Read Shockya.com's exclusive interview with director Michael Cuesta and his brother, Gerald, with whom he co-wrote the new drama ‘Roadie.’ The film, which is now available on VOD and is scheduled to hit theaters on January 6, 2012, follows the title character, Jimmy Testagross, played by Ron Eldard, as his childhood dream and career of being a roadie for Blue Oyster Cult is cut short when he’s fired. With no other job skills, friends outside of the group he toured with or place to go, Jimmy shamefully returns to his mother’s house in Forest Hills, New York.
Embarrassed to admit his fate to his mother, portrayed by Lois Smith, Jimmy claims he is working as the group’s manager and songwriter. Jimmy continues his lies when he sees his old high school nemesis, Randy, played by Bobby Cannavale, and his wife, Nikki, portrayed by Jill Hennessey, whom he used to date when they were teens. Jimmy undergoes an emotional transformation throughout ‘Roadie,’ despite the events taking place over a period of 24 hours.
While promoting their film in New York City, the Cuestas sat down with us to discuss the process of making the film. Among other things, the two spoke about how ‘Roadie’ features the ever-important message that the ghosts of our past shape our present. They also explained what it was like working together, and how they knew Eldard was the perfect actor to play Jimmy.
Written by: Karen Benardello
ShockYa (SY): The main message in ‘Roadie’ is that some people spend their adulthood living out their childhood dream, and don’t know what to do when the dream ends. Why do you feel this is an important life question many people ask themselves as they near middle age?
Michael Cuesta (MC): Well, I don’t think we ever set out to include a message, or to say any one thing. I think the film talks about a lot of things. I do think that theme you’re talking about is a universal theme that a lot of people can relate to it. Usually, when you write a script, then make the film, you hope that it makes a connection with people, and they can empathize with the main character, as in Jimmy, or the other characters.
It’s like when you read a great book, and you read a passage, you love it, because there’s something in it that you feel you have a one-on-one connection with. It’s only you and those words or you and that film. That’s what we hoped to do. I never, and I think Gerald can speak to this as well, I never go into any movie or script with a very specific message in mind, or the movie’s about this. It starts out with a feeling, it starts out with a character that grows. I know I didn’t answer the question.
Gerald Cuesta (GC): No, I think you did. When originally writing the character, there are pieces of both of us in that character. Also, I think this is something people can relate to. Sometimes, you get stuck. Sometimes you find yourself going back and relying on what gave you that jolt when you were a kid, to give you a jolt again, and it just doesn’t work that way anymore. It’s time to move on. I think it’s a human truth.
Like Michael said, we didn’t say we wanted to sell this specific message. It was just like, this is a character, this is his situation. It comes out of that.
SY: Where did you get the idea to write ‘Roadie,’ and what kind of research did you do before you began working on the script?
MC: Well, Gerald, you can start speaking of the knowledge of the roadie and Forest Hills.
GC: I lived in Forest Hills at the time, when I was writing it originally, when I wrote the original first draft. I was there for seven years, I got to know the neighborhood, the feel of the streets and everything.
In terms of the roadie thing, I just read, we both read stories about rock ‘n’ roll roadies, the arena rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. As far as the knowledge of the band, that really wasn’t research, that was because I grew up with the band. That was the band we loved to listen to. Also, our friends did too, through our junior high years. That knowledge was just there.
SY: Did you have any disagreements while you were writing the script, or did you have the same vision for it?
GC: We had a lot of disagreements.
MC: Yes, we did.
GC: All the projects we’ve worked on together, there are times where we disagree. I had originally written the script as a much broader comedy. Michael read it, and said you really have a good character here, you have a really good situation in the beginning. I want to take that, and get rid of everything else, and get to the truth. Through it all, Michael really pushed, let’s get to the truth, cut away all the fat.
Through it all, there were times where we may have disagreed, and said, let’s keep this, or maybe go this way or go that way. But that’s part of the process.
MC: Part of the disagreement too was that it was so hard to articulate what we wanted. Sometimes you can only do it by doing it yourself. You’re trying to collaborate, and you’re saying I want this, I want this, you know, just let me do it. So a lot of it’s that.
But I would say the main argument, and I was never articulating it, but now I see what it was, to always be inside Jimmy, the main character. See the film completely through his eyes. That’s a lot harder than it sounds, because my nature, the story is objective. You’re not in a first person, like a book. The camera’s not set inside his head.
I would say that’s the thing we argued about. It’s not that I was right and he was wrong, it’s just getting to that place. He had an interpretation of it, and I had an interpretation of it.
To continue reading this interview, please visit: Interview: Michael and Gerald Cuesta Talk Roadie | Shockya.com