500 Days of Summer is a refreshing and realistic breakdown of a romantic tale that isn’t an ordinary love story we’re used to seeing. The Fox Searchlight comedy takes you through a twisted journey that’s unpredictable, exhilarating and incredibly relatable. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) believes in true love and thinks Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the one for him, but when she tells him she doesn’t want anything more than something casual and breaks up with Tom, he’s crushed. The story is only told through his point of view and flashes through the 500 days they had together. ComingSoon.net talked to Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt about the Marc Webb-directed film:
Q: What was it to work again together after all these years (note: Manic (2001)), and did you keep up with each other in between?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah.
Zooey Deschanel: Yeah. We’ve been friends for ten years. It was awesome to get to work with Joe again.
Gordon-Levitt: I think it’s a big part of why the scenes turned out.
Deschanel: I agree.
Gordon-Levitt: We trust each other. I know her sense of humor. It made it easy.
Deschanel: You’re only as good as the actor you’re working with.
Gordon-Levitt: Yeah. You’re screwed if the other person is…
Deschanel: Yeah. It’s a one hundred percent collaborative [effort]. If you’re doing it by yourself and you’re not paying attention to what’s going on then I don’t know what that is but it’s not my experience of acting.
Q: Zooey, the movie is all told from Joe’s character’s perspective. Was that a challenge for you?
Deschanel: I didn’t really worry about it. It’s a very, very subjective film. I just tried to play the scenes as truthfully as possible. I had to keep her grounded in my reality of her which was different from the reality of the film so that was my job to protect her integrity as a character.
Q: The movie is from the view of this guy who is deifying this person, so you’re playing a myth.
Q: Do you think your character misleads Tom at all?
Deschanel: This movie is totally subjective so it’s really difficult to say. I’m the lawyer for Summer [laughter]. That’s my job. Seriously, it’s my job to represent her point of view as an actor so it’s hard to look back and give you my opinion on it. It’s a deeply subjective film, not from Summer’s point of view. If this was 500 days of Tom, it would be a totally different film.
Gordon-Levitt: Yeah, and so that wedding scene, where you might have felt it was a little misleading. I think, what that says is that Tom is perhaps misleading himself more than Summer’s misleading him.
Deschanel: Right. Also, I think it’s one of these films where, I’ve seen it three times, and each time you see it you get a different point of view. You see different things in the scenes. That’s one thing that’s cool. Even being in the film and having been there on the day, I’m seeing new things that I didn’t remember, or didn’t know about.
Q: It’s obvious that he’s in love with her from the beginning but what does she feel for him?
Deschanel: I think, it’s not really that important for me to answer that question because I feel like this movie, especially, is something where it’s the audience’s job to take away from it what they want to. If I say anything, as the actor, that would just be my opinion. It’s my job to play the character but I don’t think that my opinion is really that important. You can take what you will from it. But, I do think she has deep affection for him.
Q: Joe, your director Marc Webb said that, of all the actors that came in for the part, you were the most concerned about why they were making this film because it isn’t a typical romantic comedy. How did he convince you to be a part of it?
Gordon-Levitt: When Marc and I spoke, it became really clear that he was interested in telling an honest and genuine story about human beings as opposed to thin plot devices. The movie that I didn’t want to be in was the one where “oh, see, it’s a reversal. The girl’s like the guy and the guy is like the girl and all those rules still apply but is it weird that it’s reversed?” That, I didn’t want to be in. But I did want to be in something where here is one individual. Here is another individual and love is complicated and hilarious and sad and beautiful. That’s more like the conversation that Marc and I had. It was also that I just liked the guy. I wanted to make friends with him. I wanted to make a movie with him.
Q: Joe, can you talk about the dance sequence?
Gordon-Levitt: Yeah, the best morning ever. I loved doing it so much. The movie is, like she was saying, subjective. It’s more about how love feels from one person’s point of view than how it is objectively. So, I’ve been there and I imagine you have to. When you first get to be with this person that you’ve been infatuated with for a long time, when you’re walking home, maybe to an objective passerby, it may just look like you’re waking home with a smile on your face but it feels like the world is dancing with you.
Q: You got to shoot a little separate video too which, I guess, we can see?
Gordon-Levitt: Yeah. Exactly.
Q: Are you both in it?
Gordon-Levitt: It was too tragic that Zooey wasn’t in my dance number.
Deschanel: It was an idea that Marc had while we were shooting that we would do a dance sequence for a promo. He felt like that would be a cool idea and we both loved it and then we didn’t get to do it while we were shooting the film. Then, a number of months ago, we were all together and I think we were like ‘Marc, when’s that dance sequence gonna happen?” I was [saying that] because I was like [pouting voice] “I want to dance too.” And really it was total vanity because I think that dancing is fun. Not because I’m some amazing dancer or something.
Gordon-Levitt: (talking to Zooey) You’re a pretty good dancer though.
Deschanel: Thank you. So are you. So we did it and it was really fun. What was cool was there were no doubles. It was all us and Joe can do an amazing front flip, no seriously.
Gordon-Levitt: No I can’t.
Deschanel: Well, weren’t you doing a back hand-spring?
Gordon-Levitt: A round-off.
Deschanel: You did a round-off and a back handspring.
Gordon-Levitt: You can tap dance.
Deschanel: I did do the splits.
Gordon-Levitt: And the splits. It’s true.
Deschanel: And it was all us which was cool. I’m certainly not gonna get hired on some pro Broadway tour.
Q: So it this going to be like in a trailer for the film?
Deschanel: Not a trailer.
Gordon-Levitt: It’s not for the film. It’s a different story. It’s really just gratuitous dancing.
Q: Is it going to be on funnyordie.com?
Deschanel: It’s not funny.
Gordon-Levitt: It’s going to be on the internet in like a week. It’ll be all over on the internet.
Deschanel: It’s actually a song from my record. We were trying to figure out what song to set it to and I guess Marc was listening to different things and he was like “hey, can we use your song?” and I was like “yeah!” Can’t say no to the guy. He’s so adorable.
Gordon-Levitt: I just kept thinking “what must that be like?” This was a song you wrote yourself and then you recorded it and have played it in concerts and stuff and now we’re doing this whole short little dance to it.
Deschanel: That was the coolest thing. The coolest thing, let me tell you, was seeing Michael Rooney, the choreographer, who also did the dance sequence in the movie, working down the beats of the song. He’s like “right here, you’re doing this and right here” and I’m like “my song. I wrote that beat.” That was cool!
Q: Joe, you described the type of romantic comedy you didn’t want to be in yet audiences go to those. Is it because they respond to that artificiality or they just aren’t given anything better?
Gordon-Levitt: I don’t know.
Deschanel: They aren’t given something better.
Gordon-Levitt: You want to go see a movie, you go to what’s there I guess.
Deschanel: I think that audiences are smart. I really truly believe that people are smarter than they are given credit for. I think that when you make something that is entertaining and smart, people find it and appreciate it.
Gordon-Levitt: And I think “(500) Days of Summer” does give you the feeling that you’re craving when you go to see a love story. In fact it gives you it stronger because it feels true.
500 Days of Summer opens in theaters on July 17th.