WCP: All three of the main actors in the film—James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart—all play very different characters from what they are traditionally cast as. What role did you play as a director in shaping their characters?
JS: First of all, remember that they’re very good actors. And in many ways, eager to do something new. Kristen, at the time, had only done the first Twilight film and no one had seen it yet when she came down to New Orleans to work on this new film. She was still relatively new to playing Bella Swan. But you know, Kristen’s a young, very hardworking actress who’s trying to experiment and try new things.
And James was eager to get past his 10 years of Tony Soprano and shed that skin by playing someone completely unlike anyone he had played before. Same goes for Melissa. In terms of the experience, we were all venturing into an unknown territory.
That really helps, because you get fresh ideas, bolder performances.
For Jake's full interview where he talks about what attracted him to WTTR and why he chose to set the film in New Orleans visit washingtoncitypaper!