Interview: Nicole Holofcener, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette and Julia Louis-Dreyfus talk Enough Said
In one of his final roles, James Gandolfini plays against type, yet with Enough Said it would seem to be a role with which he related and of which he wanted more opportunities.
“I think he was a little bit tentative, he felt a bit undeserving of the part, which made him more deserving,” said his costar Julia Louis-Dreyfus during a roundtable interview amid the Toronto International Film Festival. “It speaks to the character. Albert is a gentle giant, and that’s who James was.”
In Nicole Holofcener’s romantic comedy, Albert and Eva (Dreyfus) begin to date, but both are somewhat hesitant and a bit awkward. They are each themselves divorced, and both are seeing teenage girls off to college, and so they have to deal with all the life experiences and lessons that come with their past and present relationships.
“He an amazing actor, he was very easy to fall in love with,” added Louis-Dreyfus. Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Italy on June 19, 2013 at the age of 51. The tender, sweet, and hopeful Albert certainly shows a different side of an actor who is best known for his role of Tony Soprano, with this, an honest adult film about relationships.
“I imagine he wanted to do that for a long time, and I think that he jumped at the chance to be in a movie like this,” offered Holofcener, who wrote and directed the film that played at TIFF and opens wide this Friday. “Even though as soon as he got there he seemed kind of terrified and miscast, I had to reassure him.”
“He was very shy and self effacing. I think he couldn’t stand being famous,” she continued. “He was incredibly gracious, more with a working man mentality than that of a movie star. He also had a great sense of a humor, he was a clown.”
“While his mood was occasionally playful, improvising some of the especially funny lines in the film and joking with his fellow actors, he was serious and inquisitive during the more emotional scenes.”
“I didn’t know him before, but I was a really big fan, and got a real kick out of the idea of working him,” said Toni Collette, who play’s Eva’s close friend Sarah. “He’s quietly perceptive and has this kind of steady quality. I think he felt very vulnerable playing the part, very much like his character; really sweet and generous.”
“He was also cheeky and a bit naughty,” added Collette.
Catherine Keener, who befriends Eva and also happens to be Albert’s ex-wife, echoed similar sentiments about Gandolfini. “He’s very generous. The humility he approached things with, it was astonishing. It’s very exciting when he was involved in something.”
It is difficult to dissociate his death with the film, however winning, charming, funny, and compelling the movie is. As it is a marked turn for the late actor, it shows his diversity, despite it being for the last time. To her credit, Dreyfus shows a different side too, and Holofcener hopes audiences will be surprised.
“Obviously she hasn’t been offered parts like this, and I didn’t know she could do it. I did not think of her when I was writing it, but I was a huge fan,” said Holofcener, who wrote the character of Eva after herself to an extent. “When they said, ‘do you want to meet her?’ I said, ‘are you kidding!’ I was a terrified. I’m still kind of pinching myself.”
“It was fabulous to work with Nicole,” said Louis-Dreyfus. “The script was just an outstanding achievement on her part, ad it was a great character to get into. We had the same sensibility, creatively, dramatically, and we both really opened up to each other.”
Louis-Dreyfus, who has children ages 21 and 16, said she could relate to Eva, a woman about to lose her daughter to college life. “The dread of this impending departure, I tell you I totally got that 100%. I lived and breathed that.”
Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini worked closed with Holofcener to craft the right ending for the film, talking it out together and improvising lines until they felt that hit the spot.
“We worked hard on it, debated and tried different things,” said Louis- Dreyfus. “When [Gandolfini and I] finally got it, when we felt we nailed it, which is the moment you see on film, we both walked off the set and just hugged each other, a big fat hug. We felt triumphant.”