s about so many things. How do you feel about the
overall message of the movie? – I think it’s a really important movie if we did everything
that we were supposed to. And, I gotta say this whole experience is felt more like doing an indie movie than a studio movie ever could. I mean, I’ve done a ton of indie projects and I did not think it was
gonna feel the way that it did. It was a really intimate experience and that just chalked that up to Gavin. – Most of your scenes with Ben Affleck, you play exes. What I noticed, first and foremost, was his character, Jack was trying to bring your character, Angela into his grief. He was trying to bring her down to his level. And if he saw that you were
coming out of your grief, he was gonna bring you back down. And that took,
– it’s so interesting that you feel that way. – Yeah, that was my impression of that. I felt it so I was watching the man that I still love perform okayness and try to prove that everything was fine and that he was doing great. And if anybody knows that that’s a lie, it’s the woman that knows him best. – Yeah. – I mean, he’s also, I think when you are at
your worst you really, most people have a hard
time accepting any help for their own mental health and part of that is like a
feeling of unworthiness and, I think all those things
are also happening so that’s like the level underneath really even what she is seeing. So I love that that is what you felt. And all of these things
are true simultaneously. – There’s a duality to when somebody is struggling with addiction especially alcoholism. The family dynamic can be that they are pushing you away, they are you that everything is great and at the same time they are trying to
manipulate or reach out. Like there’s just so
many things happening. So, you are playing these scenes with Ben and I noticed you have to
kind of physically change, like diminish yourself in certain places. There was just like all of the emotions that you had to show
were extremely settled. But I saw it in your body language. Was that something that you
were thinking about at the time or is that something that
– Yes or no. I mean that’s just sort
of training and instinct at some point. You know, if you really just commit yourself to
understanding the situation and every moment that’s come before it this is like theater one on one stuff. You know, if you just go in with an action and a motivation and just are hyper aware of everything that’s come before, all of those things will happen naturally if you are in a safe space with other actors and artists who are willing to do the same thing. – Great. And tell me about the space that you share with Ben Affleck. – Yeah. Sure.
– Because you are, I read an article in
The Hollywood Reporter. – No, it’s fine
(laughs) What is that publication? Are they in authority in the space? – I think so. I think you might know them. But Peter, wonderful, – Peter. – Was talking to you about you and Ben being able to have discussions about not only what was happening in the movie you were currently at but the movie that you
were writing and directing, “Missing Time”
– Yeah. I was prepping my short
film simultaneously which deals with mental health and suppressing anxiety and I told Ben the whole entire thing. I pitched him the whole story. I pitched him the tongue sequence which is a sort of like a pretty intense moment. We love magical realism, like my creative partner and I. So, but that means that we
really have to pitch ideas to as many people as we can to make sure that what
we’re actually trying to do is not lost behind the gag. So, yeah, I pitched the tongue sequence to Ben and he just twisted up
his little face like, – You got the appropriate reaction? – I was like, “Yeah. I got him.” (laughs) Kinda like, “We really
got something now. Yeah.” – It’s wonderful. I mean, what is it like, as a first-time director. – Yeah. I’ve directed a bunch of sort of like other little pieces and like music videos
and these kinds of things but this is my first
narrative short film, yeah. – So, let’s talk a
little bit about Stucco. – Sure. – Because it is going to be premiering at the South by Southwest. – Yeah. It’s not a premiere but we’re in competition at South by. – Okay. Great. Fantastic. – But we did just premiere online at thehollywoodreporter.com.
(laughing) – That’s right. You can see it on The Hollywood Reporter. – You can.
– You can see the entire short film. – Yeah, which is really really cool to us. It means a lot to us to have the support of a trade. You know, I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve been doing a lot of other things besides acting for a long time. But most people don’t know that and I don’t feel like just because a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around that
it doesn’t make a sound. Like I feel all the sounds of the trees that I’ve made in the pa- I don’t know. This is now unto the falling part. But the point is that this is the first very public offering especially from Reso and I. And to have the support that you guys have given us. And primarily, it actually
means a lot to us. So, it’s true The Hollywood
Reporter does write a lot about female filmmakers especially in the festival space. I heard recently about a report that they’ve been keeping
track of female filmmakers, producers, cinematographers and finding a huge leap in
a festival representation. But still major feature films incrementally women are taking those jobs, positions.
– And sometimes, moving backwards, the data shows it’s not
always a move forward. – Yeah. So, what can we do about that? How can we translate the festival
representation into jobs? – Well the things that you’re talking about the studio system. Right?
– Yeah. – And all of those things
are just based on data but if you have a data-driven top 10 list of the top 10 whoever the heck, it’s immediately a hidden default. Because that list will never change. If the big studios who have the money to call the shots say, “Well we’re only gonna
work with an A-list XYZ”, they’re gonna look at that top 10 list which is based on everything that’s come before it. It will never change. So, unless they decide that the metric that’s most important is not that they’re getting
somebody from that A-list and that they’re actually
changing representation and that that list matters more, It’s not gonna change. If you want to exist in any spaces, it’s not just Hollywood, as a woman, as a leader, you have to do it courageously. And you have to just start
calling shots on your own in the way that men have for a really long time. – So you have presented a
social thriller to the world but what would you like to be doing next? Are you diving into the horror genre, are you wanting to go
in different directions? – Well, I would say that all of our projects are
pretty left-of-center. (laughs) – Keeping it weird? – Keeping it weird, yeah. But they span the gamut
of Art-house Horror which works in analogy and also just like comedy snob level. Snobbery.
(both laughing) But we have our million
dollar indie script that we’re polishing right now which is this spiritual
successor to Stucco. We don’t feel like we need
to make the future version. We’ve already told the story. So, yeah. I mean, we love this genre because you know, you can really examine the parts of ourselves that we’re not proud of in horror. – Okay. So I have one more project ’cause you have many many projects. – Yeah. I mean, you know
when this is like you have to have 15 going simultaneous. I was literally negotiating
a contract in the car on the way here for something that nobody knows about. Hopefully won’t fall apart. It’s literally what it is. You just have to keep doing it over and over and over
until one thing sticks. My last question is actually about you play Aniston in The Morning Show. – I do.
– And we wanna know more about Aniston. Well, next time you see research and you let ’em know or carry her in this brilliant showrunner. Yeah. You know, she’s a very interesting person. Again these are the things that I discuss with the writers and that it’s just there’s not enough
real estate on the show for you to be able to do. But yeah, Aniston is not a real name. (laughs)
And, she is sort of a former pageant girl. She’s not like a pageant queen but she’s just sort of always
found ways to win publicly and I think the way that
she’s risen above all of the Mitch, Mark is that she doesn’t care. She is going to live way
past The Morning Show. This is a line on her resume and as everybody else vies that I thrown, she’s like, “Go ahead. “My Instagram following is
way more important right now. “‘Cause it’s gonna help
me get the next thing.” – Wonderful. (laughs) Well, we’re all looking
forward to season two. – We’re shooting it right now also. – Amazing. I’m very excited to see what
happens with season two. Have so much fun at South by Southwest. – Thank you. Are you going? – No.
– Okay. But have so much fun at South by Southwest and check out “The way back”. It’s in theaters now. – Yeah.


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