Q: Did you find that the film in a way dealt with a bit of the bullying issue? Did you feel that was part of what filters in here, and that it’s an underlying element of why the characters could be so brutal?

LA: I actually think they’re a pretty good bunch. Events like this happen outside bars and parties and clubs all over the world. Young men get into fights with one another, especially when there’s alcohol involved. In a way, what we tried to do was make it very real, to normalize that. Make it about something small, not build up those intense, dramatic conflicts.

JR: Richard is never in a position where he’s bullying Conor in any way.

LA: We did have this piece in improv which didn’t make it into the film. It was a little bit in the car where he talks about a little boy Richard protected in school.

Q: It’s like in the beginning when Richard is rescuing the young girl from inside the bathroom.

JR: He’s just about harmony and what’s right. That’s his sense of himself. The important thing is, as far as he’s concerned, he’s just a really good guy.

Q: But he veers off the path.

LA: Yeah, he does. The tragedy of his character is that he’s under tremendous pressure. But what attracted me to this character…look at the kid who’s in the middle of the group, who’s the beloved. In other words, we’re so used to seeing the kid on the outside. So take the kid that everybody loves, what’s it like to be him, what’s it like to be under that pressure, what’s it like particularly to love your father desperately, but to know that he’s quite a fragile character, that you want to win for him, you want to be good for him and then you do this thing.

Q: Lenny, can you tell me how you decided to cast Jack in the lead role?

LA: We did a huge stroll for all the people in the film. Jack walked in and I knew immediately. What was really interesting was I think, certainly with a film like this, you can’t take an actor and squeeze them into the role. You have to bring the role also to meet them in the spirit of trying to create as natural as possible of a film. So the character of Richard changed, and Jack himself will tell you, growing up and going through school, he was very aware of what was the right thing to do.

JR: Very much so. What was interesting was, going through the film, I went through a process of change myself where it was like, “Wow, I get what he’s saying here. I don’t need to put this kind of pressure on myself,” and it actually changed me as a person in the real world.

LA: There’s a kind of certainty teenagers have about the things they believe. Most of us growing up have enough rejection and disappointment, whether it’s the people we’ve fallen in love with and reject us, so you come to terms with that. But I think for a character like Richard who everyone loves all the time and is successful all the time, a big question the film asks is how do kids like that deal with failure? Even ordinary failure. That’s the kicker, that’s the spark. Richard lets himself down and he can’t handle it.

Q: Can you take us through the process at the beach house, which I feel is one of the best scenes, when you kind of lose it? What was your journey to get to those emotions at that moment?

LA: I’ll set it up by saying that there was a scene in the script where he wakes up in a panic in the beach house. And that’s all it said really. And he ends up on his hands and knees. I always had this image of him on his hands and knees, kind of breathing. But we never had time to do it justice during the shoot, so we left it and then we went back probably three months later in the middle of the edit and we reshot it and we were able to give it its time.

JR: We didn’t want to rehearse it to any sort of intensity at all, because that would have made it contrived. What we did instead was we figured we’d use this trigger. What it was going to be was, after a couple of extensive conversations about it, we figured that when you wake up, the moment that you wake up, that’s when you’re most conscious of the big things that are happening. So somebody dies in your family, for instance. When you go to sleep and you dream, everything might be OK. But the moment you wake up, everything hits you again, like the cold water. So we have this moment when Richard wakes up, and all the thoughts and all the feelings about what he’s done, how he feels about himself, the shame that he feels, the terror, everything all hits him in one go and there’s nobody else in the room with him to reassure him that it’s going to be OK. He’s literally on his own facing his own demons.

LA: The way we approached it, and it’s certainly the way I tend to approach those types of scenes, it depends on the actor, because some actors have a process, a sort of method process, and I respect that. But I will say there is no difference in authenticity between the method and somebody who, in quotes, “pretends.” Pretending is a great and noble tradition, but it’s physical, it’s a physical approach to a scene like that.

JR: [Spoiler Alert] It wasn’t about “let’s just have a think about what it would be like to kill somebody.” No, that’s not going to work, that’s not going to get us to where we need to be. So we did do it in such a way that he woke up and we physically got into it. And once the voice started to come out, from there, it took on a life of its own and it just becomes this manic screaming.

LA: For Jack to get into that, it actually became very feral and very extreme from just working himself up into that physically.

GALO: So was that a one-take scene?

LA: No. Three takes. We used two cameras. It was really exhausting.

JR: My entire body was hurting in the following days. It’s so violent.

LA: The way we shot it, we deliberately kept the frames a little bit tighter than with containing action. So you feel he’s bursting out of the screen. It’s not something you contain, it’s very visceral.

“What Richard Did” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 22. The film can be currently viewed on video on demand via Tribeca Film and Amazon Instant Video, among others.

Featured image: From left to right: (not pictured) Gavin Drea as Stephen O’Brien, Jack Reynor as Richard Karlsen, Patrick Gibson as Jake Galvin in “What Richard Did” distributed by Tribeca Film. Photo Courtesy of: The Tribeca Film Festival.

Cincopa WordPress plugin