Tribeca: Maisie Williams & Jason Sudeikis Talk The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Jason Sudeikis (We’re the Millers, Horrible Bosses) and Maisie Williams (“Game of Thrones,” “Doctor Who”) star in the Tribeca Film Festival premiere The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a New Orleans-set dramedy that’s equal parts whimsey and tragedy. The story concerns an uptight architect named Henry (Jason Sudeikis) whose free-spirited/pregnant wife Penny (Jessica Biel) dies in a car accident. Grieving, Henry meets a streetwise homeless girl named Millie (Maisie Williams) and together they decide to build a raft out of trash to sail across the Atlantic.
We had the chance to sit down with Sudeikis and Williams to discuss the film, its themes of loss and redemption, as well as Alexander Payne’s Downsizing and the potential sequel Pacific Rim 2.
ComingSoon.net: So everybody knows that indie films that debut at Tribeca pay the most money.
Jason Sudeikis: Yeah, that’s right, salary wise.
CS: So besides your fat eight figure paychecks, what drew you to this project?
Sudeikis: The script, the story, yeah, yeah. Hands down, and more so that than even the opportunity to get to do it, because at some point, some people make the choice, “Oh, I want to do something different.” But I personally haven’t felt that. And I don’t begrudge someone from doing it that way and making choices based on that decision. But for me, the decision was 100 percent about empathizing with Henry and feeling some form of connection with him in a way that I was flattered that Michelle and Jess and Bill had considered me and thought of me. And this was 2009, so this was prior to even being able to trigger financing for it or whatever else the hell I bring to it behind the scenes. You know, that, I don’t know very well at this point. But yeah, so for me, it was the story.
Maisie Williams: Yeah, I guess the story, but also just how in such a short space and time, you can go from laughing and being so happy to being so sad. And like, when I’m on my own and I read scripts, I can let all my emotions out and laugh out loud and cry when you’ve got a film that can do both and do both so well so early on. Because the script changed a lot from when I read it, you read it first.
Williams: I read it for the first time a year before we started shooting, and there were different sort of tones and fine tuning. By the end, it wasn’t even like, this is better than that, it was just a different sort of movie. It still definitely had that light and dark to it that just draws me to a lot of films. I like making films that I like watching, selfishly, although that’s something that I’m always looking for in plot points and stuff, so yeah.
CS: It’s interesting you mention latching onto the light and the dark. Millie herself is a very strong character, and also a very tragic character in a lot of ways. When you were playing her, did you lean into the tragedy or did you lean into the strength?
Williams: Well, I definitely feel like I lent into the strength because she’s like, sucked it back for so long and she hasn’t really allowed herself the time in recent years to get upset about much. And it’s not until she comes to this realization that Henry isn’t afraid to say, “Yeah, I’m hurting,” and realizes that that’s not actually like a sign of weakness, that she kind of lets that out a lot more. And yeah, but I don’t really feel like I played her in any specific way because you look at someone’s life and you think, “Oh gosh, they’re like, such a hero, or they’ve struggled so much or they’ve had it so easy.” And that regardless of how other people perceive you, you always perceive yourself in a certain way, and it’s usually very different to the way that other people see you. And so, I guess it was more like that, that to the audience, she seems like a very tough cookie, but for herself, she’s just Millie.
CS: Both this movie and “Demolition,” which has just come out… Did you guys see that?
Sudeikis: I didn’t see that, no.
CS: Both “Demolition” and “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” deal with men in grief behaving erratically. Do you think there’s kind of an unspoken social contract about sort of how we’re supposed to process grief? And then when we void that contract, it makes the people around us uncomfortable?
Sudeikis: As human beings? I think so, yeah. People grieve in very, very different ways, yeah, for sure, yeah. I haven’t thought about it, but it makes sense, that at the same time, that’s definitely one of the elements of the story.
Williams: I feel like the people around you have every right to be, like Julia and everyone has every right to be worried about you at that moment, because a person is very, very vulnerable when they’ve experienced something very traumatic. They have every right to be concerned, but I think you very much have to keep an eye, and you have to like, kind of just let the reigns out a little bit and let people go through that and come out the other side of grief and figure out how to be happy again. But you definitely have to keep an eye on people, but let them do that. Of course you would be concerned, seeing someone’s life turned totally upside down, and then they start making really irrational decisions, you would be really scared. But I think it’s just how we are as humans, and very, very important to just accept that and let people get on with it and then come back again.
Sudeikis: It happens with, I mean, love as well. I mean, we probably all had a friend that stayed with someone that you’re kind of like, “I don’t know about that guy or gal.” And you can’t say anything.
Williams: But then, find out for themselves.
Sudeikis: If you start to fuse them together, like Romeo and Juliet-style, if you’re too insistent about, “No, they’re the wrong one, trust me.” And it’s like, “Are you in love with them?” You’re going through all of that.
Williams: At my age as well, I see it a lot with my friends and their parents and stuff and people that are dating. And my mom was very much like, “Why are you dating this guy?” But with my sister it was just like, “Okay.” And then, she ran off, came back and was like, “Okay. You weren’t the right guy for me.” But that’s really important for people to find out for themselves because no matter how much someone tells you something, you will never believe it until it happens to you. And yeah, that is so important in life.
CS: I got really excited last year because I’m a huge “Pacific Rim” fan, and I know that Guillermo tweeted that he wants to put you in a Jaeger.
Williams: Right. (Laughs)
CS: Is that still on the table?
Sudeikis: What’s a Jaeger?
CS: It’s a giant robot.
Sudeikis: Oh great.
CS: It’s not alcohol.
Sudeikis: Oh, my buddy Charlie’s in that. That’s Charlie Day’s movie.
CS: Yes, he’s great in it.
Williams: So we got an email from Guillermo and he wanted to meet me, which is really, really cool, but I always feel like when I meet a lot of male directors, they kind of like, just want to sit and be like, “Have you seen this movie?” And before I’ve even been like, “No,” they’re like, “Oh no, you haven’t seen it.” And sort of a bit of like a total film buff, which is cool, but kind of just talking at you, and like I need to learn from this, and kind of feeling like really deflated by the end of it. And so, I was absolutely flattered and so excited, but also just kind of like, “Oh, is this going to be another one of those kind of meetings?” And it wasn’t. It was the nicest meeting I’ve ever been to, and he genuinely was just like, “How did you get here? Where are you from and do your parents act and what happened here?” And I was like, “Fair enough. That was cool.” And so, we just sat and chatted while he was doing press in London for “Crimson Peak.” And yeah, he was just the coolest guy, and then I went home and then he did that sick tweet, and I was like, “Yeah.” (Laughs) So full circle from being like, “Oh, this guy is going to be so scary,” to being like, “He is the coolest guy ever.”
CS: To offer you a job in front of the world.
Sudeikis: I know.
Williams: You can’t go back on it now.
CS: Is it still in play?
Williams: Well, he was always just saying like, “If and when ‘Pacific Rim 2’ happens.” So that’s a totally out of my control really.
Sudeikis: So I still get a shot?
Williams: You do.
Sudeikis: Yeah, yeah.
Williams: What, at playing my character?
Williams: Sure. You can try.
CS: Well, speaking of characters, I’ve been hearing about “Downsizing” for a long, long time. I think Alexander announced it after he did “Sideways.”
Sudeikis: Possibly, yeah.
CS: And I guess what can you tell me about your character in that? Are you big Jason or little Jason, what are you?
Sudeikis: I play Matt Damon’s brother. But I haven’t read it in a while. I have to re-read it. A new draft was just recently sent to me.
CS: So you haven’t started filming yet?
Sudeikis: No, not yet. They have. I have not.
CS: So your character is just dealing with the after effects of Damon becoming small, and then all of a sudden you’re the literal big brother kind of thing?
Sudeikis: I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say. And I’m really aware of being that out of respect towards the writers. I will say that I like, loved it when I read it. I’ve been a big fan of him for as long as I can remember, him and everything that he’s been a part of, but yeah, I was like, “This is great.” He’s just one of those dudes that can take different genres in that old school way of like, a Billy Wilder and just give it that same thoughtfulness and intention and cleverness regardless of what the content is and what the story is. And I’m excited to just watch him work and hopefully not act myself out of the job.
CS: Yeah, they’re always singular, you’re right. You always feel like it’s his movie.
Sudeikis: Yeah, it’s really neat, and yet, so disparate, you know? “Election,” what is that in comparison to “Sideways”?
CS: Yeah, or “Nebraska” or whatever, yeah.
Sudeikis: I didn’t mean to be coy. I’m just being respectful to him and I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about like, “How do you want me to handle this stuff?”
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea will screen at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival today at 3pm, tomorrow at 6:45pm and Saturday, April 23 at 8pm.