Read our New York press conference interview with ‘Welcome to The Rileys’ director Jake Scott and actors Kristin Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1), James Gandofini and Melissa Leo at the Regency Hotel on October 18. They discussed what it was like to work together on an independent movie in New Orleans, and what attracted them to the script.
Q: What surprised you, Kristen? Where those bruises real?
Kristen Stewart (KS): Yeah, I found that I got the bruises initially in rehearsal. I learned pole dancing, but you never really see that in the movie. It’s just for a second, and it’s in silhouette. It really hurts, and you don’t realize that of course it’s going to show. There were so many, but I wasn’t sure if you keep all of them. I think what surprised me the most was the fact that I was so unaware. I was walking down the street with my robe open and wearing fishnets, and not caring at all. I wasn’t scared. I had known about this for a while before it got up and running, and I’m glad that it took awhile to do so. I felt that I was old enough to do the part. If I wasn’t ready, I would have shied away from it too much. So it was shocking to find myself in situations like that and being completely fine with them.
Q: Kristen, you play a stripper. Can you talk about your preparation for that role?
KS: I went to my first strip club with this guy (points to Jake). Upon entering, the guy said “You have to come back later if you want a job.”
JS: This was in L.A. This was a nude strip club.
KS: He must have thought Jake was my pimp. It started there. You just literally think “I’m the luckiest kid from the valley.” It gave me the impression that the script was whole and real. But what do I know? He was really on me about that. He said “You’ve got to do some work before you’re able to do this.” He gave me a couple books that really helped me, like ‘Raised by Wolves’ was the one that really got me. There were some really candid stories. There was this guy who gave himself to a bunch of runaway kids in Hollywood. They really just let it all out. And you know, just pole-dancing, and stuff like that. But basically, we didn’t have that much time. It was really comfortable. It validated me, it made me feel like I had done enough for the part. But at the same time, everything was in the script. Luckily, when we started shooting, I felt as though I didn’t have to add a thing. It gave it justice. I didn’t have to add anything, it was already there.
Q: Kristen, how was it being the youngest in the cast, and did you ever want Mallory to just give up and let them adopt her?
KS: You watch the movie, and that’s sort of what you want. When I was working, that was a far, far option from what would ever work. She hates herself, but they like her, so maybe their opinions change her.
Q: Kristen, do you have a process of coming out of a role? Especially going from playing Bella in ‘Twilight’ to playing Mallory back to shooting ‘New Moon.’
KS: No. The few movies I have done between the ‘Twilight’ movies have coincidentally been very different. I don’t want to totally shock everyone, but when something speaks to you, you have to do it. Also, I’m really lucky to have my cast in the series. As soon as we get back to set together, it just sort of happens. You always think it’s going to be hard to get back there, but it’s not. We’ve all wanted to tell the story for so long.
Q: Kristen, do you think Mallory would ever change?
KS: Mallory doesn’t think about what happens next. I hope she would continue to dance, but stop working. But I think she would keep doing it, that’s what she knows.
Q: Kristen, you give 100 percent of yourself into your roles. Do you carry Mallory with you?
KS: I think you have that with everything. It’s not just parts you play, it’s experiences, everything you do makes you who you are. Some of the most monumentus moments in my life has been in films. This one, more than normal. I think it had an effect on me.
Q: James, you played Tony Soprano for quite some time. How was it like going from that kind of father to this one? Did he influence Doug at all?
JG: No, he’s done. That went away pretty quickly for me.
Q: Kristen, your character in many ways was a mystery. What did you imagine her back-story was?
KS: Jake had a few ideas. They weren’t so defined, to be honest. It was just enough. There were a few things that he told me when we started the movie. One was that a lot of these girls’ stories are typical. A few things add up to being able to do that as a job. I sort of inserted a few little bits. I know where she’s from, I know that she’s not lying when she tells Doug where she’s from. But to really go into it would be really weird.
Q: Kristen, how does putting on the wardrobe help you get into character?
KS: It always helps. I don’t think a lot when I hear stripper. A lot of people have ideas on how they must be, but I really didn’t have any. I’d always imagined they’d be sexy, because that’s sort of their job. You would never want to take off the trench coat, but living in New Orleans, it’s hot. Everything helps, the makeup.
Q: James, what’s a dream role that you would want?
JG: Curly from ‘The Three Stogies.’
Q: What did you miss about your respective hometowns while filming in New Orleans?
JS: I missed my kids and my wife. Obviously you miss your family. I live in L.A. When you go on a long project like that, these guys are more experienced than I am, you are with a family though. I try to make my life there as much as my home life as possible. I rented a house there with the cameraman. I love to cook, and I had to cook. If you ate in the restaurants in New Orleans every day, you would come back looking very different. You miss some of the routines, actually.
KS: I tend to really offend people when I go, especially on this one. It was the first time I was really alone on a movie. I love stomping around the city, like it was mine, kind of like Mallory. I didn’t really miss much, I was having fun.
JG: I missed my wife and New York food. I had heartburn in New Orleans!
ML: I love working, and this movie was very happy times. My son’s now 23, and there’s no husband to worry about. So I very happily relocate wherever a film brings me.