Wander Darkly stars Diego Luna and Sienna Miller and writer-director Tara Miele stopped by the Kia Telluride Supper Suite in Park City, where Collider spoke with the trio about their spiritual relationship drama.
“It’s about a couple who are new parents, and they’re going through a difficult time in their relationship when they get into a pretty brutal car crash. In the aftermath, Adrienne (Miller) finds herself in this state of purgatory and is questioning everything about her life, and Matteo (Luna), her partner, tries to sort out truth from fiction for her, and together they sort of relive the past to see how they’ll navigate their future,” said Miele, who was inspired to tell this story by her own near-death experience.
“My husband and I survived a pretty bad crash about six years ago. We’re fine, totally fine, but I was quite concussed for a bit, and we have two little kids, which also changes your sense of your own mortality,” said the filmmaker. “We were at my Mom’s house for Thanksgiving that year, and the kids are crying, and someone’s fighting about turkey, and I was just like, ‘we’re so lucky.’ I was overwhelmed by this sense of gratitude for the messy little lives we were leading, and I was very desperate to share that feeling.”
Miele funneled those complicated emotions into a screenplay that elicited strong reactions from both her actors.
“When I read the script, I had a pretty intense emotional reaction to it, and I think whenever that happens, you have to look a little deeper at why. It probably means it’s something that I’m gonna want to explore, said Miller, who confessed that she thinks back on her past relationships from time to time, trying to pinpoint what went wrong. “For me personally, the notion of spending the time to go back and reflect, and look at the beats of a relationship that could be minor and insignificant, but where people just go wrong, that really landed in a beautiful way. It was a very moving script, an amazing piece, and I thought Tara did such a wonderful job.” She elaborated later in the interview.
“I’ve definitely hit bumps in relationships, and I’ve definitely, in reflection of those moments, been sad that something wasn’t examined perhaps as deeply as it could’ve been. I’ve never had a significant life-or-death moment that then caused that kind of reflection, thank God, but personally, I do look back, so this suited me.”
Miller said that she and Luna have been friends for a long time and the two have them always wanted to work together, but Wander Darkly “just felt like the right thing.” As for Luna, what drew him to the project was the relationship at the center of Miele’s script, rather than his own character. “I loved the tone and the point of view of the script. I think it is a very smart way to look at a relationship and to look at love, and as an actor, I saw an amazing challenge. It reminded me a little bit of the work you do in theater,” said Luna. “There are these moments in the film that are very theatrical, and I love theater, so it was a great chance to do a film that I haven’t seen, and that doesn’t happen often.”
Reading the reviews, it’s clear that Wander Darkly plays with genre a little bit, veering from light to dark and back again, sometimes within the same scene. Miele offered some insight into her own writing process, and credited her actors for being able to navigate multiple genres.
“When I was writing the script, I just didn’t think about genre at all. I felt like I knew the story so wholly, and I wanted to create something that worked in the way my brain works, which is very rarely in the present, but often sort of in the past, or projecting into the future. And within real life, we have moments of real humor, and moments of horror, and moments of deep drama, and for me, it all happens at the exact same time. And I think that was our biggest challenge on set. Like, ‘there has to be this moment of lightness, but it can’t be ridiculous, and we can’t lose the emotion of the scene.’ Sienna and Diego, thank God, were able to do all these hairpin turns where something is devastating, and then, suddenly, there’s humor. Thank goodness they were able to figure out what it all meant off of the page.”
Miele recently directed episodes of Arrow and Batwoman for the CW, so I asked if she could see herself directing a full-fledged comic book movie anytime soon, given that they’re all the rage these days.
“I quite like doing lots of different things, as long as a project has something that excites me, and is new. Obviously with Wander Darkly, I was like, ‘this is really hard and weird. Let’s try it!’ I really live in that space where, I don’t know if it’s going to work, and I love that space because it’s a really nice ‘big question’ place to be in. So I’m living in that question right now of, ‘what is the next thing?’ So I am writing, I’ll say that much, but I’d love to have big resources to do big stuff on a big stage.”
As for Miller and Luna, they each had specific, albeit very different visions in mind. “I always had a soft spot for Catwoman. That ship has obviously sailed, but Id really love to do that,” said Miller, though I reminded her that at the rate Warner Bros. reboots Batman, that ship could certainly come back around one day. Meanwhile, Luna said he’s “still waiting for the Latin American superhero who drives in a beetle (a Mexican taxi) that flies.” Miller was enthused by the idea, agreeing to co-star as “the gringo psychic.”
Luna will soon return for the second season of Narcos: Mexico, and when I asked him what fans could expect, Miller joked “a lot of blow. Spoiler!” We all had a good laugh, but true Narcos fans know the show is no laughing matter.
“The only thing I can say is that it’s quite scary, because it’s getting really close [to home],” said Luna. “I remember that Mexico. I grew up in that Mexico, and the names you start hearing are still out there. There are so many people walking in the streets these days that should be in jail, making decisions in my country, and hearing those names is quite scary, because it’s getting close,” he admitted. Luna makes for a ferocious drug kingpin on Narcos: Mexico, and given his character on the show, there was really no need for him to star in Universal’s long-gestating remake of Scarface — a project he’s no longer involved with.
He is still set to reprise his Rogue One role and star in a Disney+ series centered around Cassian Andor. “It’s happening. They’re writing at the moment, and it’s pretty cool. It’s gonna be fun, and I’m excited. I can’t wait to go back and look younger.” Does that mean Luna will be digitally de-aged for the series? Star Wars fans will have to wait and see…
I couldn’t let Miller go without asking The Loudest Voice star about her thoughts on Bombshell, as well as the fact that awards voters overlooked her acclaimed turn in last year’s drama American Woman despite rave reviews from critics.
“I thought it was a different take,” Miller said with regard to Bombshell. “I’m a huge fan of those three pretty phenomenal powerhouse women, and it was really interesting because it was so different. Ours obviously had a lot more time to go deeper into [Roger Ailes] specifically, but I liked that there was a film more about the female perspective. They’re both valid and necessary, and I think it’s a good moment to be having those kinds of discussions about those kinds of people.”
As for being snubbed by awards bodies for American Woman, Miller was quick to say she doesn’t blame the Academy. “I don’t think it’s the Oscars necessarily. I think so much rides on when a movie is released, and unfortunately, how much money they have to spend on prints and advertising. And with a small movie like this, I don’t think it should’ve come out in June. It’s sad because that kind of recognition does move the needle in a way that would be useful, but you’ve just gotta keep on truckin’. That’s the spirit, Sienna!
Watch the interview above, and stay tuned to Collider for our Sundance supercut, in which dozens of artists offer their theories on the death of Cliff Booth’s wife in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and which categories they’d like to see added to the Oscars, as well as the TV shows they most recently binged, and the ones they’d love to guest star on. To watch the latest trailer for the new season of Narcos: Mexico, click here.
Finally, we have to thank our presenting partner, the Kia Telluride SUV, which was recently named the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. Additional thanks to support sponsors Glenfiddich Scotch, Peroni Beer, Marbl Toronto, mou footwear, ic! Berlin sunglasses and clothing lines, Laundry by Sheli Segal and Orginal Penguin.