RTÉ Ten spoke to Anton Corbijn recently about what attracted him to Life, the biggest challenge in shooting the movie and more. Check out some excerpts from the interview below………
Was the story of a young man trying to find his way in the world – taking you back perhaps to your own early days as a photographer – a major part of the attraction of making Life?
Anton Corbijn: Absolutely. The producer had come to me at some point, saying, ‘There’s a film about James Dean…’ And I said, ‘I’m not interested’. Months later they came back to me and said, ‘Maybe you should read it – it’s really a different kind of story than we actually said to you’. So I read it, and yes, that’s what pulled me in: the relationship between a photographer and his subject matter. That subject matter happens to be in the public eye and happens to be James Dean. I could relate to the idea of photographing somebody in the public eye.
What the film does very well is show that some of the great moments in our lives are just down to luck.
Yes. The film doesn’t have that big a message; it’s really how life is and how you can be touched by meeting people, how things develop from that. That’s it, really.
Before you started filming Life, was there one thing that you thought would be the biggest challenge? Did it turn out to be the biggest challenge, or did something else take its place?
I think the biggest challenge, really, was to get James Dean right. [With] Dennis Stock you could take a lot of liberty because he’s not really on the horizon of most people’s perception of photographers. James Dean is such an iconic person; he’s so alive in a lot of people’s minds that you really had to be very precise. That’s difficult to get an actor to convince you that you’re looking at this person, and I always felt that Dane DeHaan is that kind of actor. Very quickly you believe he’s the heart and soul of that character.
The first time you had Robert and Dane read together could you feel the electricity straight away?
They’re very different actors, you know? They come in very different ways to the set or to rehearsals. That made me feel really great because they are very different characters in the film. Dane is very prepared – he prepared for months – Rob seems to be less prepared but then on set he really delivers. But in rehearsals he sort of takes it in. He’s very intuitive in his approach and it worked really well, whereas Dane is much more studied.
How long did Life take to shoot?
Only 28 days. It was the shortest film I’ve ever done in that sense, and it was very tough. We had the coldest winter in 30 years in Toronto and some scenes were minus 28 to minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Read The FULL Interview over at RTÉ Ten