Jonathan Demme on “Rachel Getting Married”

My interview with Jonathan Demme was published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today. It was originally scheduled to be in person at the Toronto International Film Festival, but Demme canceled his interviews at the last minute. A few weeks later, a phone interview was arranged. His energy and enthusiasm was so palpable over the phone that I really regret missing the chance to meet him in person, but I was very happy to talk to him under any circumstances. Despite the time he extended me, we never beyond discussing his latest film, Rachel Getting Married, which turned out to be just fine.

Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt
Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt

How did you come to cast Anne Hathaway?

I realized that what I loved about the script is that it’s so different, but what if it’s so different that no one else would even get it? So I thought, “Let’s see what an actress might think.” And Anne, I think, is the most exciting actress of that generation, and there are many of them. I sent it to her and she read it right away and loved it and we really moved forward from there.

What inspired the complete change of style on this film?

I’ve made a lot of movies over the past couple of decades and worked very hard to try to, quote-unquote, “perfect a style” that would pull the audience into the movie, but it reached the point where I know how I’m going to do a scene before I even get there. I didn’t think that that approach would work for such a loose-limbed script. Rather, I thought, I want to try to draw the audience into this another way, make them feel that what they’re watching is really happening, and we can do that by using the kind of style that Declan and I have been working with, documentary style.

How so?

We did not rehearse, ever. We never planned a shot. The actors never knew if they were going to be on camera from take to take. They had to be on all the time and they loved to be on, this group of actors. They thought, it turns out, that they were doing theater.

Read the complete interview here. My review of the film runs on Friday.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website ( I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View ( I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly,, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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