ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Slumberland stars Chris O’Dowd, Kyle Chandler, and Weruche Opia about Netflix’s upcoming film. The trio discussed intentionally awkward acting and beating up Jason Momoa. Slumberland is now streaming on Netflix.
“Slumberland takes audiences to a magical new place, a dreamworld where precocious Nemo (Marlow Barkley) and her eccentric companion Flip (Jason Momoa) embark on the adventure of a lifetime,” reads the film’s synopsis. “After her father Peter (Kyle Chandler) is unexpectedly lost at sea, young Nemo’s idyllic Pacific Northwest existence is completely upended when she is sent to live in the city with her well-meaning but deeply awkward uncle Phillip (Chris O’Dowd). Her new school and new routine are challenging by day but at night, a secret map to the fantastical world of Slumberland connects Nemo to Flip, a rough-around-the-edges but lovable outlaw who quickly becomes her partner and guide. She and Flip soon find themselves on an incredible journey traversing dreams and fleeing nightmares, where Nemo begins to hope that she will be reunited with her father once again.”
Tyler Treese: Chris, your character has such a wonderful arc in the film and in the beginning, you get to act so wonderfully awkward. So what stood out about getting to play Phillip early on? It’s clear that he is not really fit to be a father at that moment. He’s emotionally unavailable. It gave you a lot to work with.
Chris O’Dowd: Well, I’ve been living it for a good eight years, so that’s been helpful. Slightly put out by a child arriving at your doorstep is kind of how I felt when my wife told me she was pregnant. So I kind of … I wanted to imbue certainly a stillness in the character where I wanted it to go as long as possible where we could just be both stood there not saying anything before Frances would make something happen. And so I tried to bring as much of that physical awkwardness to it as I could, really. And sometimes pretending that I would forget my lines and the hope that we could just get really awful awkward pauses. Because I feel like that’s what happens when non-social people have to deal with adversity.
Kyle, you have some really great scenes with Marlow [Barkle] at the beginning of the film. How was it establishing that daughter/father relationship with her? She seems like such a promising young actress.
Kyle Chandler: I’ll answer that in a second, but to what you [Chris] just said, mixing your pauses in with balancing that with just enough comedy but not too much. That’s a fine line. Yeah. And you did that really well.
O’Dowd: Genuinely, I think a lot of it happens in the edit where the editor will go, “No, this is the perfect comedic balance.” There’s only so much that the audience will take before it becomes like a gig.
Chandler: And that was fun, wasn’t it?
O’Dowd: Yeah, yeah. They did a really good job on it.
Chandler: Yeah, my Marlow scenes were … it was a joy working with her. She’s a wonderful little actress and the scenes have a lot of … there’s a lot of tender emotion and there’s that idea that, as an actor, I get to be alive with my daughter and then I get to be not alive with my daughter, but yet try to send her off with the information you hope and you dream that you can share with your child before you send them out in the world. It just so happened [that] the situation was a little peculiar in this sense. So there was a warmth to it that was there and that dynamic within the script was … it was a lot of fun to play and it created something. She was just fantastic and she was smart enough to know all this. She explained all this to me. I didn’t know what was going on. So it all worked out well.
Also Kyle, the beard looked great in the film.
Chandler: Oh my beard! Hey man, how about yours? Yeah, that was the first beard I ever had, because we were going to go shoot, and he said, “Let it be a little gruffy,” or whatever, and I called him back because we had to shut down. I said, “what do you want to do with the beard?” And he says, “Oh, just let it go.” All of a sudden, I had a beard. It’s great. First time. Oh yeah, I liked it. I like it a lot. You can always get extra food and stuff. It’s good.
Weruche, you get the chase around and beat up Jason Momoa — not many people can say they’ve done that. How fun was it doing those great action scenes?
Weruche Opia: I had an absolute blast. I mean, I did rehearse the fight scene quite a few times, but doing it in person was so much fun because I actually felt like I was beating up Jason Momoa, which made me feel like a complete badass. It looks great as well. So it was so much fun to do that. I think that’s my first fight scene I’ve had on screen, so I was like, “with that man? I’m going to take you!” So it was great.
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