Quirky comedy (500) Days of Summer is set to be one of the films of the year, and we catch up with stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel
The film, directed by Mark Webb, stars Deschanel (The Happening, Yes Man) as Summer, a young woman who doesn’t believe that true love exists while Gordon-Levitt is Tom, the man who falls under her spell. It’s not the first time the pair have worked together, having stared in Manic back in 2001, and they agree that the fact that they have remained friends ever since helped their performances in (500) Days of Summer.
ZOOEY DESCHANEL We’ve been friends for 10 years. It was awesome to get to work with Joe again
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT We trust each other. I know her sense of humour. It made it easy.
DESCHANEL You’re only as good as the actor you’re working with. 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.
Zooey, your character of Summer is adament she doesn’t want a relationship but is still sleeping with Tom. Are you worried about the ‘friends with benefits’ label?
DESCHANEL How unromantic!
GORDON-LEVITT No. I think that’s a label that kids won’t put on it. I think that sort of categorization is what this movie is evidence that we’re getting over. Love and romance can exist without fitting into solid boxes like that.
Zooey, the movie is all told from Joe’s character’s perspective. Was that harder for you than?
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.
It’s obvious that Tom is in love with Summer from the start, but what do you think she feels about 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.
Joe, director Mark 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 [it’s like] ‘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 it’s it weird that’s 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.
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.
Many are saying that (500) Days of Summer is one of the movies of the year. Did you have a sense on set that it was going to be great?
DESCHANEL I was having so much fun that I wasn’t even thinking about it. It’s really, really rare that you have a movie that you are having such a great time making… I felt like it was magical or something. I don’t want to sound like … but it really was so much fun and I felt like we all connected. It was Marc and Joe and me, everyone that worked on it was really fantastic and just from the beginning, it had this special glow about it. But, I didn’t know whether it would be a hit. You never know. You never know. We still don’t know but I know that’s it’s a film I’m extremely proud of which is so rare and to have a film that was that much fun to make with people that I absolutely love and to be as proud of a film as I am of this one is truly a great gift.
(500) Days of Summer opens in the USA on July 17 and in the UK on September 4
Interview by Judy Sloane