Waiting for Forever tells the story of Will Donner (Tom Sturridge), a charismatic and carefree young man who has chosen not to follow the more traditional path of a career, in favor of the pursuit of the love he has for his childhood best friend, Emma Twist (Rachel Bilson). Will and Emma have not seen each other since they were kids, but that has not lessened his feelings for her, in any way. His quest to reconnect with her has taken him on a journey from city to city, where he always attempts to engage in conversation with her, but becomes paralyzed at the thought. Once the two finally do reunite, what initially seems a bit obsessive soon leads them both down a path of self-realization.
During the film’s press day, co-stars Rachel Bilson and Tom Sturridge talked about this unique love story, relating to their characters, learning to juggle, and the importance of childhood friends who help get you through the tough times. They also talked about their upcoming roles – Tom is in On the Road, opposite Kristen Stewart and Sam Riley, and Rachel just finished the comedy BFF & Baby, opposite Kate Bosworth and Krysten Ritter. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: Tom, what was it about this character that attracted you to the project, besides you picking the script up off of your friend Robert Pattinson’s floor?
TOM STURRIDGE: I don’t know how people are still holding onto this story. It’s not true. I said I was staying with a friend and I read the script, and people just went, “Well, he’s obviously only got one friend, so it must be Rob.” I was just staying with a girl and she happened to have a bunch of scripts, and I read it. I think it was pretty clear that he was a unique character. It was interesting to approach what is potentially a pretty cliched romantic concept – boy, girl, love, film – from this perspective of two relatively damaged people, and potentially mentally complex, with my character. Doing something relatively straight-forward from a relatively un-straight-forward point of view was very interesting.
Rachel, how would you react, if you were really being stalked by someone like Will?
RACHEL BILSON: That’s a hard question. In this case, it’s very innocent. It’s a childhood love and friendship, and I don’t think he means anything harmful by it. Once she realizes that it is innocent, it’s a nice thing, in a way, and not stalkerish at all.
Tom, was that really you doing all of the juggling in the film?
STURRIDGE: It’s only because I had an extraordinarily good teacher, who took me from being a complete idiot into being able to do it. It was cool.
BILSON: I witnessed it. He actually did it.
Are you that adept at it now?
STURRIDGE: No, I literally haven’t touched anything since the moment we wrapped. I hated it. It’s the most frustrating, annoying, painful thing. I will genuinely never juggle again. Fuck juggling!
How long did it take you to shoot this film?
BILSON: It was like six weeks.
BILSON: I don’t think the script changed much.
STURRIDGE: No, there wasn’t a lot of change.
Rachel, being an actress like your character in the film, have you seen people in Hollywood that just get so wrapped up in their career and the fakeness of the town that they don’t know how to handle with the things that happen in their real life?
BILSON: I think people definitely can get caught up. I don’t know how that pertains to their personal life and whether they can deal with things or not, but there’s definitely people that get caught up in Hollywood and maybe get a bit jaded. I’m sure that happens.
Tom, do you feel that your character really did have a mental problem?
STURRIDGE: Mental health is such a complex thing and so difficult to diagnose. What is a mental problem? Who does have mental problems? What’s the difference between mental problems and depression and sadness? He’s definitely different, but I think that’s okay.
Was there anyone that you modeled this character after?
STURRIDGE: To be honest, that’s very similar to the way I talk to women. I was actually trying to talk to Rachel and they just filmed it. No. The thing I was thinking about was that he’s a guy who had an incredibly traumatic experience, when he was a child, and potentially didn’t emotionally develop after that. So, I just wanted to play him as a child.
Have either one of you had childhood friends who stuck with you through some tough stuff?
BILSON: All of my friends, I consider childhood friends because we met when I was probably 13, and I’m still friends with them today. It’s really nice that I have that core group. I’m from here, and they’re all still here.
STURRIDGE: All my friends fucking abandoned me with the tough stuff. When the shit hit the fan, people were gone. No. If they’re a friend, they stick with you through the tough stuff. My core group of friends are all from when I was a kid.
BILSON: I was so lucky and happy to work with Blythe Danner and Richard Jenkins. They’re such kind and amazing people, and also amazing actors. I was really fortunate just to be in their company. They really made me feel close with them. They took on these roles as parents. It was a really nice feeling and connection.
Tom, where did Will get his attraction to wearing pajamas?
STURRIDGE: I think he’s quite a sensuous and sensual person. I think he’s someone who finds beauty in things, but more specifically in his tactile interaction with the world, which is why he moves the way he does, and why he wants to be on top of things and touch them. I think pajamas are just an accentuation of that feeling. It’s the feeling of something soft on the skin.
Your character has no electronic gadgets whatsoever. Is that like you, or do you have some electronic gadgets that you can’t live without?
STURRIDGE: I’ve got a phone.
BILSON: He does know how to use a phone.
STURRIDGE: I would be a slave to it, if lots of people called me. I was with someone the other night and she had to switch her phone off ‘cause she kept waking up when it kept texting. I suddenly realized that I never have to do that ‘cause no one ever texts me.
Tom, do you think that Will is really in love with Emma, or is he just in love with his childhood and his life before his parents died?
STURRIDGE: I think there’s a feeling he gets when he’s close to her, and it’s a feeling that he wants to keep and replicate. I think it’s more about sustaining that sense of safety and pleasure, as opposed to remembering whatever they did.
BILSON: Well, I think it’s a process, and she definitely wasn’t healed, by any means, by the end of the film. But, things happen and sometimes it takes something to happen, for you to wake up. And, it’s not necessarily a romantic love. It’s a pure, genuine love, of sorts. For her, it was just reconnecting with something real and true.
Tom, do you think Will is healed, by reconnecting with Emma again?
STURRIDGE: I think it’s about seeing her happy. At the end of the film, when she smiles, I think he feels done.
How was James Keach, as a director? Did he give you freedom in your roles? Was there a lot of rehearsal?
BILSON: There wasn’t much rehearsal. Tom rehearsed juggling. It was nice because he was an actor.
STURRIDGE: Because he was an actor, it meant that he was empathetic. It’s weird, making a film. You’ve got a difficult scene that you have to do this Tuesday, and you wake up on Tuesday and you know you’ve got to do that scene. And somehow, when you go to bed that night, that scene has got to be done. It’s almost unfathomable, imagining how it could ever be done. Understanding that feeling, as an actor, he was very good at bringing us to a place where it could be done.
Rachel, what was the most difficult scene for you to do?
BILSON: There were so many challenging things. The scene with my father was difficult. It was really emotional, to go through that and really feel that, ‘cause I had a connection with Richard Jenkins.
Did it help to have Blythe Danner there with you?
BILSON: Absolutely, yeah. She’s definitely a maternal figure.
Tom, what was the most difficult scene for you?
STURRIDGE: The emotional stuff with my brother. But, at the same time, in a weird way, it’s much clearer when it says in the script, “He breaks down.” You either break down, or you don’t break down and, at the end of it, you know whether you’ve done it or not. What’s harder is actually just honestly interacting with another person in a scene where you’re having a relatively banal conversation.
Did you have to stay in that emotional frame of mind during the whole shoot, or did you guys get to laugh at all?
STURRIDGE: It’s totally different, at different times. I don’t have a set way of preparing for something. You just have to take it seriously.
BILSON: We laughed a lot, when we weren’t filming. I can get into a character, but it’s easier for me to transition quickly. I like to step away from it, so that when you go to it, it’s still new and you can explore it more.
BILSON: I worked with the costume designer and played it off of girls that move to L.A. to act, but come from Pittsburgh or wherever, and we found a fine line that wouldn’t necessarily be what I wear, but that was the idea.
What are you hoping audiences take away from this film?
STURRIDGE: I don’t know. It’s always dangerous to prescribe an idea on other people. I think people’s interactions with art are their own, and will be far more interesting and sophisticated than anything that I could come up with. I hope they like it.
BILSON: Exactly. It’s hard to say what to take away from it. That’s your own interpretation.
Tom, what’s next for you?
STURRIDGE: I just finished doing On the Road. And then, I’m going to go back to London, where I’m doing a play at the Royal Court, called Wastwater.
How was the experience of making On the Road?
STURRIDGE: It was extraordinary, just taking on that seminal book, and doing it with Walter Salles, who is one of the best 50 directors alive, in my mind. I’ll give you the full list, if you want. It was incredibly intense and long. We shot for six months. It’s quite unusual for a film that doesn’t have car explosions and stunt set pieces to shoot for such a long time. We genuinely spent six months doing scenes, every day. That sounds stupid, but in most films that take six months, you’re actually spending four weeks to do a fight scene. It was amazing.
Rachel, what do you have coming up?
BILSON: I actually finished a film recently, called BFF & Baby, which is a female-driven comedy that was written by Krysten Ritter and Kat Coiro, who directed it. And, Kate Bosworth is in it as well. It’s a really fun movie. It’s funny. It’s the female version of Judd Apatow.
Who has the baby?
BILSON: Krysten Ritter’s character.