Robert Edwards Talks 'One More Time,' Amber Heard Jamming and Christopher Walken Owning it

Photo Credit: Robert Edwards
April 8th, 2016


As if you needed another reason to fall in love with Amber Heard, but did you know she can sing? I mean, really sing well. And she plays guitar! If you don’t believe me you can watch her perform in the new film One More Time where she plays the daughter of Paul (Christopher Walken) who is an aging crooner desperately desiring a comeback.  Director of the film, Robert Edwards, recently sat down with us here at TheMovieNetwork.com and told us all about this movie, working with Amber and Christopher along with his future projects. Here is the trailer for One More Time which has just been released in Theaters and On Demand.

 

 


TMN: Where did this story come from, 'cause you wrote and directed the film? 

Robert Edwards: Yeah, yeah. Well, they say, "Write what you know," but I didn't know anything about this world, at all.

[laughter]

Robert Edwards: I don't come from a show business family. I don't have any sisters. It was pure imagination. But, I got interested in the idea of an artist, especially a performer, who's personal life is at odds with his public persona. So, a guy like this who's known for being very romantic, and making this lush kind of make out music, but in real life, is not somebody that you really want to be involved in a relationship with. That was something that interested me. So, I just kind of got to thinking about what it would be like to be in the orbit of somebody like that, especially in their family. And then the story of a daughter just kind of made the most sense of the way to tell it.

TMN: The film is part comedy and I loved how Paul, who's played by Christopher Walken, I loved how he is always telling these phenomenal, phenomenal musical stories and his whole family just totally ignores him.

[laughter]

Robert Edwards: I'm glad you like that. Yeah. That's very deliberate, and he did it brilliantly, so yeah. I'm glad that resonated.

TMN: He'd be talking about the Beatles or something, and they're talking about not using their cell phone at the table. [laughter]

Robert Edwards: Right, right. It's like, no matter how famous you are, your family's probably tired of hearing your stories.

TMN: It was kind of a characteristic throughout the film.

Robert Edwards: Yeah, it's like he always wants to tell the stories, and hold court, and their patience for that is a little bit limited.

[laughter]

TMN: I also like Jude's character a lot, because she's the one, I think, most people in their teens and 20s can relate to, because, what I saw, she's someone who sometimes sees her talent as more of a curse than anything, 'cause it's what she wants to do, but she's scared to do it, and she doesn't want to do anything else. Is there a little bit of yourself in Jude?

Robert Edwards: I don't know if there's any of me in her, but I could certainly understand that mindset. And I know a lot of people like that who... They have a lot of talent, but, for some reason, they're not able to bring it to fruition. I never understood that fear of success thing, or maybe that's not the best way to describe it, but that inability to kinda carry it through, for whatever reason. In her case, she's got a lot of baggage. She's got this father who was sort of absent when she was growing up, but was not a traditional father. That's why she won't call him 'Dad', and all that stuff. So, she's got a bunch of handicaps. It's not entirely her own angst that's keeping her from succeeding. But, I was interested in a character that felt three dimensional, that wasn't just heroic, or villainous, or a screw up, but had lots of different things going on.

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TMN: I like the relationship between Jude, who's played by Amber Heard, and Paul, by Walken, because, as much as Jude thought they were different, to me, they seem like they were really, really similar.

Robert Edwards: Oh, they are. That's the thing. They're too similar.

TMN: Yeah. How do you think Jude mirrored Paul? 

Robert Edwards: Oh, well, I think I like the idea of a story where there's two sisters, and both of them think the other one is the favorite. So, Jude is the one who inherited all the talent, but also all the self-destructiveness, so, like Paul, she's promiscuous, she does drugs, she can't get her act together, she's kind of a mess. I don't know if she really understands how much she's like her father, maybe she does. Or maybe she doesn't, or maybe she is just afraid to face that, because it's too painful to think that she likes this guy who's been problematic for her, her whole life. And Paul, even though he's a narcissist, and kind of a big child, and all that, just by sheer years and age, he's accumulated a certain amount of wisdom about those things. And, I think he's trying to pass them on to his daughter. The problem is, he has no creditability with her. So, she's sort of attuned it out.

TMN: You were really lucky to have such great actors in your film.

Robert Edwards: Agreed. Yes.

TMN: Well, there was a lot of good actors, not just Amber and Christopher, but I need to know what it was like working with Amber. I have to know, 'cause I've never talked to anybody that's worked with her, and I want to know what she's like on set, how was it working with her? 

Robert Edwards: Yeah, well, I met her and she had read the script and immediately that first meeting it was clear that she had a very good understanding of the character and the story. She fully understood it from the get-go and that was one thing that impressed me the most. And she was fantastic. She was so prepared. She's in almost every scene, so she worked like a dog. Low budget, independent movie, tough conditions in the winter, it's not the usual Hollywood thing with trailers, and she was just a total trooper, very prepared everyday. She told me when we first met that she loved music, and was a fan, and steeped in it, but had never sung even in the shower, she says.

TMN: Really? 

Robert Edwards: Yeah, that's what she said. I was shocked. She said she would be willing to take lessons in that if I was going to take a chance with her, and I did. And so, she worked her ass off to do that stuff, and it's very, very brave for somebody who's never sung before to get up in front of an audience being filmed, and do that. I can't say enough good things about her. She's very smart because she knows with the way she looks, she's in danger of getting pigeon-holed in Hollywood, right? 

They want her to play the hot chick, or femme fatale, or somebody's girlfriend. And she's much more talented than that, and I think this movie offered her a chance to show people that she can do different things.

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TMN: So you're saying she actually played and sang those songs? 

Robert Edwards: She sang the songs, and she played. She's learned some guitar, some piano, and a little bit of bass also. And, yeah. And so, she performed all of her own material.

TMN: Did Christopher sing his songs, too? 

Robert Edwards: Yeah, he did his songs also. Of course, he's the opposite because he grew up in musical theater. He was a chorus boy when he was a little kid, and everybody knows he's a great dancer. So he could sing and dance, but he was also a little bit leery because he said, "Oh, you know, this guy, you need a great singer, you need a amazing voice." I said, "Well first of all, I know you've got a much better voice than you gives himself credit for. And secondly, Paul was a little bit past his prime so it can be a little bit ragged."

You don't have to have Pavarotti here. And so, I just think he was being modest. It was great to have him come in and sing the songs, 'cause we recorded some stuff beforehand but then they also sang live on the day, so there's a mixture of it in the movie. And that was a real treat to have Christopher Walken do a musical number for us.

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TMN: I feel like getting Christopher Walken as one of my leads would take tons of pressure off.

Robert Edwards: Yeah, well that was one of the things is that we knew for that part that Paul, whoever played Paul, had to bring a certain amount of charm and charisma to the table. Because on paper, Paul could be pretty harsh and the wrong actor, the audience won't identify with him at all. With Walken, we had almost the opposite problem. He's so charming and so much fun that an early cut to the film when we showed it to people, they didn't think Paul was doing anything wrong, like we say, "Yeah, but isn't Paul mean to Jude? Isn't he harsh here? Or harsh there?" They're like, "No, he's so charming." So we had to make some surgical adjustments in the edit to kind of bring it into balance. So that's the problem when you have Christopher Walken, if it was anything.

TMN: I was wondering how you wanted the audience to perceive his character because he's obviously this egotistical and selfish man.

Robert Edwards: Yup, yeah. That's the thing, but the character is toasting, and getting away with things because of his talent and his charm and his charisma, and Christopher brought that in spades. Like Amber, he totally understood his character, and was able to use that. Like I said, so much so that we had to adjust things a little bit so that it was more of a fair fight.

TMN: The film obviously has a large music theme, and different genres and generation gaps, I wanted to ask you what music you felt connects genres and generations more than others? What artists at least have done that for you? 

Robert Edwards: Well, when I was younger, I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s, and I feel like in those days it was a lot more us versus them. There wasn't any cross over. When I was a teenager, if you listen to rock, you didn't have the time of day for Frank Sinatra, nobody gave a s%$#.

[chuckle]

Robert Edwards: It was like there were battle lines between the old and the new. And in the decade since then, I think people have become a lot more open minded in part because the original generations of rock stars have now become senior citizens themselves, so it's not just the young versus old thing. And I think people are much more open to the crossing of genres. So when you see Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett duetting nobody bats an eyelash, they think it's cool, and it is cool. So that's a good thing. Like when Bowie died recently I was a huge Bowie fan, and then an outpouring of love for Bowie was very moving. But when I was young, a lot of people hated Bowie. He was a freak, and he was this, and he was that. So it's funny how the passage of time smooths the rough edges, and people get some selective amnesia, and they sort of forget and they get a lot more welcoming, and a lot more open minded about that. And that's a great thing.

TMN: Speaking of freaky, you had Paul open up for the Flaming Lips and I wanted to ask you, did you try to get them in the film? 

Robert Edwards: Yeah, they were supposed to be in the film. They very graciously let us use the song and the name and everything, and they were gonna be in that scene back stage like mingling after the concert, because they loved Christopher Walker also. But in the end, their tour schedule conflicted with our shooting schedule. So we couldn't have them in the movie, but I'm glad we could at least have the song in that scene.

TMN: Now, you said you're not a song writer at all, right? 

Robert Edwards: Well, I'm a fan, and I've doodled around and stuff like that. I have a brother who's a musician, but I would not consider myself a songwriter, no.

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TMN: Well, you're a good film maker so how did you get into that? 

Robert Edwards: I came from this military family, grew up in the military, I was in the military for a long time. And then when I got out, I landed in film school at Standford, which is a documentary only program. And I started working as documentary filmmaker, and editor, and I met my wife who has a film at Tribeca this year, as a matter fact called 'The Last Laugh' featured documentary. And then I had an idea for a narrative film, and wrote the script. The idea was that we were gonna make it the way we've made our documentaries. She was a shooter, we had a Super 16 camera. I was an editor, we were gonna cut it off Final Cut 1.0. And then if the script got into the hands of some folks in Hollywood, and all of a sudden I was in that world, which I'd never planned on being. So it kinda happened to me accidentally. And just being a music fan and interested in that world, the chance to write something like this that's set in that world and to write the songs that go in it and play with all that pop culture stuff that I grew up with was really a pleasure.

TMN: Now, I'm guessing, I was gonna ask you this, but I'm guessing you just answered the question. Is Eloise, is that your wife? 

Robert Edwards: That's my daughter. My wife is Ferne Pearlstein who's one of the producers of the film. She was also the second unit director. We've worked together for almost 20 years now. We worked together on her new film called The Last Laugh. We actually had four films at Tribeca counting the new one going back to 2003.

We had one called Sumo East and West about Sumo wrestling. My first narrative film Land of the Blind was there. And this film was there last year, and this year her film The Last Laugh.

TMN: What is that film about?

Robert Edwards: It's very different than this. It's about taboos and humor, and what's off limits, what you can't joke about. Receiving from the premise that the Holocaust would seem like that's the open off-limits topic. But of course it isn't. I mean when you dig into it, there's a lot of humor surrounding the Holocaust. Mel Brooks is in the film, Sarah Silverman, Harry Shearer and lots of other folks. So yeah, check it out if you get the chance.

TMN: What else can we look forward to see from you now? 

Robert Edwards: I've a new project that we're hoping to shoot maybe in the winter called The Bomb in My Garden. Very different from One More Time. It's based on the memoir of a Iraqi scientist who was the head of Saddam Hussein's Uranium Enrichment Program for decades. And went around on on the black market in Europe, buying the pieces for a centrifuge to enrich uranium to weapons grade. And then when US invaded in '91, he took those components and plans, and he buried them in his backyard in Baghdad. They stayed there for 12 years until the 2003 invasion. And then he dug 'em up, took 'em to the US authorities and said "Look, this is what I have to give you. I know you wanna throw me in prison but I'm willing to trade this if you get me out and my family out of Iraq." So, it's about his relationship with a American journalist who helped them escape from Iraq.