Earlier this year I was invited to the set of In Time, the new sci-fi thriller from high-concept auteur Andrew Niccol. In the film, which comes out October 28, Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried play a pair of Bonnie and Clyde style bandits on the run in a future world where aging has been eliminated and time has become money.
While on the set, I got to participate in a group interview with Timberlake and Seyfried to discuss their roles in the film, their approach to acting, what it’s like to feel old when you’re still under 30, why hostage-taking is a great way to get to know someone, why being a movie star is harder than going on a world tour with N’Sync, possible titles for a prequel that both stars promise will never happen, and much more. Hit the jump for the full interview.
SEYFRIED: The concept for me it was like, different
TIMBERLAKE: I had sort of two or three meetings with Andrew before I decided to do it. It is a high concept, so I think my conversations with him were more to find out how we could really bring out the characters as well. Because I thought the idea was amazing and I think Andrew’s obviously pretty prolific when it comes to this type of concept and film. But he said he was looking to delve deeper and see what he could bring out of it with this experience and so that seemed like it would be fun to try to Rubik’s Cube with him… I just used Rubik’s Cube as a verb…
SEYFRIED: As a verb, I know it’s incredible
TIMBERLAKE: So, I’m done here right?
Are you feeling pressure to carry the movie?
TIMBERLAKE: Am I feeling pressure to carry the movie? I don’t really look at it that way. After reading the script, there are two really interesting arcs for both of our characters and I think there’s a little bit of… And the movie definitely starts off with my story, but after you meet Amanda’s character in the middle of the film, and through our sort of relationship and our affair… um, she has a great arc. I feel like, obviously, it’s going to hard to answer a lot of these questions while we’re making the movie. I’ve never done this before, so forgive me if I seem the opposite of specific – what you guys are looking for. But after reading it, I feel like you start off seeing the movie through my character and you end up getting the value out of Amanda’s character’s arc in the second half in the film.
SEYFRIED: Together. As we kind of go through it together…
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, I think it kind of becomes a two-hander in a way.
So Amanda, how and why do you get involved? Take us through a little bit of your arc. You’re a hostage initially, right?
TIMBERLAKE: My fault.
SEYFRIED: Yeah, it’s a boring life, just to sit around and trying not to die, basically. Which is… in that society having so much time, having so much money, whatever. It’s everybody has a bodyguard, everybody eats really… it’s a very mundane existence; they just eat like egg whites and try to stay healthy. She just wants adventures. She’s young and she’s got no one around to share the same feelings with and her dad is overly controlling and basically she just wants to get out. And she sees this guy coming from – she doesn’t know where he’s from – he seems like trouble, in a good way. And then all of a sudden she has no choice, because he takes her hostage. And I think at first it’s really scary, because this is not how she would have gone about getting out of her life. But at the same time, she’s exhilarated by the danger and the experience and also the possibilities.
TIMBERLAKE: Mostly sick of egg whites though
SEYFRIED: She just wants to get away from the smell…
TIMBERLAKE: I think they both think, when they first meet each other in the movie, it’s a great… it’s sort of great for their relationship. They both see each other from other sides of the fence because this world that we live in in this film has completely separated society into two classes. And I think Andrew always have a very interesting way of writing things that when you see them in a film, you kind of go, ‘Oh, that mirrors a bigger idea that I can relate to what’s going on in society right now.’ But I think specifically for our characters, we see each other from the other side of the fence and we both underestimate the other one’s values. And you know someone who comes from nothing sees someone who has everything as probably, ‘Spoiled’ and, ‘Bratty’ and whatever descriptives you know to relate to the opposite, for her character. Um, and I think we learn through crazy… you know through my kidnapping her and us being shoved into this high-paced you know run from the law, so to speak, we learn that we have more in common than we think and that turns into sort of like… the other person turns into a confidant in that way and the relationship kind of blossoms after that.
SEYFRIED: And then we have sex.
How difficult has it been to adjust to the sort of generational dynamic that you guys have parental figures who are played by actors who are your same age…
TIMBERLAKE: The first week of filming, we got all that weirdness out of the way so to speak because Olivia Wilde, who plays my mom and is three years younger than me in real life. Um, I’ve got to tell you, man. I officially, you know… Social Network and this film make me feel old because all the castmembers are younger than me. Or most of them. But, but yeah, you have to… it was a real challenge, and we spent a lot of rehearsal together sort of figuring out, I think. Olivia and I sat down in our first rehearsal and we talked about the things that our parents do with us. The things that really registered in our memory that our parents naturally do with us and will always continue to do. I mean we all know what it’s like to have a mom and they never really change and you go through life and they always look at you the same way. So I think that value, really, really helps. But I think it was one of those things where, I sat and I said, ‘My mom would do this and always do this.’ And it was one of those things we just really spent time together… It’s really funny, it felt like one of those things you would do in class or something where, ‘Okay, you’re the mother and you’re the son and, go!’
TIMBERLAKE: And it really did feel like that. But I think it’s just one of those things, you know? Obviously, you just commit. And I think Olivia was very conscious of – I don’t want to speak for her – but I know she was very conscious of moving in a way that felt, like more motherly and maternal. And it’s definitely… When I first read it, it didn’t hit me as hard as when you first see it. You know, the movie is going to open up with me waking up and walking into the kitchen. And any other movie where I and Olivia Wilde are the first two actors you see in the movie, you’re like, ‘Oh, they’re obviously together.’ But I walk in to say, ‘Good morning, Mom.’ I’m sure it’ll be a shock for the audience. But it’s a cool… as the movie progresses, when you see that everyone looks the same age, I think you start to let it go…
SEYFRIED: But then they don’t act the same age, which is crazy. I’m a little envious of the people that get to play these older characters, like Vincent [Kartheiser], because, I mean, in my career I like to look for characters that are so unlike me and then that’s the challenge; trying to relate to someone like that. So he’s trying relate to someone that’s like 80-years old. I think his character is like 80 years. And it’s just so weird, so you have to study that, and like, the nuances of someone that’s lived, like 60 years longer than you. It’s crazy to think…
TIMBERLAKE: I actually think Matt Bomer had the most challenging role in the movie. He plays 115 or 116 or something like that. I don’t know what you’d research to try to figure that out. Um, I think it’s just one of the things, you sort of ask yourself at some point, what would you hope? What values and characteristics would you hope to have if you got to live that long? And I think you’d hope for a certain type of grace and a certain type of patience and all of the things that none of us obviously possess.
SEYFRIED: Or is it proven that like…
TIMBERLAKE: I wish you wouldn’t interrupt me when I’m talking.
SEYFRIED: …We’re more like the same. Doesn’t it kind of… Maybe we’re realizing that we’re more similar to our elders than we think? Just because…
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, Yeah
SEYFRIED: …Of like, the way we look…
TIMBERLAKE: Absolutely. I think this is the type of movie where a lot of people walk out and say… You know, you ask those certain types of questions. And I think, to go back to the beginning of where we started… I mean, I think that’s a big reason why I said yes to this movie is, because when I finished it, it made me ask so many questions about myself. And that’s an interesting exercise. So hopefully the audience… The moviegoer will have that same experience.
You talked about being older than some of your castmates on The Social Network and on this film, and with having you both been entertainers from a very young age, does it help you relate to the role? In the sense that a lot of young actors don’t continue on with the success that you both have had. Do you feel almost like there’s a little watch counting down on your wrist sometimes?
TIMBERLAKE: Well, I feel that way in general. It has nothing to do…
SEYFRIED: You old man, you.
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, I make a joke that years in this business are like dog years. It really is an amazing job. You get to learn so much; you step in someone else’s shoes and you’re going to play a doctor in this movie. You learn things about being a doctor – obviously you’re not skilled enough to perform surgery on someone – but it’s your job to, sort of know how to do it. God, that sounds terrifying. But I don’t know… I guess, every once in a while you look around like, ‘Am I doing everything that I wanted to be doing?’ And for me, I absolutely am.
Can you talk about the level of action in this film? I know you got hurt on the set a few weeks ago. Is it a much more physical movie than you’re used to?
SEYFRIED: It’s the most physical movie in the world.
TIMBERLAKE: It’s the most physical movie in the world. Um,
SEYFRIED: It’s kinda, it’s kinda true.
TIMBERLAKE: I…We were trying the other day to figure out if there was a movie where there was more running other than like Run Lola Run, Forrest Gump maybe.
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, he runs when he’s a kid, he runs…I don’t know.
SEYFRIED: That maybe took a half day to shoot.
TIMBERLAKE: It’s just the thing of…that was sometimes, it just happens. But yeah, I dig it. I think it’s a huge part of the movie. Where my character comes from, we don’t have time to walk at a normal pace; we have to move quickly. When you first see my character, I started in this little door and then as soon as I stepped out there were all these extras walking at a pace that looked so uncomfortable. And it’s jarring when you first see it in rehearsal, but when you think about… When I think about the first time I read the script, and what I sort of imagined that – it was exactly how I imagined. And you see everybody walking at a pace that would make New Yorkers look like they were walking with…
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, look like caterpillars. So it’s, it’s definitely, it’s not…I don’t feel like this is an action movie more than it is a thriller, because I feel like the running is a huge character of the movie, because it relates to the time that you don’t have to live. Um, but injuries are just reminders that, again, that you’re not as young as you used to be.
SEYFRIED: Like we’re really sore right now.
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, I know it’s…
SEYFRIED: It sucks. Like my neck hurts and my hamstrings are killing me.
TIMBERLAKE: This is physically the hardest job I’ve ever done, including world tours.
TIMBERLAKE: No way.
SEYFRIED: Dancing. I’d rather be dancing.
TIMBERLAKE: I don’t even dance. I don’t know what I’d call it. I mean, yeah it’s physically…and the funny thing is you train for it; you train to get ready for it. But still, I think it’s the thing of, you know, you take a pro athlete: they warm up for an hour, they play a game for three hours, and then they go ice and they’re done for a week. And they go next Sunday and they do the same thing. And we’re on set for 10 hours, 12 hours and ten of those some days we’re running.
SEYFRIED: Yeah, he got to seventeen miles an hour with his calf injury, I just want to say.
Not to get way too far ahead of ourselves, but if this is a thing is a huge success, you know they are going to want to make another one. How ready are you to run some more?
SEYFRIED: No, there will be no more running.
TIMBERLAKE: I don’t know what they would call it “Now – Again?”
SEYFRIED: “Now, Now Though,” “No, Really Now.” “Now Harder.” “Right Now.”
TIMBERLAKE: “Now with a Vengence.”
TIMBERLAKE: Oh, a prequel! Oh, now you’re getting crazy!
Is the prospect of doing more, even though you’re still in the middle of this intriguing to you, following up with the characters?
TIMBERLAKE: I wouldn’t even be able to think that far. Like I said, we’re in the middle of it right now, so I don’t know…
SEYFRIED: Sequels are weird in general, like you always try to create in your… I always think what happens next, when I do a movie. Like, when I read a script, what happens next? I always imagine and it’s like really difficult because it’s a beginning, a middle and an end. And you don’t want to… who cares?
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, I haven’t thought about it before. That’s not my job.
What do you look for in a role when you’re picking a role? Both of have done very diverse things whether it be Mean Girls and Red Riding Hood or Alpha Dog and The Social Network. It seems like they’re very diverse, what do you look for, what draws you to a role.
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, I mean you want to try… I think, you sort of see things in yourself in the character and see things that maybe you feel like you don’t possess or could be better at as a person sometimes. But I think diversity probably does have a lot to do with it. I’d say the number one thing is, do you feel safe in the hands of the director and is the material interesting in a way that moves you? And for me, that’s the basic… And that’s basic rule of thumb, but I don’t find that it’s just for my character. You know, I…of all the movies that you mentioned, I loved the characters. I loved all the characters and they all had such great values to me that I find myself looking at all of them and saying, what’s specific and special about that person and… [In this movie] a big part of it was Amanda’s character and the values that she, her character, gets to have in the second half of the film. Because I think it comes out of… It comes from a different angle. So I found myself really relating to her character as well, in a way. Just those basic humanistic values and…
SEYFRIED: Yeah, the way our characters…
TIMBERLAKE: Good stories, Good directors, I don’t know, it’s pretty simple.
SEYFRIED: But the way all the characters relate to each other too, has to make sense. It has to be intriguing, like you know, it has to be realistic and…
TIMBERLAKE: For this movie specifically, I had just never seen, you know, I hadn’t seen material like this. And it was done in such a way… Andrew writes and directs with such care. I think, really, at the end of the day, what pushed me to where we are right here was really Andrew: To hear his take on the movie, and to hear his passion, and where he comes from, and what it meant to him, and what was beautiful about it to him. It just felt really inspiring. And that’s contagious, you know. That overwhelming inspiration, when you see it someone, you’re like, oh man, I’m not going to regret this experience because it’s going to be filled with care and unbelievable amount of energy.
The physical grueling nature of the shoot aside, I mean, you had certainly have the biggest action beats that you’ve done and you know you’ve circled other action movies before, but did you have an action star moment, both of you, that just was really cool?
TIMBERLAKE: I don’t think so, not yet. You know to be honest, I don’t know if you have yet, but to honest, it’s such an interesting… what an amazing choice and it’s such an interesting juxtaposition to have Roger Deakins shooting this movie, because he shoots such simple, beautiful compositions that…you know, what I have seen – I don’t really watch playback – but what I’ve seen of, for instance like a truck crashing into…I don’t know did they shoot that today? You guys saw that today? I mean I don’t feel like he’s shooting it like an action movie. He’s bringing something so interesting and beautiful that it makes me feel like it’s more a thriller and a drama. More than an action film.
SEYFRIED: Yeah, but carrying that gun and shooting it.
TIMBERLAKE: It’s fun.
SEYFRIED: It’s really fun.
TIMBERLAKE: It’s fun to shoot guns.
SEYFRIED: I…Actually, one of favorite days was when I shot [spoiler removed]. And I just …I just tried to shoot at him. Remember?
SEYFRIED: Like, I pointed my gun – well there’s nobody there actually, just in case – But I was trying to shoot in their direction. And it was really cool because it was one-handed. And it was powerful, but it was blank. So it wasn’t dangerous. It’s just like my dream to shoot things with no consequences.
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. It’s pretty cool, yeah
Your relationship in the movie seems to be pretty complex from where it starts to where it gets to. How did you guys go about developing chemistry? I mean was it just in rehearsal. Did you hang out?
SEYFRIED: We dated.
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, yeah, yeah
SEYFRIED: We started dating the first day of rehearsal. Bought a house together…
TIMBERLAKE: I don’t know. We just talked about the…I think what helps is, the kidnapping is such a huge vessel for how you could be sort of thrust into a high energy or a high consequence situation with someone else. And I think, you know, that when we actually do discover that we are so similar, our characters are so similar to each other, and that we couldn’t come from world’s further apart, I think – in sort of our talking about it – that felt like a great vessel to develop a genuine love for each other’s characters. It’s kind of interesting you brought up Alpha Dog, there’s four actors in this film that were in Alpha Dog.
SEYFRIED: Olivia [Wilde], Vincent [Kartheiser], me and you.
It seems to be a pretty subversive movie in the way it points out to social inequalities. I’m wondering if it was something you were very aware of in real life and if it was a big part in you’re choosing this project?
TIMBERLAKE: When I first read this movie, I was talking to one of my friends and I said, yeah, I think I’m going to do this movie. It’s interesting – everything you just said – it’s an interesting subversive piece that kind of mirrors in a way our economical situation today, how things can become so split up and…
TIMBERLAKE: Yeah, polarized. Subject to upper and lower class society.
SEYFRIED: It’s not so black and white though.
TIMBERLAKE: I don’t want you to walk away thinking this movie is trying to preach that, because it’s not. Um, but I definitely… it hit me when I was in the middle of reading it. The other thing about this movie that is so interesting is that it just goes from moment to moment to moment. Like the actual film doesn’t happen in a long period of time.
TIMBERLAKE: It happens in a short period of time and so there’s so much of it that goes moment to moment to moment, and I thought that was so appropriate because it is about how time is constantly slipping away.
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