Director Gus Van Sant gets romantic with "Restless"

Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:34pm EDT
 
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Restless," the new film from Oscar-nominated "Milk" director Gus Van Sant tells a simple tale: boy meets girl, girl dies of cancer, boy mourns girl. But in Van Sant's hands, the film is anything but a sentimental four-hankie weeper.

Anchored by strong performances from Mia Wasikowska ("Alice in Wonderland") and newcomer Henry Hopper (son of Dennis Hopper), "Restless" hits theaters on Friday playing more like an intense adolescent romance than a tragedy.

Van Sant, whose credits include "Good Will Hunting," "Drugstore Cowboy," "My Own Private Idaho," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," and "To Die For" spoke to Reuters about making the film and why he hates being photographed.

Q: This definitely has a touch of Romeo and Juliet and doomed young lovers about it. Was that the attraction for you?

A: "Yes, although I never thought of it as doomed love. It's more that her attraction to him is that she's trying to make the most of her last three months, so it's more about them falling in love and having fun until she goes, than wallowing in sadness with her family about the inevitable."

Q: This is Henry Hopper's first film. Were you worried that it was taking quite a risk casting him as the male lead?

A: "When you need an actor to convincingly play 17 (years-old), there aren't that many young stars out there -- just a handful. And there wasn't this big need to cast star names in this. Mia was already established and she was in "Jayne Eyre" and going to star in "Alice in Wonderland," and when I met Henry I knew he was just right for the part and for playing opposite Mia. So it wasn't a huge risk."

Q: Did you know he was Dennis Hopper's son when you met?   Continued...

 
<p>Director Gus Van Sant takes pictures during a photocall for the film "Restless" in competition for the category "Un Certain Regard" at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>