As writers, it behooves us to pay attention to actors and directors when they talk about what draws them to a particular scripted project. In this video, David Gordon Green talks with Jake Gyllenhaal and the very first question he asks is this: What is it that draws you to a role?
Here is a transcript of Gyllenhaal’s response which starts at 3:15 in the clip:
First and foremost, it’s the story, more than it is even a role. The story feels like the ship you’re going to be going out in and if you don’t have a solid one, you get into rough waters, you’re pretty much screwed. To me it’s really that, initially. What is this whole thing saying? Does it have something to say? Does it have something to say beyond the entertainment of it, the fun factor? And does it have something that’s fun, that’s entertaining, that’s filled with tension, and do I want to move to the next scene and ultimately do I want to know what’s going on with these characters. And then I ask myself, ‘Would it be cool to play this part?’
Interesting comments. Some thoughts:
* The first thing he says: It’s the story. Not the role. Story.
* The metaphor of a “ship” for a film project sounds like it’s spoken by someone who has gotten into some “rough waters” in previous movies and one thing about being a passenger on a ship: You’re stuck there. You can’t leave until the ship hits shore.
* “What is this whole thing saying?” From a writing perspective, this is about Themes.
* Entertainment, fun factor, and tension. All important.
* “Do I want to move to the next scene.” This speaks to the importance of creating Narrative Drive, that energy which propels the story from scene to scene.
* “What’s going on with these characters.” Obviously as writers, we want to create compelling characters who create a sense of emotional connection with readers.
* And finally he winds his way to the particularly role: “Would it be cool to play this part?” So there is a cool factor we need to tap into when writing our characters.
So it’s not just the character an actor assess when considering a role, it’s a whole host of elements — and each one of those noted above are what we, as writers, need to handle when crafting our stories.
HT to @capa150 for tweeting the link to the Gyllenhaal video.