Can talk about Luke’s transformation from beginning to end in terms of acting and character?
What was fantastic about casting Miles was when I first met him, he was really interested in the story from what and how it was about toxic masculinity. He understood this very contemporary viewpoint we had about the struggles of young men to be good people in society. The sense of entitlement is disrupting people’s ability to be good. He understood things thematically; he also loved Daniel and wanted to play Daniel. I had him audition for both parts. He was such an incredible Luke, the second you see him on screen, we feel empathy for him. Well, I was like you are going to have to play Luke, but the good news is the character of Luke really wants to be Daniel also—so you can now use that in your performance. There is our version of Travolta/Cage Face/Off in the movie, and seeing that Miles could completely transform into the full Daniel experience made him the right guy to play that.
Then we plotted who he was in the way that he conflicts with Daniel or the way that he is in union with Daniel and where that meets its breaking point. That was all structured into how we filmed it and what the performances were. We needed somebody who could be able to make both of those points of view. Working it out in casting is 100%. It’s true for both of them. Patrick had to be able to play somebody who was so confident, so handsome, and yet also has this real sinister side. Luke had to be able to generate all of this empathy but also had these gleams of being Daniel-esque. It was in the casting, and then we had a full week of rehearsing so that we could really dial in the characters and make it feel like these are two characters who already know each other.
“…he was really interested in the story from what and how it was about toxic masculinity.”
The chemistry and connection between Daniel and Luke. Can you talk more about that? The onscreen chemistry between Miles Robbins and Patrick Schwarzenegger?
I wanted to capture the feeling of what it’s like when 19-year-old young men are friends with each other, the incredible closeness that they might have, and the weird world that they might create together, and then the competitiveness and the jealousy. That was important on the script level. In the novel, when we read about Luke when he’s a little kid and when he grows up, it’s the same person in our mind. But when we visualize in the movie, it’s like a completely different actor playing the little kid, and the adults are not even necessarily there on the day. Part of what was important to us was to build their character and their chemistry together. We would improvise ideas around the fact that they were kids together, to get in touch with what it was like for them to have been eight years old, and to play with that and then to put that into their performance. It’s like trying to create memories of them being little kids together that they could use as adults. Just spending the time together that we needed so that they could be comfortable being this close to each other got us along the way.