Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview: David Hyde Pierce and Screenwriter-Director Nick Tomnay Talks 'The Perfect Host'

Read Shockya's roundtable interview with actor David Hyde Pierce and Australian screenwriter-director Nick Tomnay, whose psychological thriller ‘The Perfect Host’ is now available via VOD, and will be released in select theaters on July 1, 2011. The movie, which is based on Tomnay’s 2001 short film ‘The Host’ and marks his feature-length debut, follows John Taylor, played by Clayne Crawford, who just robbed a bank and is trying to escape capture from the LAPD. He shows up at the doorstep of Warwick Wilson, portrayed by Pierce, who is preparing a dinner party for some friends. As the night progresses, the two men both discover how deceiving looks can really be. The two discuss, among other things, how Pierce prepared for his role, and what sort of challenges they faced during the film’s 17 day shoot.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Question (Q): David plays the perfect host in the movie. What were some of the necessary changes that you felt David brought to the character that were different from the original incarnation (‘The Host’)?

Nick Tomnay (NT): Honestly, I didn’t change anything. I just wrote it as I thought it should be. When we were doing it, and when we were rehearsing it, David would come up to me and say, this doesn’t make sense to me. I said, what would you say, and he said so-and-so. Some people said to me in Australia, this doesn’t really feel like an Australian movie, it feels like it can be a tale that could be told anywhere. I agree with that. When I expanded it into a feature film, I wasn’t specifically thinking about America or Australia, I was thinking about telling the tale.

Q: David, when you first got the script for ‘The Perfect Host,’ which is Nick’s first feature film, why did you take the chance on him?

David Hyde Pierce (DHP): I had been drinking. (laughs) No, I had read the script, and I had really liked it. Obviously, the character is incredible for any actor. But also, it’s also a really smart, funny, interesting, twisted, twisty script. So I had loved that, to begin with. I saw the short, ‘The Host,’ so I got a glimpse of Nick’s style as a filmmaker, which is really clear and strong, and also fun, not heavy-handed, that’s something that’s important to me, that there’s humor in the script. You’re allowed to laugh. He did all those things. The last part of it was actually meeting Nick. We had a couple of meetings. It was not just the process of talking through how we would do it and how to play the character. It was also getting to know him, being very comfortable, wanting to work with him. It was a friends level, I would want to spend time with this person, it would be worth a shot.

Q: What about your walk David, the distinctive walk the character has. Was that something you brought, or was it something that was in the script?

NT: No, David did that. I think in rehearsal, you said “Hey, I’m working on this, what do you think?”

DHP: I never said those words! No, I had been drinking. No. (laughs) I’ll tell you, the walk came honestly from early discussions. I don’t want to give too much away. **Spoiler alert: The character has many different aspects to himself, sort of in the beginning and the end of the movie, they’re different sorts of people. I wanted to physicalize that in a way that was noticeable but not so extreme that it wasn’t believable. So one of the ways to do that was to kind of goose the way he moved in the beginning of the movie into one direction, which was more of a fluid, kind of snaky oddness, so that later on in the movie, when his physicality is a little more stolid and lumpy, it would help underscore the differences.

NT: The last shot of the film, you have both Warwicks, which is great. I think that’s something I realized in the editing room, are you doing both? I think at the time, when we were shooting, we were so energetic. In the last shot, David starts off one way, and ends up another way, which is almost like the whole movie in one shot. End spoiler**

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

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