December Boys Premieres and Press Junkets
DanRadcliffe.com attended the NYC Q&A Screening of December Boys; the LA, Melbourne, Sydney and London premieres. Check out the links to our coverage below. You can view the transcript of the NY Q&A by clicking on the read more link below.
London Premiere Photos | London Premiere Video | Sydney Premiere Photos | Melbourne Premiere Photos | LA Premiere Photos | Melbourne Premiere Report by Staffer Dave | December Boys Review by Staffer Olivia | NYC Q&A Audio
The Moderator introduces Rod Hardy and Daniel Radcliffe; the director and star of December Boys respectively. They take their seats in director chairs at the front of the theatre.
Dan: Good evening, everybody; hello.
Moderator: Right, you’ve been in America for a long time, now, right?
Hardy: Uh, I actually came to the United States about 20 years ago. Spent, 18 years…it felt a little bit like 40 years in Los Angeles – sorry to the people from Los Angeles – and then, the last three years, I’ve actually re-based myself back at home in Australia to make this film and to reconnect with family and all those kinds of things…but, I still work here in the United States.
Moderator: What brought you to do that? Did you find that maybe Hollywood was not the place you wanted to be, or they didn’t want to make the films that you wanted to make, or…?
Hardy: No, none of those things as far as I’m concerned. You know, this is the marketplace; there’s no question about it. And back at home in Australia where I’m from, you know the market is very slow and just into doing local films. We’re very fortunate to be able to make a film like December Boys. Lots of American films are now being made in Australia, but local filmmaking is really at a minimum. So…but I wanted to go back to make something in my home town, and as you all know, being home is (inaudible) sometimes.
Moderator: And you picked a great project I think, too.
Hardy: Thanks very much; I appreciate that.
Moderator: Daniel, could you just tell us when you first heard about December Boys, and what you were looking for at the time, and if it was easy to fit into your schedule.
Daniel: Yeah…well, I first heard about it perhaps, not surprisingly, I was filming Harry Potter and…and it was one of things that, you know, we…I knew I wanted to do a film between Harry Potters four and five, and there was a special break, and so it just came up at the right time. I’d been reading a lot of scripts and this one just stood out head and shoulders above the rest really, both as a story itself and also the character was very different from Harry and so that’s obviously something I wanted to…
Moderator: Still an orphan?
Daniel: Still an orphan! But, that’s…we… (laughter)…um so…so, no, I mean it is – this is my third orphan, I’m cornering the market!
Moderator: That’s right, David Copperfield…!
Daniel: Yeah. Yeah…but no, just everything I…you said earlier in the interview, the plan is just everything just fell into place at the right time really, in terms of the timing of when the film was going to shoot and all of those things, it was great, and also I was obviously attracted to it by the fact that I got to film in Australia, which is brilliant. I, you know, I’ve been there four or five times, it’s fantastic.
Moderator: Yeah I read somewhere that your family has a house there, so you spend…Christmas in Australia, or..?
Daniel: Whenever we can, yeah. I mean, I don’t think we’ll be able to this time around because you know, we’re back into the midst of Potter six, I mean, generally…we’ve been there five or six times, and we just love it there.
Moderator: Rod, I want to ask you when we see a film like this, and see the coming of age of these really unique individuals, one always gets the sense that it’s based on a true story or that the author of the source material must’ve gone through some of that. Is this an autobiographical story for the novelist, or…?
Hardy: No. No, not at all… in fact, the original model was written some 50 odd years ago…not by me… back then an English, radical producer by the name of Ronald (?) picked up the rights. He had written, and I think produced, Village of the Damned, which was a picture made in the early 60s. And he, for some reason, wanted this to be his next movie, and of course, then because of the success of Village of the Damned, everybody felt that this was going to be another fabulous science fiction picture, I think. So it went from that, and so it circled the studio bases in the United States for some…I may be wrong, but I think it was about 20 years. James Sanders, the producer who found the project, is here in the theater. Am I right on that James? It was stayed for some time?
James: (inaudible) Yeah.
Hardy: Yeah. So 20 years or more this stayed in project and it just circled around over here until Jay tried to get it set up about 15 years ago, and managed to get it to Australia and its taken…I got involved 10 years ago, and he and I filmed the production, so it did take some time. If there’s anything about the film that does have some parts of life, it might be about the story between Maps and Lucy. And, her name was Virginia Tom for me…um, we went to…
Hardy: I was just remembering…
Moderator: (to Daniel) You know, Maps and Lucy too must have been quite difficult and I imagine for an actress like that, you might have been somewhat intimidated more by the process of a glance and you know, how did you…there was chemistry between both of you in the film, so I want to just—how did you achieve…that…?
Hardy: If I could just mention about the chemistry, it’s interesting, because we made a decision on both Daniel and Teresa separately, but at the same time. They never met and of course when you’re trying to put together the chemistry required for something as simple as this story really is, it’s a bit of a challenge. But, when they first met, I knew instantly…the…
Daniel: (inaudible) I was absolutely besotted….
Hardy: I think it was the way Daniel was unable to speak!
Hardy: But they—we had to actually give them an exercise to do just to get to know each other. Just sort of crawl around the rehearsal room and not really talk to each other but to look at each other and just to try and find what connection there may be and…my God I thought I had to get, you know, I thought I had to get the fire hose…it was really very good, but Daniel will probably tell you as an actor what it was like.
Daniel: Yes I will. Um…I dunno, there’s…to be honest, when we did that scene in the film, the sex scene, it was one that was…the dynamics between our two characters were totally reflected in us as actors that day. Because that was the first scene of that nature that I’d ever done and Teresa had done about three before that? So, you know, she’s playing this…shall we say worldly girl who’s guiding Maps through the process, which is essentially exactly what she was doing with me because I’d never actually done that sort of scene, you know, before, so it was…I was quite nervous at first, but she was very good at, you know, keeping me under control.
Moderator: How many times do you rehearse a scene like that? Not one, or…
Daniel: Oh no, we didn’t rehearse it… I mean, I would’ve loved a lot of rehearsals.
Daniel: You know, the great thing about those sort of scenes when you watch them in films – actually this is probably the exception because it’s not a particularly sexy sex scene at all; um…it’s a, it’s a fumble-y sex scene…and um, but generally if you watch these films you think “My God that must be so incredibly exciting to do!” that you just don’t know how these actors control themselves. But in reality they’re not at all, it’s not in the slightest bit exciting. It’s very… like you still have to just, you know, make sure you’re in the light, it’s quite clinical and that was sort of an awakening for me in that sense.
Moderator: And that’s the day when all the crew members want to come in, right?
Moderator: …the ones you haven’t seen since the beginning of shooting?
Hardy: But you know, there is a truth to this. We did all the scenes in a cave on one day, and it was quite a long day…it was what..?
Daniel: It was….It was – OK. The last day of the film we had to have every scene in that cave shot and it went from eleven o’clock in the morning on the 23 of December to quarter past 4 in the morning of Christmas Eve. Um, and it was…by the end we were all in a state of mild hysteria.
Hardy: And the thing was, that when we were doing that particular scene, I did look over behind stage…they were in the most fabulous embrace, and I looked across and I’m sure I saw the sound recorder with his eyes closed, head down (inaudible)…I guess everybody at that point had had enough.
Moderator: You know, it’s interesting because so many things changed after that moment. And I remember the scene at the dinner table, and everyone’s saying “well this is the best meal we ever had…” and that I think is a priceless scene, but then we cut to you (Daniel/Maps), and you can see how upset you are by certain things. I wonder if you can maybe talk about that and the time in your life changed and you became more serious…?
Daniel: Well…I mean that was one of the first – that scene at the dinner table was one of the first we shot. It was one of those things that was actually – I always think it’s quite good to somewhere near the beginning of the film, do a really hard scene. Do a scene that’s much deeper than the others, and that was certainly it for me. And it was nice, that one, because throughout the film with Maps, the main challenge is simply to …you know, you have to communicate just as much as you would with any other character but with a lot less dialogue. Because he’s not…he doesn’t speak much. The first 20 minutes of the film, he’s pretty much silent. Ad that was a big thing for me because you learn not to rely on the dialogue anymore and just to never let the camera find you not thinking. So that scene was really good fun. And that was a really charming scene in some ways as you said because it’s like that argument you used to have when you were kids and you just try and out do each other. And it was great.
Moderator: Well let’s take some questions from the audience. Would anyone like to? Gentlemen?
Man in back: What does the involvement of the horse mean?
Moderator: What is the symbolism of the horse?
Hardy: What would you like it to be?
Hardy: You know its interesting because its one of those questions that went from the beginning of us writing the screenplay until the very end and it’s always been to me, I would remember looking back upon my childhood and thinking about certain events during holidays and somebody who had the most huge dog that was next door to the house that we visited each year. And then I went back years later and the dog had passed away, but I saw pictures or photographs of it – and I’m of course a mature man at this point – and the dog was tiny as tiny as tiny! So I always say to people, it’s whatever you want it to be. I think it’s part of his (Misty’s) nostalgic truth. There was a bit of magic in this boy’s spiritual journey anyway and that spirituality that hopefully subtly finds its way into a story is connected to that horse. Some people love it and some people sort of – don’t.
Daniel: I think also it’s about the things you allow yourself to believe when you’re a kid. Its about allowing that …the mythology of the Cove to be true for this boy. And that horse was just a piece of those myths. And I think it’s just as you say: looking back, it might as well have been real.
Moderator: How did all the kids get along? Was there a family there? Did the younger ones sort of …
Daniel: Yeah! We all got on really, really well. You know we were …It was weird for me because I’d sort of …I’d been used to being sort of – even though I’d done the Harry Potters for seven years a this point – I’d always been in the junior members of the cast; whereas suddenly with this and the other boys, I’m the senior cast member, which was weird. But it was great. I had to sort of…you know, keep ‘em control a bit, cause they’re twelve and what twelve year-old is not hyper active! And particularly James Fraser – who is a wonderful wonderful boy and plays Spit in this – he was like a walking disaster! You’d turn your back for two minutes and he would have cut himself or broken a toe. But they were amazing, though. If I had been that professional at the age of twelve, I think we would have done Harry Potter Two in half the time. I thought they were all fantastic.
Hardy: I should also say that we usually worked out the time of day by the number of sodas the boys had had. You could tell certainly with James that by eleven o’clock it was a twelve soda day. So they were all over the place.
Moderator: Did you cast them in terms of the character they were playing? In other words: did their personalities in real life have to sort of match who they were playing in the film?
Hardy: You know it’s funny. I think it happens in most films – and a lot of directors will disagree with me – but when you go into a casting there’s something about an image that you had when you first read the screenplay that seems to stay with you. Whether it even be a picture of the color of their hair or something. And then, and then the actor comes along and you know they’re gonna add another 80%. So a lot of the personality, particularly young Misty, who I used to call The Angry Ant because he had retired and then came out of retirement to do December Boys. Somehow his agent or somebody had ripped him off, he felt on his first movie, so he gave up filming. And then two weeks before we cast the film he came along and was just fabulous. But I’ve since heard that he’s retired again.
Daniel: James and Christian, playing Spit and Spider, I think they’re fairly like their characters in some ways. And also, by the way they are in real life, (they) make a fantastic double act. But I don’t think Lee’s very much like Misty. Because also you gotta remember, Lee in real life…when we did the film, Misty is nine or ten, and Lee is thirteen. I mean he looks a lot younger…
Hardy: The other boys were twelve. And he was older than they were…
Daniel: The difference between ten and thirteen is almost like between night and day, so…
Moderator: In a film where young actors or young people have to deal a number of tragedies…for example, Skipper being ill, and also Love and Family; all these very emotional subjects – Is it difficult on a day to day basis? I mean do they think about that?
Hardy: Do you mean do the actors think about….? Oh yeah. On the day that they got to play the scene with the Skipper in bed having to tell the kids that she had cancer – I mean Kris McQuade, who played the role was very much in that character for the whole of the day. And I think good actors need the space to be able to have their opportunity. And a lot of those experiences, although they’re part of the book, and a lot of them certainly appeared in the book, a lot of them were also part of Marc Rosenberg and my lives too. You know family is very important to me and if anything, whatever you may have felt about the movie, if you feel like you’ve recognized some family members…some friends…or you feel like you might tomorrow think about them for just a moment and then you miss them, then we’ve done something worthwhile. And I hope that we can at least leave that in the audience’s mind.
Moderator: Dan, you have a line in the film where you say: “I don’t want to be adopted. I like things the way they are.” Do you think your character was truthful in that?
Daniel: That was…that’s a very good question. (to audience) I know the answer!
Daniel cont’d: I genuinely think he means it. I really do feel that. I think its Shawshank Redemption where a guy gets out of prison and kills himself because he can’t cope with this new life. I think the thought for Maps of things changing that dramatically is too terrifying to actually contemplate. And that’s one of the tragedies in his life. He realizes he’s going to lose the family he has in the other boys, and yet, he’s not going to have a family he can move on to. That was something he was unable, you know, mentally, to get involved in.
Moderator: There’s one other question. I guess it comes up in narration. And that’s why he (Maps) went after Fearless…why he went after him and then you see him at the fairgrounds. Can you talk a little bit about that and why you decided one: I guess to bring the narration back and are we supposed to have an answer for that?
Hardy: I think he (Misty) goes – he says “I don’t know why he went to Fearless that day, and I never asked him.” That was just one of those things. I’m sure Daniel will have another view to this…but, he was looking for some sort of connection to an adult prospective because he suddenly found himself stepping into an adult world that probably he didn’t feel so comfortable in. Fearless was probably the male guide that he could use.
Daniel: I mean I, to be honest, I totally agree with that. But also I think Fearless means so much to those boys and they so look up to him. I just think Maps at that point, in a moment of I suppose clarity, he just wants to try and see what those boys see. Because at that moment, for some reason…either he needs to feel close to the boys, or he needs to feel that he can find something to respect in this man and have a father figure of his own…
Hardy: I also think that he wants to go back and tell Fearless that they can’t stay. Because really… this woman in his life who was gonna be his new step into it– the truth is of orphans in Australia at this time in the 50s and 60s, they would get to seventeen years of age and then they’re booted out. So having had their whole lives being contrasted around Nuns doing everything and telling them to do everything and suddenly they were there on their own. So I think suddenly this woman is gone and his (Maps) world is suddenly shattered and there’s no way that family can be broken up. So maybe again he went there to try and open that discussion up.
Moderator: It’s sad because you do at one point feel ‘everybody leaves’. I mean the girl just left. She had her impact and she will affect Maps for a long time. Their relationship will always be there, but it’s gone. I mean, it’s gone…
Hardy: He says that too, doesn’t he? I mean he (Maps) screams out that everybody leaves. So from his perspective, life wasn’t just an easy bowl of cherries. From right back in the very beginning he was left behind. And, I’m sure everybody does that inside, when we find that little child inside. We all want to be needed. We all want to be taken care of in some way. That was unashamedly the story that I wanted to tell. That we all wanted to tell in a way, that family is important, and reaching out to family. If you’ve got them, share them and use them now. Don’t lose them because nothing is here forever.
Moderator: Do you have a favorite scene in the film Rod? And also: because you’re shooting, I guess on a pretty tight schedule, are there scenes that maybe you would have wanted to also include that you didn’t have time for, or…?
Hardy: Having a favorite scene is like having a favorite album that you really love and you’ve got to pick that one track and it’s not always that easy. This is not a quote from me, but somebody said about filmmaking: “You never finish the film. You abandon it because there’s always something you want to keep.” I mean I can’t look at the film now without saying “Give me another month and I’ll be able to do it better.” I think every filmmaker goes out and has that same experience.
Daniel: In terms of scenes that got cut or had to be left out; the only one I could think of that did get cut…was not actually for scheduling because we shot it, but it was a scene in which, as I recall, it was another confrontation between the three boys and Misty. It was cut because of the density of the amount of flies (laughter) that were everywhere. I mean, they were on us, the cast, they flooded the camera lens…But to be honest, on a six-week shoot…considering we were on a six-week shoot, there was not much that got left behind. Which was pretty good.
Hardy: Very true. Anybody been to Australia? You know about the flies then? Breakfast was always good because the eggs would be laid out on the table with the Sultana’s on the top of them. Of course, they didn’t put Sultanas… they were flies that covered the food. And that’s Australia, but we get used to that kind of…
Daniel: That’s not all Australia!
Moderator: If we were gonna go visit again, where exactly was the location where you filmed that? It was beautiful.
Hardy: It’s called Kangaroo Island. It’s off the coast of South Australia. It’s about an hour and a half car/ferry trip. It’s one of those best-kept secrets in Australia. Even people from Adelaide hardly ever go to Kangaroo Island. And it is truly called that because there are thousands and thousands and thousands of Kangaroos.
Daniel: Apparently there’s something like – little bit of pointless trivia – on Kangaroo Island there exists a type of Kangaroo there, because a sort of land bridge was cut off, they exist only on that Island. Or something like that. Um…yeah, take the mic Rod!
Hardy: That’s actually the truth too, but it’s also because of that the Kangaroo hates English people and hamsters.
Moderator: And you have Nuns doing cartwheels!
Daniel: Yeah. Who are the Nuns doing cartwheels in the film? Was one of them not Susie?
Daniel: Um, Susie Strueth, who’s the…who deals with the continuity on the film, she was one of the cartwheeling Nuns.
Moderator: These weren’t exactly stunt Nuns?
Daniel: No, these were not stunt Nuns! (indistinguishable)
Moderator (to audience): Any questions? All the way in the back…
Girl in back: What was each of your takes on the spirituality in the movie?
Moderator repeats the question.
Daniel: I’m not a…the spirituality for me wasn’t the main thing about it. I mean I’m not a particularly spiritual or religious person. But for me, it was that. I’d done an interview and somebody’d said that they sort of objected to the religion part of it. But, you know, I can’t see how you could make a film about four boys from a Catholic Orphanage without religion being a factor. (laughter) So that was just something that was gonna be there. And I think it’s a great part of the film and a great part of Maps’ character. The fact that he does believe. I think what’s great about his religion as opposed to Misty’s is that I think Misty’s is on show and he feels he has to show it. Whereas Maps is – he doesn’t really think about it – but it’s totally ingrained within him.
Hardy: You also might remember that line where he (Misty) says “I have spiritual antennae. I could see things that other people couldn’t see.” I grew up with a young friend like that who was convinced that he was seeing the Madonna beside his bed on most nights. And maybe he did. But that’s the reality of Misty. He really believed that he could see things that other people couldn’t see.
Boy in front: As a director, how do you bring the characters to the dark place and do you have the responsibility to get them out of that? Or how do you…
Moderator repeats the question.
Hardy: My job is not to interfere in that area of the craft of acting. It is to try to, and give, that space to the actor so they can find that place, and if along the way they want me to take on that journey with them, then I’m happy to do that. But I think the best directors allow their actors to find their places into those journeys and to help them back out of that if they need that. I don’t know if that makes sense to you but…
Boy: Yes, thank you. (to Daniel) And also, you said, as an actor, try not to have the camera catch you without thoughts going in your head.
Daniel: That’s not mine, by the way! That was Spencer Tracey.
Boy: What kind of thoughts are going on in your head?
Daniel: It’s a combination. It’s partly you draw on whatever you can from your own life, but also, to be honest, as an actor the main thing you can do if you want to grow and have things to draw upon is listen to people and talk to people and find out what their stories are. And if you do that, you can actually, in a way, sort of use what you draw from them to help you in certain scenes. So it was a mixture of my own feelings on certain things. And also, to be honest, sometimes, when you’re in the environment and you’re on the set and if the actors around you are really giving you everything they have, then it almost just happens without you thinking about it. You become very, very – just totally involved in a scene.
Moderator: What about the scene when they had to go in the water?
Daniel: (to Rod Hardy) Should we? Do we reveal that?
Hardy: I think you should.
Daniel: I think I should! I’m not a confident swimmer. I panic! And it was one of those scenes where if you’d been there on the day you would’ve laughed at how totally nonfrightening it seemed! Because though it was absolutely freezing cold in the water, we were actually…when it looked like I was swimming towards him in the water I was just on my knees underwater. As was Lee. So we were doing lots of sort of – (makes wild gestures as if drowning) acting and things! And that is the unexciting truth.
Danradcliffe.com: Yeah, I wanted to piggy back off of what he (Boy in front) said. Do you find that in this film, particularly, you learned how to do that… Because with Harry Potter your character is basically all laid out for you in these books, so did you have to fill in the blanks with Maps a lot more (to complete your character)…Did this teach you that?
Moderator repeats question.
Daniel: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, one of the first things I did was write an essay which was Maps’ back-story. Because whereas with Harry you know the whole thing from the start; this character back-story is important. It never comes into the film, but you have to know it to know where you’re coming from and what your thoughts on certain things would be. So yeah, I did. It was also quite refreshing because you had slightly more room to play around with the character and make it yours. With Harry the job you have is sort of just to own the character and make it your own within those grounds, whereas with Maps, it was more creative in the sense that I had free reign.
Hardy: If I could just also say – apart from Daniel, who wasn’t able to be there the first stages of rehearsal, the three young boys spent a couple of weeks and we did that whole thing of going back into the back-story and trying to find out where they thought their parents were, whether they were still alive or they thought they’d been deserted. How that would’ve happened and really create a character so that every scene they knew the place that their character would come from. Daniel was doing it in London while the three boys were doing it in Adelaide. When they came together, just prior to Daniel’s arrival, I brought out a person who’d lived in an orphanage in the 50s and the 60s. He told the boys many personal stories about the heartache of feeling alone. Although you’re in a dormitory with 30 or 40 other boys, just hearing that sob of the boy in the next bed, how that would take you on a journey. It gave these three young kids who really didn’t have much to think about, as far as that goes, certainly more of an emotional connection to the way these characters in our story would have lived.
Moderator: We’ll take one more question. Over there, you have a question?
Young Boy in back: When Maps had a cigarette, was it a real cigarette?
(audience laughs and applauds)
Daniel: It was not a real cigarette. It was a herbal cigarette. But, unfortunately it was a real burn when I had to put it out in my hand. But no, you’ll be pleased to know it was not a real cigarette!
(more applause from the audience)
Hardy: That was a great question by the way. A very good question. Could I just say also – I am a non-smoker. I am dead against smoking. But I knew that was a reality in the 50s and 60s, that young kids did smoke and so for it not to be there, I felt it would leave a hole in the film. Some people feel that films do encourage people to smoke cigarettes. I’m happy to debate that anytime, because I truly believe that young men like you understand that it isn’t the thing to do. It isn’t a healthy thing to do because now we have the knowledge. In those days, people didn’t have that knowledge.
Daniel: And also, I think with that, another question that comes up a lot is “Why is Maps so rebellious?” And the things they put on that list of rebellion is the smoking and the drinking and the sex. And frankly, in terms of the smoking and the drinking: I don’t think that’s rebellion. I think he’s just bored, and there is nothing else to do. And so that’s what it is. The routine of collecting odd ends of tobacco is one of those things that takes him through the orphanage. So it is a character thing rather than being just gratuitous.
Hardy: I know we’re about to finish, but if I could just say very quickly: You’re one of the first audiences in the United States, in fact in the world to see the film. I thank you for being here to see it. It has been sort of a job of passion for a lot of people. Hopefully there was entertainment in it. Hopefully there was some humor. Hopefully there were some tears. (applause) Hopefully you’ll spread the word. We’re a small film trying to reach out to a market place. If you’d pass it on to people and recommend it, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you.
Moderator: Tell everybody.
Daniel: Thank you very much indeed. Thanks very much everybody.