Opening tomorrow in New York City, and next week in Los Angeles, is writer/director Owen Moverman’s first movie The Messenger. The film is about two U.S. Army officers (Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson) who are responsible for notifying families when someone has died while serving our country. Foster plays an officer who has just returned from Iraq and he’s assigned to Harrelson to learn how to do the job. Through these two soldiers, we learn how military families get notified after losing a loved one in war. While the film deals with strong subject matter, I cannot recommend the movie enough. The performances are incredible across the board and it almost feels like a documentary, rather than something scripted.
One of the reasons it feels this way is director Owen Moverman didn’t rehearse the notification scenes. While the actors knew their lines and how the scene would play out, they didn’t practice how to deal with people’s reactions after hearing the news. They had to play each scene in the moment. It’s truly powerful stuff. So to help promote the film, I recently spoke to Ben Foster/Woody Harrelson as well as Samantha Morton and Director Owen Moverman. Both sets of interviews are after the jump:
Here’s the full synopsis before watching:
In his most powerful performance to date, Ben Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. When he finds himself drawn to Olivia (Samantha Morton), to whom he has just delivered the news of her husband’s death, Will’s emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival.
Featuring tour-de-force performances from Foster, Harrelson and Morton, and a brilliant directorial debut by Moverman, THE MESSENGER brings us into the inner lives of these outwardly steely heroes to reveal their fragility with compassion and dignity.
Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson
- I mention how much I loved the film but wanted to know how we can get people to see movies about Iraq and war
- I ask if it’s true they didn’t rehearse the notification scenes and how they affected them as actors.
- I ask about going to Walter Reed Medical Center
- They talk about each other and how much they respect one another
Samantha Morton and Director Owen Moverman
- Why is it that so many people are making important films about the war and what’s going on but people are not embracing the films
- Owen didn’t want to direct the film at first and explains why
- No rehearsal talk