Now playing in theaters is DreamWorks comedy Delivery Man. Ken Scott directs this remake of his 2011 Canadian hit Starbuck. Vince Vaughn stars as a sperm donor who ends up being the biological father to 533 kids due to a mix up at the clinic. Those kids are now suing to find out his identity, and Vaughn’s character sets out to become an anonymous “guardian angel” to his illegitimate children. The film also stars Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, and Britt Robertson. For more on Delivery Man, watch the trailer.
At the recent Los Angeles press day, I landed an exclusive interview with Britt Robertson. She talked about being a fan of Vince Vaughn and what it was like to work with him, the way she prepares for a role, what she collects, getting to work with Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof on Tomorrowland (plus a bit on her character), her reaction to reading the script for the first time, Under the Dome, Jon Kasdan’s The First Time, and more. Hit the jump for what she had to say.
BRITT ROBERTSON: Good.
So I’m definitely going to start with the most important question. Are you ready?
Have you emailed or called Jon Kasdan to say thank for for The First Time, because he cast Kristen Stewart before Twilight, and he cast you before you sort of – Under the Dome, Tomorrowland, like that?
ROBERTSON: I thank Jon Kasdan for lots of things in life and actually, the last time I was in town, not this time obviously, but the last time I did take him out for drinks and was like, “We need to catch up, and also, you’re awesome.” So yes, I do thank him on a regular basis ‘cause he’s a bad ass and he’s a really cool dude.
I think The First Time is actually a really, really well done movie.
ROBERTSON: Thank you. It’s pretty cool, right?
ROBERTSON: It’s the film I’m most proud of.
I thought he had a very unique voice and I thought it was good.
ROBERTSON: Yeah, he’s good.
Jumping to why I get to talk to you today. So I definitely have to say: Vince Vaughn, I’m a big fan. I’m assuming you were too. What was it like having scenes with him?
ROBERTSON: Having scenes with him was awesome. I mean, you know, they’re really, really cool scenes, really well-written, and they’re fun, exciting scenes. They’re something I’ve never really done before. It was cool just being able to work with him. Structurally, it was pretty loose, and we were able to just rant and riff. It was one of the scenes actually, that Ken [Scott, director/writer], you know felt strongly about just being able to keep it free flowing with the words and improv a little bit. For the most part it was true to the script, but that scene, for one of my main scenes in the film, we were able to kind of able to jive and do some Vince-isms, which I consider just improv in general, but yeah. It was fun.
ROBERTSON: Yeah, for sure. Like, I was bummed that I wouldn’t have that version of Vince, but then I also felt privileged to be a part of a movie that he isn’t — um, he hasn’t really done this kind of thing before, so it was cool to have this different version of Vince than people of scene before. I was bummed that I didn’t get to hear his F bombs, but there are plenty of times for that off screen.
As an actor, how do you generally prepare for your roles? Are you one of these people that as soon as you get the script, you’re breaking it down? ‘Cause I’ve been spoken to actors that do it two different ways. I’m just curious about your process.
ROBERTSON: I don’t know if it’s like a specific process either way. For me, what I do is for this film in particular — or most films in general — what I like to do is take each scene as just like a separate story, and sort of arc it out, generally with the entire movie. Like, A to B, where’s my character going, where is the movie going, and then where is the protagonist and the antagonist — how do they coincide, coexist — and what is my part contributing to the film. So it’s like I always have to have an objective. Obviously I need to know what I’m doing for this movie, so that I can contribute that in some way. For this, my part is to impact him in some way, so that he feels a connection and tie to me emotionally and also biologically, and so later it gives his character this tug-of-war, like, “Do I tell them? Do I take the money? What I do?” It varies from project to project, but for me, there wasn’t a lot in the story as far as backstory goes, for my character or for any of the children, so you kind of have to create that — and even on the phone, and it’s sort of nondescript dialogue and so you kind of have to build that in as an actor even though it’s not there. That was sort of my process for this film particularly.
What is the most you’ve researched/preparation you’ve done for any of your roles?
ROBERTSON: Well, the film that I’m doing right now there’s sort of a lot of — I play a highly intelligent young woman and she’s a young girl who knows a lot, and so I’ve had to research more than anything I’ve ever researched for, and so that’s been challenging because it’s topics I don’t know anything about and I had to speak with people who do understand. It’s hard, I can’t say anything about it!
ROBERTSON: But there’s a lot of like — plot, you know–
You have to say big words.
ROBERTSON: Not even big words, I just have to know about NASA and technology and things that I would never learn about as an actor unless I was playing somebody who understands technology and NASA.
That’s also at the same time very exciting, because, I think that one of the cool things is being able to constantly explore different walks and learning about things you would never normally learn.
ROBERTSON: Most definitely, and then attacking them from a different way than you would because you are portraying someone else and you see things in a different light than someone else.
I’ve been asking everyone this…what do you collect?
ROBERTSON: What do I collect? Aprons. Like, I like to collect aprons from different places I go. I first started when I was in Italy, because I thought that would be really appropriate. I got a hand-stitched Italian apron from this woman in Sicily who put my name on it and it said, “Sicily, Italy.” So now I get one from everywhere I go.
Do you have an obscene collection now?
ROBERTSON: No, I don’t. That’s what’s sad about it. It’s very limited, but that’s the point, you accumulate them over the course of years and years.
I’m gonna jump into a TV show you are a part of. Obviously a very successful show out of the blue. I know it did very well around the world as well. Were you a little stunned at the level of interest/success?
ROBERTSON: That Under the Dome had?
ROBERTSON: We were sort of hoping for it I think. It was one of those shows that had a lot of really great people attached to it and that’s why it was appealing in the first place. Like with Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and then our showrunners are really–
I’m a huge Brian K. Vaughan fan.
ROBERTSON: Yeah, Brian’s awesome and Neal Baer. They’re cool people and they’ve been working on really awesome shows for a long time, so I think we anticipated that it would be good at least, but I don’t think any of us thought as many people would watch it as they have, and that’s been really awesome and gratifying.
I think one of the cool things about it is that’s only thirteen episodes seasons, and I think that TV — when they do twenty-two, twenty-four episodes — can water down the story.
ROBERTSON: Oh yeah. Totally.
What have you heard about next season? Have they told you anything? Can you tease anybody anything?
ROBERTSON: I mean, I haven’t really been told anything, to be honest. I know that Stephen King is writing our first episode, so that should be really gruesome and intense. Hopefully, he’ll give us some really cool stuff to do, which I’m sure he will, ‘cause he’s one of those guys that like to push the boundaries. Watering down things is not to his satisfaction. So you can definitely expect some shock and awe, and I don’t know. I think I heard rumors that we’d be fast forwarding a little bit in time. I don’t know if that means five days where we pick up or if it’s like five years. We’ve all aged a little. I don’t know.
I also obviously want to touch on — I’m a massive fan of Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird. I know you can’t talk specifically about the movie and I will not ask you to, but I am curious about your reaction when you first were getting approached for possibly being in it and reading the script for the first time. I spoke to some of the others actors, and they mentioned they had to, like, go to a room and read it on their own.
ROBERTSON: At first — I auditioned for this thing, like, a million times over the course of a year. It was so top secret, when I first auditioned, to the point where the sides weren’t real. You didn’t get any backstory, you don’t understand what you’re talking about, and there’s subject matter that does not make any sense. There’s no context. So when I was auditioning, I was just kind of like, “I don’t know. I think this is right,” and I did that for maybe four or five times, and finally I kept getting further down or just closer to meeting Brad. At this point, I hadn’t even met Brad, and then when I finally met with him, I was able to read the script, and I had to go in a room and read it by myself. I was like, crying.
That’s what I’ve heard from people.
ROBERTSON: Yeah, everyone’s like — walking out, because it has so many different things that are — I don’t know. Whatever, we won’t talk about it, but my reaction when I first read it was it made quite an impact, for sure, and then it made the process of auditioning even harder, because at this point I was like, “I need this movie. This is my movie. Like, I want this movie.” So when Damon and Brad finally called and told me that I had the job, it was just like, “What?” I couldn’t even process it, but it was cool. Very cool.
What has it been like working for Brad as a director? The guy’s a genius.
ROBERTSON: He is a genius. It’s scary. I have to forget every day that I’m working with Brad Bird, because he’s so good and he’s like an icon, you know? It’s great, but he’s like most — he’s everything you think an animation director would be. He’s really specific, and he can manipulate everything to make his vision come alive, and that’s all he wants: is for this movie to be what he wants it to be, and he’s so passionate about this movie. So we’re just working our butts off trying to give it to him every day, and I think it’s gonna be pretty good.
My last question for you, because I gotta wrap: what are you thinking about after you wrap on Tomorrowland? Which I know is a long shoot. Do you jump right into Under the Dome again, or do you sort of have time to do something else?
ROBERTSON: I probably will jump into the Under the Dome fairly quickly. I think they start shooting in February and we wrap in February, so I’ll probably go back there pretty quickly, but I’m also going to try to take a couple days off to reboot the system, you know?