Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey and J.C. Chandor Interview for ‘Margin Call’

By Steve “Frosty” Weintraub

January 30, 2011


While at Sundance, I was able to sit down with Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey and writer/director J.C. Chandor for a quick interview about Margin Call. Premiering at this year’s Festival, Margin Call is a really well done economic thriller that revolves around the key people at an investment bank during the 24-hour period before the recent financial crisis. As the film unfolds, we learn who knew what and when, and what lines are you willing to cross to stay ahead. While it often takes Hollywood years to tell a story about something that just happened, Margin Call has already done it and the results are fantastic.

During the interview, the cast talked about what drew them to the project and what does it mean for each of them to be at Sundance. As usual, you can either read or listen to the interview after the jump.

If you’d like to listen to the interview, click here. Otherwise, the transcript is below. Finally, if you missed my exclusive interview with Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Penn Badgley, Zachary Quinto and Paul Bettany, click here. Margin Call will be released later this year.

Collider: This film has so many great actors involved in the project and it’s dealing with subject matter that is near and dear to many people. This has affected so many people.

Jeremy Irons: I think those two things are related.

Could you talk about how you got involved with the project and what drew you in?

Stanley Tucci: The usual sort of path, which is that you are sent the script by your agent. They say, “It shoots in New York and it’s just this little independent thing.” I am always attracted to them for some reason. I can never get away from it. I probably read it in half an hour or forty minutes. It was so compelling that I couldn’t put it down. It’s not a world that I know or understand, but I thought the characters were so believable that there was a real truth to them. It was without melodrama and without histrionics. It was simple, smart, and restrained. That is not very easy to find. It was all there in the script and I was more than happy to do it. I worked for what? Two days? Three days?

J.C. Chandor: Three days. I shot it quickly on purpose.

Stanley Tucci: He shot it in seventeen days and frankly, as an actor, I like that. You have a really good script, you go in, you don’t make a lot of money, but you’re playing a role that maybe you haven’t played before. It’s challenging and you’re helping somebody also get his first picture off the ground, and they deserve it because the guy wrote a great script.

Jeremy Irons: And it’s a story which I was also fascinated and educated about by reading the script. I cared about it. I thought that it’s quite difficult with that subject to explain it to the laymen and making the laymen and me care about it. I’m an actor and I wanted to play it. By the time I came on board they were almost 3/4’s of the way through with it.

J.C. Chandor: Yeah, certainly by the time by the time he showed up we were. [laughs]

Jeremy Irons: I was only there for three days or two?

J.C. Chandor: Three. It was supposed to be 4, but that visa thing did us in.

Jeremy Irons: I thought, you know, we are in a business which hopefully now and again pulls up an interesting new writer, who is writing something which will explain something that everyone is tearing their hair out at that time. There are still people out there that don’t understand it. It sort of made it explainable. You cared about the people and you understood the people. I thought it felt like everything should be. So I was very happy to come onboard. There was a great bunch of people by the tame I came. They were all in it. There was Stanley and Demi – great actors. It’s wonderful to work like that and to work fast. That’s great.

Stanley Tucci: It’s great working fast.

J.C. Chandor: We shot in one location, which was unbelievable. Frankly, if any young filmmakers are listening, write something that is shootable.

Kevin Spacey: Easy to shoot.

J.C. Chandor: Exactly. That is actually a realistic endeavor. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to get your movie made, but we weren’t asking the actors to give up 3 months of their time. They had shown interest and when you get down to the deal making phase they realize this something where they are going to be spending…we shot 90% of the movie in one building. So we were not moving equipment ever practically, expect from one end of the hallway to the other. These guys, out of twelve hour days, were probably on set next to camera or in front of it eight of those hours.

Kevin Spacey: Yeah, the truth is that on many sort of…we have all done sort of bigger budget films at studios. The most frustrating part about that is that you basically don’t work a lot. You wait a lot to work. You’re lucky if you maybe get, and I’m probably stretching it, eleven minutes of time on film in a day that might be used in the movie. So there is an enormous amount of waiting and actors love to work. If you can, in some way, use the best of theater, which is a little bit of rehearsal and a little bit about your focus on arc. How are we going to tell the story and where are we at this moment? That kind of work is really great in that sort of immediate way. You have to shoot because you are going to lose the light and you have to go. You don’t have a lot of time. There is a certain spark I’ve always felt of imagination and creativity that happens when you don’t have all the time and money in the world to solve those problems because there are always problems everyday.

J.C. Chandor: It can also be an absolute colossal disaster. [laughs] It can be the worst movie you’ve ever seen.

Stanley Tucci: It can be if you don’t have the right people. If you can’t think on your feet, and if you’re not imaginative, which you are. I’ve seen lots of first time directors in the same situation and the same amount of time just fuck it up.

Collider: What does it mean for each of you to be at Sundance?

J.C. Chandor: Have you been here before?

Kevin Spacey: Yeah, I have. A couple of times.

J.C. Chandor: I haven’t. I’ve never stepped foot in the place and it’s a blast.

Kevin Spacey: Usually free clothes. I think for Stanley it’s beer.

Stanley Tucci: The beer is good. I’m not even a beer drinker, but I’m very happy here.

Jeremy Irons: Anywhere I can ski in the morning and sell a movie in the afternoon is good.

J.C. Chandor: Yes, we both skied in the morning. [laughs]