You got in last night, right?
JO: Yeah, we like being here.
PSH: I kinda want to hang out here for a while. I like that it’s overcast, a little chilly out. I’m like into it.
Have you ever been here before?
JO: Once before for three days, I did a reading at Seattle Rep five years ago.
PSH: You do kind of go from one thing to the next. [While we’re here] we’re going to go to one of the recording places…
JO: Where they have the licensing for Fleet Foxes.
I noticed there are a couple Fleet Foxes songs on the soundtrack. Who’s the fan?
PSH: It was kinda Sue Jacobs, the music supervisor. But I heard them in a coffee shop in LA, and they were thumping in stereo, and I was like, What’s that great song? I found out, and that was a year before we made the movie. So when I was editing the film, I was trying to put together the music, and that kept coming back to me. With Sue Jacobs’s help I started listening to more of their stuff. Their stuff’s really big, emotional…you know what I mean? It’s kind of operatic in its emotion, which is how I think this film is, actually. Though the film’s really subtle and kind of simple, the emotion in it is quite large.
It doesn’t even seem fair to call it a romantic comedy. How would you peg it?
PSH: A tale. You know what I mean? A dream tale. Really, kind of a… Somebody wrote something that was absolutely perfect: “a love story that almost forgot to happen.” Meaning, you’re going to watch this story that almost doesn’t tell itself. And that is what the movie’s like. It’s a romantic comedy that forgets that there’s romance and a comedy. That these people are…it’s hard. It’s not a label movie. I would say it’s a throwback in a way to, er, not in the story, but the kind of movie I watched when I was younger. I remember when I would see films like Save the Tiger or these films with my dad that he would recommend from the early ’70s. It does remind me that—even though when I was making it, I wasn’t so conscious of it—I remember watching movies from that time about men or women or people, ordinary people, these kind of simple, beautiful, really heartfelt things. There’s a poetry to them. I really did think of that.
Do you think there’s something special about this love story? Why this story?
JO: You’ve seen so many love stories. It’s this thing that kind of happens all the time. But relatively speaking, I cannot stand—why does something that’s so universal, that happens so many times, why is it only seen in certain ways and told with certain kinds of people? You know? When it’s something that’s so universal! Me playing Clyde in like almost any other movie, I’d be described as a “Puerto Rican guy” a million times. You don’t hear that once [in Jack Goes Boating ].
PSH: No one says that, that’s true. That’s really good.
JO: And I love that. That’s how it should be. I don’t walk around the streets of Seattle proclaiming my Puerto Rican–ness! You know? I love landing here, being calm, taking it in, and people taking me in, and it’s great. That’s how we live life for the most part. This is also everyone in the film and the kinds of people they are. All of us know these kinds of people and these characters, and they’re like not only out there, but they’re the majority of people getting through life, walking down the streets, and they have their own story where they’re the lead protagonist. So that’s why I said this is a story that needs to be told.
And why did you think Philip was the one to direct it? I read somewhere that you kind of encouraged it.
PSH: He did make the first suggestion.
JO: LAByrinth was the theatre company where this all started. We challenge each other to do things we normally don’t do, whether you’re acting and it’s a different kind of role or genre. Phil started directing at LAB, even though he may have always wanted that, for some reason he felt this is the place to do it. I love that. I love challenging each other to do things that are a bit different. So I was like, “You know, you should do it.”
And right away were you like, Yeah! I should direct!
PSH: No, I definitely thought about it. I knew that it’s a big job and I have a lot of respect for the profession of film directing, but in the moment I was like, “Oh yeah, maybe this is the time.” I always thought that maybe—because directing was becoming a bigger and bigger part of my life in the theater, and since I act in film so often—eventually it would bleed over like it did in the theater. So then, I was like, “Yeah, yeah, this is right.” You kind of know this is right. I’m supposed to direct this.