At the premiere of Sunlight Jr. at Tribeca Film Festival 2013 we met the director Laurie Collyer, and Norman Reedus, one of the lead actors. Sunlight Jr. tells the love story of troubled and poor Florida residents Melissa (Naomi Watts) and Richie (Matt Dillon) who have to deal with unexpected pregnancy in the ruins of the American dream. The indie drama is set in sunny Florida and also stars Tess Harper and William Haze.
Laurie, was it challenging for you to both write and direct this movie?
Laurie Collyer: Was it challenging? It’s the most awesome job in the world, I’m privileged.
In Sherrybaby you wrap the story around a heroin-addict mom that just got released from prison, now you tell us about a couple living on the edge of poverty, how did you got interested to shoot movies about the lower class Americans?
LC: I really don’t know the answer of this question, I was actually thinking about it in the cab ride over. Because that’s the thing – if you’re an artist and you have vision it’s not because you’ve analyzed yourself. If you ask my friends they may be able to answer.
So how did you get with the idea about Sunlight Jr.?
LC: I was inspired by the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, and for a long time I thought I would make a documentary. Then I woke up one day and I was like “Oh, actually you’re a writer, Laurie”, you can write that story.
Do you see yourself writing a book in the future?
LC: Yeah, I would love to write a novel, but I will think about what when I’m old.
Norman, how did you get into this movie?
Norman Reedus: Laurie contacted me and I had coffee with her in Little Italy and she had this punk-rock t-shirt on and she was just super cool and we had similar taste and I went “hell yeah”.
Can you tell something more about your personage?
NR: I’m a total jerk. I’m the worst. You get to work with Naomi Watts, Matt Dillon, such high-caliber actors and I was just a jerk.
Was it easy to play a jerk or it was difficult?
NR: It wasn’t that hard. What was hard was apologizing for what I was doing: “Sorry Naomi for what I did today, I’m sorry for what I’m gonna do to you tomorrow”, you know what I mean, it was a lot of that.
What did you like about the script?
NR: It’s just real. I like real scripts. It’s a tragedy what happens but it’s life and it’s very much a slice of real life.
What do you admire about Laurie, the director?
NR: She’s got this quality about her that really let you know that she trusts you so you try really hard to do the job right.