Richard Gere and Diane Lane interview – NIGHTS IN RODANTHE

     September 26, 2008

Written by Charlie Mihelich

I recently attended the press day for “Nights in Rodanthe”, the latest film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Sparks also wrote the novels “Message in a Bottle”, “A Walk to Remember”, and “The Notebook”, and this film follows his trend of stories about second chances and true love.

Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere) and Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) are two middle-aged people who escape, separately, to the same quaint bed and breakfast in the coastal North Carolina town of Rodanthe. Flanner is a doctor facing a malpractice lawsuit who has forsaken friends and family for his work, and Willis is a recently-separated woman whose deceitful husband (Christopher Meloni) wants to convince her to allow him to come home. What they both find in Rodanthe is a chance to start over and make things right, but they also must face the real world implications of their new romance.

I participated in a press conference with Richard Gere and Diane Lane, and they talked about working together for the third time, how they got involved in the project, and what about the film really clicked for them.

Q: Nice to see you two together again. How does it feel to be reunited again?

Richard Gere: She’s looking at you, so…

Diane Lane: (laughs) Ok, ok…I remember the phone call we had. I was in Toronto, it was January of ’07…

RG: This is going to be a Rashomon, by the way…it will be completely different than mine.

DL: …and you said “So you’re really gonna do this, huh?” and we were both like “Yeah! We’re really going to go for it!” and we had been in all these different situations, but when we finally talked to each other…I mean, how can you be a little pregnant, but we were. I knew we were on the track, but still with a question mark on the end a little bit. I finally got a chance to see “Lackawanna Blues” and was blown away because Richard was so enamored with George C. Wolfe, and that really sealed the deal for me.

RG: It was vaguely like that, but it was a lot more…can I say anything? The script was not perfect, and I remember thinking, “This needs a lot of work”, and we needed to turn it into a film. It didn’t give us space to let anything organic happen. There was no director involved, and I think it was probably meeting George that made me feel ok.

We really believed the chemistry between you guys, and while there was so much of it, it really took off when you were writing each other letters. I don’t know if you recorded the voiceovers at a different time, or how it was different than the rest of the filming, but that was so effective that I wanted to know what that was like.

RG: Well, it’s interesting, because that wasn’t part of the original script. It was an addendum. That came as part of the editing process. The movie actually ended earlier. Not in terms of time, but in terms of our story, that part of it ended earlier. The letters are from the book, and it kept us alive as a couple almost until the end of the movie, which wasn’t part of the original script.

DL: They were conveniently available, too. Hindsight is 20/20

RG: Well the novelist knew that, too. He knew what worked and what didn’t. The original script didn’t feel that that was necessary, but we discovered obviously that they were very necessary, in terms of storytelling.

You had never read the novel prior to making the film?

RG: Prior to making the film? No.

Are you aware of him?

DL: Oh yeah. Very aware.

RG: I wasn’t very aware of him. I’d scene a couple of the films, I mean, I thought “The Notebook” was a terrific film, but I’d never read any of the books.

DL: I want to back up about the letter writing. I love the rebelliousness of snail mail, and I love anything that can arrive with a postage stamp. There’s something about that persons breath and hands on the letter.

RG: It’s time and effort that have to be invested.

DL: You just can’t get that anywhere else.

Do you do much corresponding with anyone via snailmail?

DL: Well, there’s always birthdays. My daughter, who is 15, just had a birthday and getting letters in the mail, her face just lit up.

RG: My 18 year old son is the same way, I mean, when he gets a letter from an old teacher, it’s amazing.

Can you recall your first impressions of each other?

RG: Uh huh.

DL: Oh yeah.

RG: This is new territory. You can go first.

DL: Of course. Well, I was very immature, and I think that manifested itself as coming off age appropriate for 18. I was defensive, and maybe kind of bitchy, a little bit.

RG: Yeah.

DL: Hey, I got the part! No, I mean, I was in “Streets of Fire” and it hadn’t come out yet, and can you imagine, there’s no pressure, you walk in the room and you’re already pissed off. I just walked in and said “Hi! I’m here! Do you like me?”.

RG: I had gone down the worm hole. We were working with Francis Ford Coppola. You had worked with him already.

DL: Earlier that year, basically. I had done “Rumble Fish”. I was mad that I had to audition for this film.

RG: I remember she was an absolute doll, no question about it. I had seen a film that she had done, and she was absolutely adorable and watchable, and there was something very mysterious going on, but she was very self-confident. She acted like she didn’t care, but she really did, which is the sign of a talented film actor.

Can you talk about the love scene? Is it harder to do it when you’re friends? Do you laugh?

DL: Oh yeah, lots of laughing.

RG: Here’s something you don’t know. Those are body doubles (laughs).

DL: You usually shoot these things early in the filming in case something goes wrong. George was so funny on that day because he couldn’t be in the room. He would yell “Go for it, honey! You know what you’re doing!”

“Nights in Rodanthe” opens Friday, September 25th.

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