I interviewed Oscar nominee Amy Ryan for my MSN feature “What’s In You DVD Player?” Here a few highlights from the conversation:
Helene McCready, your character in “Gone Baby Gone,” is self-involved, unlikable and a dreadfully irresponsible mother. What is it about the character that interests you?
How do you approach a character like that? What’s your entry into creating her?
First it’s the script, reading and trying to understand her. But then when we got to Boston I was walking the neighborhood and getting to know the place and talking to the people. There’s the accent. And then there’s the costume and shoes. I think shoes are very important because they help define the walk and the body language. I talked with the hairdresser and the costume people and said that I thought that she had made herself up to look good, her idea of looking good, three days ago, and then let herself go. She hasn’t washed her hair or changed in the three days since her kid went missing. And then we go from there.
I’m sure Ben Affleck was your toughest critic when it came to the Boston accent.
Actually he would tell me not to worry about it, just to focus on the character and on the scene. He’d say, “We can fix it in post.”
Being an actor himself, do you think Ben Affleck comes to directing with a different perspective in directing actors than directors like Sidney Lumet?
Well Sidney, he’s in a class by himself. He’s amazing. But yes, with Ben there is a difference. It’s the way he communicates with actors. He speaks the same language and knows how to tell us what he wants. An actor’s job a lot of times is to interpret what the director wants.
What kind of notes did he give you on the character?
He always pushed me to go farther with the character, to push her beyond where I was. I said, “Really? You want me to take her there?” He was really great.