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The Things We Do For Love
SHANA SCHWARZ ~ Special for The Foothills Focus ~ 2/23/2011

Whether you celebrated, begrudgingly acknowledged, or despised Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to ignore one thing this time of year; love is in the air. We’re reminded by commercials that the way to our loved one’s heart is just a purchase away, and that happiness, indeed, can be bought. Hopefully this doesn’t burst anyone’s bubble, but I’m pretty sure The Beatles had it right: money can’t buy me love. So where does that leave the hopeful masses waiting to find that special someone? And how do those people lucky enough to have found someone keep their mate happy?
I took a class in college that taught me to take portrayals of love in the mass media with a grain of salt, or ignore them completely. Movies and television shows that tend to overly romanticize love, and gloss over the hard times can leave us feeling confused and unsatisfied in our own relationships when they don’t live up to the standards that pop culture has taught us to embrace. However, some movies can at least get us thinking about love, what we’re willing to sacrifice to get it, and what we’re willing to overlook when we’ve found it.
New release Waiting for Forever follows Will (Tom Sturridge) and Emma (Rachel Bilson) as young adults, and former childhood friends who are separated after tragedy touches Will’s family when he is 10 years old. Finding security in her presence, or simply the chance of her presence, Will builds his life around being near Emma, though not directly stalking or even interacting with her. When Emma’s father is taken ill and she returns to her childhood home, Will makes the journey to again be around her, and announces to family and friends that he will finally tell her, well, everything. And, really, who doesn’t want to hear that someone has been following them around for the past several years, especially when that person has a tendency to talk to people who aren’t physically present? I was able to chat with director James Keach and get his take on love, obsession, and the paper thin line that separates the crazy from the romantic.

Why is Waiting for Forever a story you wanted to tell?
Keach: “I’d never seen this character [Will] before. So often we judge people by the way that they look, and then we can find out that that person is not who they seem to be. In this case, I just found Will’s character to be…the essence of innocence. It’s innocent love, and it’s pure love. He suffers from childhood trauma. The only thing that kept him going on was the love that he had for someone else. He turned his trauma, into a love for someone else. An idealized love. He felt this was his best friend, the love of his life.
At a screening at the Writer’s Guild, I was sitting inside, with the moderator, and there was a knock at the window. There was kind of a scary looking fellow out there, who had a whole bunch of things for me to sign, from The Long Riders. He was so grateful, and had signatures of all the characters. He had been seeking out all of us: Randy and Dennis Quaid, the Carradine Brothers, he had gotten my brother’s signature, and I was the last one. Are these people obsessive? Are they sick, or do they just love the movies we do?”

Where do we draw the line between romantic and crazy?
Keach: “I think we draw the line if someone doesn’t respect people’s space, or people’s privacy. Will in no way got into her personal space. He was actually afraid to come forward. I was afraid to be a director for a long time, because I didn’t want to take the chance of not being good at it. Same for Will- he’s afraid of being rejected. We draw the line at a physical threat, or an emotional threat. I’m not a psychologist, I don’t know a clinical answer. And Will was somebody who knew her [Emma]; they never had a falling out. She was that person that you hold when things get really bad.”

What’s the craziest/most romantic thing you’ve ever done for someone you loved?
Keach: “I walked out on a marriage. I fell in love with Jane (Seymour) when I was working in Arizona, and directing her in a movie. With the marriage I was in, she was going her way and I was going mine. I knew that if I didn’t leave the marriage, I couldn’t tell Jane that I loved her. I didn’t have an affair. Jane would never have been involved with someone that was married.”

There is a scene between Blythe Danner and Richard Jenkins that was particularly moving to me. How were you able to weave a story of new love so seamlessly with the story of how we say goodbye to love?
Keach: “I don’t know, but I’m glad I did. That was one of the things that truly attracted me to the script. The couple that drives Will in the car had that love, too. They have that relationship, too. They remind me of my parents. He just wanted her to be strong. How did I do that? I just wanted the performances to ring true, to be real. I think that’s your job as a director.”

Slightly off-topic, but I’m curious. If you could take any existing movie and re-direct it, which would it be, and why? Not meaning that you think the movie is bad, necessarily, but just a movie that you’d like to put your own spin on.
Keach: ”The Best Year’s of Our Lives, to retell it for today. I would remake it today for people coming back from the wars of Afghanistan. It’s just such a great picture, and a great story.”