It’s Sundance time! Vulture will be checking in with the talent from some of the most buzzed-about films making the rounds at this year’s fest — among them Stanley Tucci’s adaptation of late great Dutch director Theo Van Gogh’s Blind Date, which serves as the second in a Van Gogh remake trilogy that kicked off with Steve Buscemi’s excellent Interview, and also marks Tucci’s return to directing after many years away from the scene. Tucci chatted about the project with Vulture before heading out to Park City join the festivities.
So you’re headed to Sundance to promote your adaptation of Theo Van Gogh’s Blind Date. What drew you to the project?
Well, the last film I made, Joe Gould’s Secret, was eight years ago. At that point I didn’t know what kind of movies I wanted to make anymore so I decided to stop doing it altogether.
But then I wanted to start directing again, and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity because it was on a small scale and it was a very unusual project. Steve Buscemi had called me and told me about the trilogy — he had already chosen Interview, and out of the other two films that were left, I preferred this one. I liked the idea that there was this sort of conscious confusion of identities, and I liked that I could explore it in a way where I wouldn’t be beholden to a studio’s idea of this kind of drama, that I could do it in a way that was very dark. But still humorous, we hope.
Since this adaptation was always Van Gogh’s dream, did it feel like there was added pressure to make the film really good?
Oh, yes, if it were just my own film, I wouldn’t even bother trying to make it good! [Laughs.] No, of course you want to be respectful and pay homage, but ultimately you just make the best film you can, and you also have to make your own film. You can use the original film for a while, but then you have to completely forget about it. You can’t look at it again. In that way I think you’re actually much more respectful of the original director.
And you really shot it all in one room?
Yes, we shot the film in seven days, all in one room. It was at once a blessing and a curse. After a while you really have to figure out ways to make the room feel interesting without getting tricky or hokey. But it was so exciting. We would shoot fourteen pages a day! It was definitely grueling, but once you’ve written something, you know it so well that you really save a lot of time. You don’t even have to look at the script.
I’ve heard your co-star Thijs Romer referred to as the Dutch Brad Pitt. True?
He is. He’s a huge star in Holland. I said to the producers, if we can get someone who’s young and handsome and who can act and speak English, we can just cast it over there. And Thijs turned out to be wonderful. He actually dates Katya Schuurman, who was in Theo’s original Interview. It’s a very, very small country.
You were born in New York and still live here. I know you do a lot of theater as well, but was there ever any temptation to pack up for Hollywood?
No. Not at all. Never. No. I have no interest in living in Los Angeles. I have no I just prefer the East Coast. Let’s leave it at that. —Sara Cardace