From writer/director Keith Behrman, the indie drama Giant Little Ones is a heartfelt coming-of-age story that follows Franky Winter (Josh Wiggins), a teenager whose own journey of self-discovery helps him to understand what it means to love without labels. When an unexpected incident occurs between the 17-year-old and his best friend Ballas (Darren Mann), his life is turned upside down in a way that forces him to look at his relationships with his family and friends, and to re-evaluate what matters most.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor Kyle MacLachlan (who plays Franky’s understanding and compassionate father, whose decision to come out led to the break-up of his marriage) talked about why Giant Little Ones appealed to him, what he enjoyed about playing this character, and getting to explore this father/son dynamic. He also talked about making a 35-minute short film for director Luca Guadagnino, how he feels about the new Dune adaptation from Denis Villeneuve, his collaborative relationship with filmmaker David Lynch, and what he’s working on now.
KYLE MacLACHLAN: Thank you very much for the vote of confidence and the support. I appreciate it.
This was the first project that you did, after you finished Twin Peaks, but was it the first script that you had read, or had you read a bunch of other things, before landing on this one?
MacLACHLAN: This was pretty shortly after. There were other things that I was looking at, but this one was such a beautiful script and such an important story that I thought should be told. I loved the way the father interacted with his son and his family, even with the challenges of what was going on. I felt like it was a great portrayal of the father side of parenting. I liked that aspect of it. I think Keith [Behrman] is a really great filmmaker. He’s a little bit unknown, but I thought that he had such a delicate touch and such a truth about him that I recognized. It felt like the right thing to do, more than anything.
I love this film and I especially love your character in the film because who doesn’t want their parent to tell them that they should just be able to love who they love, and that they’re proud of them. It seems so simple, and yet it really is such a beautiful statement to make. What was it like to play a parent who’s just a good, understanding guy that clearly loves his kids?
MacLACHLAN: I think all parents strive for some version of that with their children. I’m old and maybe a little naïve, but it’s something that I think is essential. You’ve been entrusted with the lives of your children, so parenting is not something you should take lightly. It’s a full-time job, and we’re here to guide and to help. That’s the way I look at it and my opinion, but you’re supposed to guide and help and encourage. It’s not discipline so much as it’s just trying to understand, and help them understand, why one choice may be better than the other. It’s more of a nudging, as opposed to a pushing and shoving into something. I’m taking my lessons from my father. He was a little more gentle in his approach. When it looked like I was heading into the acting profession, he was like, “Okay.” He recognized that it was something I loved and that I was actually good at. You always want the best for your kids. You want them to be able to support themselves and be in situations where they can thrive. He felt like that was happening with me, so I took that as my lesson. Then, along comes a role where that’s also part of the dad’s makeup, so it worked.
What did you most enjoy about exploring this father/son dynamic, and having an actor like Josh Wiggins to work with?
MacLACHLAN: That dynamic is very common, at that particular age. I remember being that age with my father, and really feeling like I knew more than he did. We all do. He didn’t really understand what I was going through. His opinions and advice was not really gonna be helpful to me. But now, I have a 10-year-old and I know that day is gonna come when he is gonna feel the same way. Hopefully, I’ll be as gracious, understanding and present as my dad was, and just recognize that it’s a necessary phase that kids go through, as they’re trying to establish their own identity. You have to be there, in case the pendulum swings too far one way or the other, just to be able to bring it back a little bit. We also need to recognize that the biggest influence we can have on kids is just how we live our lives as parents. Kids absorb everything. They watch everything and they feel everything, so the examples that we set, as people and as parents, probably has the most impact on them, as opposed to words.
How did you end up in a 35-minute short film for Luca Guadagnino, the director of Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria? It sounds unbelievably cool, but also really strange, so how did that happen?
MacLACHLAN: I don’t know. It is weird. I actually met Luca at the film festival in Toronto. We have a mutual friend who introduced us, and he was evidently a big fan of David Lynch and of mine, so we had a wonderful conversation. It was one of those, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great to work together, some day,” things that you always say. I just wanted him to know that I respected him, as a filmmaker, so much. Then, it turned out that he decided he was gonna do a little short film, financed by Valentino, with a friend of his, who is the creative director now, Pierpaolo [Piccioli]. It turns out that they’ve been friends for many, many years, and they’d been cooking up this idea for awhile. They had Julianne Moore attached and involved, and I knew Julianne a little bit. And then, he just called saying, “Kyle, come and work on this movie in Rome.” I was like, “That sounds great, and would actually work out perfectly.” So, it just started like that. That’s how it came to be, and it was an unusual experience. It was very interesting. It was very, very not a lot of frills. We ended up shooting in a monastery, not too far from the Coliseum, which was an extraordinary location, because somebody that Luca knew was the Monsignor and they said, “Yeah, come shoot here. You can use this and do this.” A lot of the Friars were there because it turns out that a lot of them are big movie buffs, since they’ve got some time on their hands. So, we shot there, and we ended up having a really lovely time.