One of the many films to world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer/director Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. The film is based on the true story of artist/cartoonist John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) who became a quadriplegic and nearly lost his life after a night of drinking with his friend (Jack Black). Eventually he enters treatment for his alcohol addiction in AA and finds comfort from his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and a charismatic sponsor (Jonah Hill). Along the way he starts drawing irreverent and shocking cartoons which get published in the New Yorker, Penthouse, and Playboy. As you might expect from a movie that stars Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill, the performances are fantastic and reason enough to seek out this film.
Shortly before seeing the film at the world premiere at Sundance, I got to talk with Gus Van Sant, Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill and Jack Black about the film. They shared some funny memorable moments from filming (Jack Black share a great story about ripping a bit of improv from Joaquin Phoenix), the challenges of trying to make Don’t Worry in 25 days, what it was about the material that got Gus Van Sant and the cast involved, what it was like shooting the group scenes, what Van Sant learned from early screenings, and a lot more.
Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis.
Finally, a huge thank you to everyone at Kia and The Future Party for helping to make these interviews happen at the Kia Supper Suite and offering up transportation in the all new Kia Stinger high performance Sportback for our guests. We’d also like to thank Altec Lansing, Kunde Wines, Blue Moon Brewing, and Topo Chico for their support.
Gus Van Sant, Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill and Jack Black:
- How this is Gus’ first screenplay in ten years so what was it about the story that got him to write it?
- Did he envision any actors in the roles while writing the script?
- How did the actors get involved in the project?
- How they shot the movie in only 25 days and the challenges of such a short production schedule.
- How do the actors like to work on set in terms of how many takes they like to do?
- How did they shoot the group scenes?
They share memorable moments from filming including a bit about Jack Black about ripping a bit of improv from Joaquin Phoenix.
- Jonah Hill talks about the last scene he shot and what it meant to him.
- What did Gus learn from any early screenings that impacted the finished film?
Here’s the official synopsis for Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot:
After Portland slacker John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) nearly loses his life in a car accident, the last thing he intends to do is give up drinking. But when he reluctantly enters treatment – with encouragement from his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and a charismatic sponsor (Jonah Hill) – Callahan discovers a gift for drawing edgy, irreverent newspaper cartoons that develop a national following and grant him a new lease on life. Based on a true story, this poignant, insightful and often funny drama about the healing power of art is adapted from Callahan’s autobiography and directed by two-time Oscar® nominee Gus Van Sant. Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein, Beth Ditto and Kim Gordon also star.