Monday 22 January 2018

Payne: I chose Dern for his hair

Alexander Payne chose Bruce Dern to star in Nebraska
Alexander Payne chose Bruce Dern to star in Nebraska

Nebraska director Alexander Payne has joked that he cast Bruce Dern because of his hair.

The 77-year-old actor was nominated for a best actor Oscar, and won several other awards, for his performance as elderly father Woody Grant in the drama.

"If nothing else, I cast for him for his hair. He's still handsome but without too much trouble: he looks like an old prairie dog," he said.

"So (I cast him because of) his looks and I knew him a little bit. I knew he could be ornery and sarcastic, but even if it's crusted over, you can sense tenderness in him - that quality."

Alexander added: "It just came to me. It's like looking for radio signals from outer space. I thought, 'Oh, that could be interesting'. It's not just because I knew his daughter (Laura Dern)."

The Descendants filmmaker revealed that Bruce was his only choice.

"When we met about the role, I asked him to read just one line. It wasn't an audition; it was just to help me out as I began to think about it. And he read one page of dialogue and the casting director and I were like, 'A-ha! We were right!' He was just the right guy," he said.

"There was no second choice. That was an exceedingly difficult part to cast. The only other people I could think about for that part are dead actors. I can't think of anyone alive right now."

Alexander joked that the film was shot in black and white because it was cheaper. "As a filmmaker, as a film buff, I always wanted to make a black and white film. Black and white is king. It's so beautiful. But somehow in this story, it came to me that it should be in black and white and I knew it would be cheap enough to do."

Nebraska is out on DVD now.

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