Howdy, y’all! McEric here with a review and interviews for a romantic comedy released today on streaming, On-Demand, and select theaters. THE RIGHT ONE, written and directed by Ken Mok, starring Nick Thune, Cleopatra Coleman, Iliza Schlesinger, and David Koechner.
Check out the trailer:
The synopsis reads “In this heartfelt and hilarious rom-com, Sara, a novelist struggling with writer's block needs inspiration—and finds it when she serendipitously meets Godfrey, a down-on-his-luck oddball who constantly changes personas in order to cope with a traumatic past and avoid reality. Just as Godfrey begins to open up to Sara, he discovers that she’s been using him as inspiration for her next novel, and he vanishes from her life. Did Sara just lose the man of her dreams, or will she be able to find him and make things right?”
I have to give you my honest assessment: I really liked this movie, which is why the aspects that I didn’t like upset me so much. If I thought the movie was garbage I wouldn’t care about its faults, but I didn’t, so I do.
While THE RIGHT ONE offers genuine laughs and lovably charming characters at its heart, the story suffers from significant missteps in its execution. For instance, the opening of the film finds Thune’s Godfrey in his sterile white restroom, devoid of personality, with his meticulously arranged men’s care products lined up on the sink, staring into the reflection of his unkempt beard, teetering on the precipice of a decision. He’s presented to us as a blank slate. However, based on what we learn later in the film, we hearken back to this moment unsure of where it fits in the timeline. Godfrey’s characters seem to be, like his living space, artfully arranged for maximum utility, so did he grow a beard while embodying these persons or did we see the genesis of his cast’s creation? Contemplating it took me out of the film for more of the runtime than I’d prefer.
When Sara slings a guitar on her back towards the start of the second act, everyone knows that she will win him over in the third with a song, speaking his love language of music and fumbling through a swiftly-assembled plea for reconciliation in her unassuming quirkily charming way. A No-Brainer, right? So during the Dark Night of the Soul moment we see our leads walking the streets of Seattle, Sara searching for Godfrey and Godfrey searching for a vortex into which he can disappear. As I suspected, we hear a song that is clearly sung by Cleopatra Coleman, so I”m waiting to see the montage settle on her playing live at any of the dives they’d haunted up until that point in the film, but it doesn’t. It’s just a soundtrack selection and doesn’t exist within the film. The song concludes and we’re shown a failed first attempt at resolution, which adds a second of tension, before she finally does take a stage and bring him out of his stupor with a cover of Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy Breaky Heart.” It’s a callback, sure, but it strikes me as practically devious, triggering memories of his most painful life event. All that he had shown her, through fabricated characters, I’ll grant you, was his truth. His songs were originals, as was his poetry, so it seems a disservice to their relationship that she didn’t rise to that level of offering something authentic of herself, a clear theme of the film.
Then there’s the ending. I just kept staring at the screen waiting for a mid- or post-credits scene to give the film some actual resolution, because the version I watched doesn’t have one. Godfrey SAYS that he can be himself, then we cut to credits. Yes, that is what the story needed, but to end on him merely saying that he’s achieved his growth is inconceivably lazy. An extra five minutes would have sufficed to show us some of this newfound identity at work in the world. We listened to Godfrey talk for ninety minutes while actively avoiding himself, so to give us nothing more than a verbal admission of his success is frustratingly insufficient. “Show, don’t tell.” It’s literally the only rule in cinema. Go to the review board and have a soul-baring admission that he’s ready to do the work towards healing. Go see the kids and have him introduce himself with his full name, maybe even introduce them to his friend, Sara. Fuck, let him hug his brother. Let him forgive himself, his foster parents, Sara. Give his arc a recognizable and believable close and give this film and actual ending.
And don’t get me started on the nonsensical title or that godawful poster. (Don’t, uh… don’t look at that thing.)
You looked at it, didn’t you?
All that said, I really enjoyed what was in this movie, the 85% of it that was made. Thune is a mesmerizing lead, a Renaissance man of multiple talents who shines even in his quiet moments of self-reflection. I can easily see him setting into a career mirroring Bill Murray’s post-comedy work, with offbeat quirk alongside grounded vulnerability. Cleopatra Coleman is effortlessly captivating in her stuttering, babbling earnesty, an odd blend of insecurity in her own skin with a streak of confidence allowing her to relentlessly pursue that which interests her. Her irrefutable campaign to ingratiate herself to Godfrey could come off as lunacy with a more disingenuous character, but we align ourselves with Sara’s quest through her unmistakable likability. Coleman has crafted a character that is easy to fall in love with. My favorite character in the film is undoubtedly Iliza Schlesinger’s Kelly, Sara’s agent and, seemingly, only friend. I’ve always been a fan of her comedy though had yet to see her as an actress, and I love the energy she brings to the screen. She is probably the most gifted character in terms of the script, in that she is given layers that reveal themselves throughout the story at beats that serve the narrative while surprising and delighting the viewer. David Koechner is in this film, too, though criminally underused.
For the performances of its stars and its original story, I would recommend this film to fans of romantic comedies or dramedic character studies, with the caveat of an apology for the lack of ending. I can’t endorse this whole movie, but I can’t dismiss it, either. I felt rewarded with the majority of the viewing experience, and I’d like to see more from the leads and Ken Mok in the future with the hope that the missteps contained herein can be a learning experience for all involved.
I had the opportunity to talk to writer/director Ken Mok, and leads Cleopatra Coleman and Nick Thune. Feel free to check out those interviews below.
Eric McClanahan – Good, uh, morning? Afternoon? Morning?
Ken Mok – Afternoon. Hey, Eric. How are you?
EM – I’m well, how are you?
KM – Good, good.
EM – Wonderful. Sorry, with the time differences I never remember where you or I am.
KM – Where are you at? Texas?
EM – Yes.
KM – Oh, awesome.
EM – So we’re talking about THE RIGHT ONE, a film that you wrote and directed and I saw that originally the title was “Godfrey,” the name of the main character. Where did THE RIGHT ONE come from?
KM – It actually came from Lionsgate [Entertainment]. They saw the movie and they really loved it but they wanted the movie to have, in their opinion, a broader appeal to a Romantic Comedy audience, so they came up with that and that’s how the name got changed from “Godfrey” to THE RIGHT ONE.
EM – That is an interesting observation because the subject matter of the film, it is very funny, very romantic watching Godfrey and Sara come together and sort of pursue one another in their own way, but the undercurrent of the film is incredibly tragic. Where did the idea for this movie come from?
KM – The funny thing about this film, and this relates to the title change, is that I did not intend this film as a romantic comedy. I had actually written it kind of as a drama with some comedic elements. It was a darker movie when I conceived it but it changed once I started shooting it, and I’ll get to that. The idea from it came from a couple of sources. One was, I have this fascination with the late British actor Peter Sellers, who is most known for the PINK PANTHER series and BEING THERE amongst many other movies. If you know his work, Peter was a brilliant mimic; he could play any character from any country. He could play Cockney, Upper Class British, he could play Indian, he could play Southern, Midwestern American, it didn’t matter. He could fully inhabit the role that he was playing. But the interesting thing about Peter was that when he wasn’t playing a role he had no sense of himself. He had no self-identity, so he was literally like this empty cipher that would only come alive when he took on a role. I found that really fascinating about him. It made me think about “what could cause a person to have such a weak sense of self-identity?” I thought it probably has something to do with some sort of emotional trauma that person has experienced, and that led me down a path towards this film, but then what happened was I read this article in the New York Times about this very popular social influencer and she suddenly had quit. The reason why she had quit was she said that everything that she was posting online was fake; that she was doing this very idealized, curated version of herself on all social media and she couldn’t deal with that pressure anymore. That really started making me think about identity in this culture and what’s happening with social media and how social media, in a lot of ways, is corrupting identity, in that all of us now aren’t really representing ourselves in an authentic way. We’re all kind of representing ourselves in a curated, idealistic way, or at least more and more of us are doing that. When I took that idea and married that idea with that of Peter Sellers it naturally led me to this screenplay.
EM – Wow. I picked up on so much of that; very poignant. I watched the Sellers film with Geoffrey Rush [THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS, written by the screenwriting team behind the CAPTAIN AMERICA films and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR & ENDGAME) which was a wonderful exploration of him as a person, or lack thereof. And the social media, you’re absolutely right; we’re putting our best foot forward, it’s like we’re constantly on a date with the rest of the world and we just want to share the best parts of ourselves.
KM – It’s funny you say that because that Geoffrey Rush film was when I first became aware that Sellers was psychologically troubled. That was a brilliant film, it was fascinating, and then I started reading books on Sellers after that and that’s when I realized that movie was very accurate about who Sellers was and his psychological problems with his own identity.
EM – Now how comfortable were you taking the leap from executive producer to, you’ve been behind the camera a couple of times, but to say “You know what? I’m going to write a movie and I’m going to make it.” What switch flipped, I suppose, that made you want to do this?
KM – Well, it didn’t come out of the blue. I have been writing since the start of my career. I started out in the scripted world, and at that time my goal was to write and direct, so I was working at my craft for many, many years. I’ve been at this for twenty-something years, of writing, but there was a long period of time where I wrote a lot of spec screenplays, and I’m brutally honest with myself. When I would look at the work I was doing, I felt that my writing was at a B, B+ level, and I never wanted to go out into the world and try to get a movie made off of a B, B+ script because what’s the point? You don’t want to compete against other B or B+ writers; you want to do a film with A-level material when you’re doing that, and that took me a long, long time to get there. While I was practicing the craft of writing I kind of got sideswept into the world of unscripted when it first started and I had a very particular skillset that I had developed that worked for the unscripted genre very well. Then lo and behold, I had a tremendous amount of success there, so I created a number of shows, I created the show “America’s Next Top Model” and that took up a great bit of time. Then what happened was, after about nine or ten years of doing that, I found myself kind of producing by rote and I was just losing my creative mojo. So I asked myself “What do you want to be doing with this next phase of your career, because you want to be keeping yourself creatively challenged?” So when I really started thinking about I knew that I really wanted to get back to writing and directing. The last four or five years, I’ve really concentrated on my writing. I wrote about four or five different spec scripts in that last four years and I kind of went through this breakthrough in that time where my writing went from that B+ to what I thought was now A-level writing and I know that if I show these projects to people I probably could get some momentum going on it. So that’s what I did: I took the script for THE RIGHT ONE, for “Godfrey,” I got it out there and luckily there were two producers out there, a woman named Jennifer Sanderson and a woman named Geneva Wasserman who just really responded to the writing and said “We’ve got to make this movie. It’s a romantic comedy, it’s great, let’s get this made!” They really helped to get the momentum moving forward on that project.
EM – Viewing the film, I know with character pieces like this, the setting is often an additional character in the story. What was the decision behind placing the story in Seattle?
KM – Godfrey is an artistic personality. He’s a person that likes dabbling, not only in all those different personalities, but all those personalities really are arts-oriented. And Sara herself is a writer, so I really wanted to kind of set it in a city where creativity is embraced. I could’ve done it in New York, in Los Angele, or a number of different places, but I just thought Seattle is a really fun, fresh environment. I love Seattle. It’s a really beautiful city, as well, which is why I ended up putting it there.
EM – Speaking of the artistic nature of Godfrey: singer/songwriter, DJ, art critic… to play that character you had to find someone with a really vast array of artistic talents, and you did that with Nick Thune. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this role. Tell me about getting him for this film.
KM – [laughs] Well, that’s a great question, because the true backstory is that I wrote this script, not for Nick, I wrote it for a very specific actor. I’m not going to tell you who it was, for fear of any sort of embarrassment, but I wrote it for this actor whom I love. So I finished the script and sent it to the actor and he said “I love this script. I’m going to do it.” And I was over the moon. So we moved forward with him on board, and as a result of him I got this other woman to play the lead of Sara, who had a relationship with this actor. I go up and I’m prepping the film and six weeks before we’re about to start principal photography… the actor drops out. As a result, the female lead drops out, so now I have no leads in this film. Luckily, when we had put together our list of people we wanted for this film, I was a big Nick Thune fan and a big Cleopatra Coleman fan so we really scrambled to get them into the movie and get their deals done. Then with two weeks left before we started shooting principal photography I finally got them. It was a really stressful period of time, because I’m sitting here prepping this film, location scouting, and I have no leads. It was really, really… I mean looking back on it I can laugh about it but at that time it was really crazy. When I ended up getting Nick I rushed him up to the location and I just spent an intense amount of time during pre-production asking “What skill set do you have? What can you do?” I essentially rewrote that part for him, with him telling me “I can play the guitar, I write original songs, I can do this, I can do that, that sort of thing…” so I literally rewrote those characters to custom fit Nick’s abilities.
EM – Well that explains why he looks so natural in the role.
KM – Exactly. [laughs]
EM – I got a chance to talk to Cleopatra a couple of days ago about her experience on this film, and again she brings such a vast array of artistic talent to the film with her singer/songwriter background, as well. Watching the film, going into the third act, I thought “she’s gotta write a song” and then a song starts playing while she’s walking around on her Dark Night of the Soul, but then she ends up winning him over with “Achy Breaky Heart,” a callback to his youth. Tell me about your development process for that third act, particularly intertwining the romantic element.
KM – She obviously sings “Achy Breaky Heart” because it’s a trigger for him because that’s the song that he used to sing to his little sister. In a way, that song that she sings is also an apology to him, because she did betray him. Which is something I liked about her character: you as the audience are going along with this woman and you’re thinking she’s this great gal, she’s so curious, she embraces life, so interested in this character, but in the beginning of the third act, or really in the third act, you get a different perspective on her because Kelly confronts her about herself. She says “You know what? You’re not this great person that you think you are. You’re living this inauthentic life and you were really kind of underhanded when you were dealing with Godfrey. You basically used him and tossed him aside.” And that’s really where Sara has to confront herself, right, and really come to terms with who she was and what she did, and luckily Sara has a strong conscience and that’s what she does to make up for the wrong that she did to Godfrey.
EM – I was telling Cleopatra that there’s a brilliance in the performance that she makes Sara so likable when in reality she isn’t. Touching on the character of Kelly, I feel like on the page she had the most dynamic in terms of character, of three-dimensionality. Was Iliza Schlesinger the first person you had in mind for that role?
KM – I actually wrote the role for Iliza, but the funny thing is that character Kelly is based on a friend of mine named Kelly Cutrone. Kelly is a well-known fashion PR agent. She had her own fashion show on MTV about ten years ago called “Kell on Earth,” a reality series. The character of Kelly in the film is exactly my friend Kelly. Like she’s crazy, she’s outrageous, and she’s a Buddhist, and I laugh about that because the scene in the film where Sara’s laughing at Kelly being a Buddhist, I had that same reaction when my friend Kelly told me she was a Buddhist. I was like “You’re literally the worst Buddhist on the planet. You are the opposite of what a Buddhist should be!” [laughs] I remember when I was writing the role I caught Iliza’s stand-up act, my wife was watching her stand-up comedy, and I was just riveted by it. And I said “Oh my God, this person is Kelly!” I just think Iliza is a star; her energy just leaps out at the screen at you. So I wrote the Kelly part, I called her and said “I wrote this for you.” She loved the script, she loved the part, and she came on to the movie and just exceeded my expectations on the film. She’s so talented not only as a performer but she’s incredibly dedicated to her craft. She’s great at improv, so whenever I worked with her, after I got what I needed in the can, we would work together on improving some stuff on the scene, so there’s a lot of stuff that ended up in this movie, a lot of funny, funny lines that came directly from her.
EM – The film is coming out Friday, February 5th. What is something you’d like our readers to know about THE RIGHT ONE? What do you hope they take away from viewing this film?
KM – I think it’s interesting about the timing of this film. It’s coming out near Valentine’s Day and I think it’s the perfect Valentine film. It’s the type of movie you could watch with your girlfriend or your boyfriend, your best friend, your family. It’s a great date night movie, first of all. It’s sweet and it’s funny, but the best thing about this movie is that it’s a feel-good film. Giving what we’ve all gone through this last year in 2020, Good Riddance! I think we all really need a laugh. We all really need to feel good about ourselves, and this is the type of movie I think that when you see it you kind of feel better about humanity in general, you know, and I kind of designed the movie even visually to be one of those that you could watch over and over again, even with the sound off. I just made the color palette, the visuals of the film, were really bright and optimistic and fun and beautiful. I think that if audiences get to find this film, which is really tough with Indie Film even though we’re Lionsgate, it’s kind of hard to get these films to be found; I feel like we’re the Little Film that Could. But I think if people find the film I think they’ll really really enjoy it.
EM – Well, Ken I really enjoyed talking to you today. Thank you for being so forthcoming about your work on this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree that it is a delight to watch; the dance sequence, the club sequence. It does feel good and I can’t wait to see what you do next.
KM – Well thank you very much. I really appreciate you having me on and I really enjoyed talking to you, so next time! Thanks so much. Take care.
Eric McClanahan – Hello!
Cleopatra Coleman – Hi!
EM – How are you today?
CC – I’m great, thanks for asking. How are you?
EM – I’m quite well. I guess it’s morning over there so I can say good morning.
CC – It’s afternoon, actually; I’m on the East Coast.
EM – Oh, okay. I’m central so we’re both in the afternoon. Equal playing field. So thank you for talking to me today. We’re talking about the movie THE RIGHT ONE, and you play Sara in this film. Tell me how you got involved in this picture.
CC – I read the script and I loved it. I’ve never played the lead in a Rom-Com before and I thought “this is the one” so I said yeah.
EM – So, it was THE RIGHT ONE?
CC – It was THE RIGHT ONE! [laughs]
EM – Have you seen the final cut of the film since you wrapped production on it?
CC – I have, yeah.
EM – I’m curious if there’s anything left on the cutting room floor in terms of the ending. It seems very abrupt to me.
CC – Um, well, it was quite a long time ago. No, I think that’s exactly how it was scripted. I think what’s unique about it as that it’s definitely a romantic relationship but also it’s a friendship about two people who have similarities but are obviously on opposite sides of the spectrum with Sara being someone who ultimately doesn’t have much of an identity and doesn’t live any one life and hasn’t done much work on herself, then there’s Godfrey whose someone who has all of this access to all of these personas that he chooses to adopt. Then they strike up a friendship and I think the ending of it, not to give anything away, they say “Yeah, maybe we’ll start here.”
EM – Yeah, I did appreciate that it was more about a platonic kind of love, like actually caring about someone and their personal growth rather than smooshing faces.
CC – Yeah! And back to your original question, I think there was originally supposed to be a “Wake up together” scene suggesting that they’d slept together, but Nick and I, and Ken as well, felt we didn’t really need that. It was far more unique to not include that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a Rom-Com before, so yeah, I think you’re right. That platonic relationship, as much as it is romantic, it’s really about starting fresh, starting from scratch. Like can we care about each other? Can we respect each other? Learn from each other? That’s really what relationships ultimately are about, friendships. It’s refreshing in that way.
EM – Now Sara is very determined once she finds Godfrey in the wild, very determined to get to know him, and has a doggedness in her pursuit of him that could be perceived negatively if you don’t balance her charm. How did you approach humanizing her in a way that we root for her to eventually meet up with Godfrey and learn more about him?
CC – Honestly I read and I just thought that I understood her. I found all the situations she was in to be really funny and I related to it. I related to the idea of this flawed woman who hasn’t really decided who she is. She’s been hiding behind this idea of “I’m a writer; that’s who I am” and she hasn’t realized that that’s just what you do, not who you are. I just couldn’t help but see the humanity of it and I guess that came out in the performance as something that I understood very clearly about her from the very beginning. I think it’s really important that we have characters, especially female characters, that are flawed. Like we inherently are, we all are, you know? I couldn’t help but see the humanity in her and I really enjoyed that. Really enjoyed finding that.
EM – How important do you think it was showing her encounter with her ex and showing her growth or lack thereof to help flesh her out as a fully realized character?
CC – I think it’s paramount. You care so much more about someone when you see a journey, you know? You want to see them grow, you want to see a proper arc to her character. I think there are certain things about Sara that aren’t necessarily super likable. Some things that say “ah, you haven’t really worked on yourself” and show a certain level of immaturity that is reflected in the situation with the ex and how self-involved she is. That she can only see it as something that’s happening to her and finds it difficult to be happy for him.
EM – One of the best through lines in the film is the relationship with Iliza Schlesinger’s Kelly as Sara’s agent and friend. There’s a revelatory scene where she breaks down all of Sara’s bullshit for her over a lunch date. Tell me about filming that scene and what that experience was like.
CC – I loved working with Iliza! She’s so funny and she’s so talented. I was a fan of hers even before she signed on for the movie. I remember watching her stand-up and thinking her observations on relationships were so funny. It was really, working with her was really easy. That scene, in particular, there was some improvised stuff in there, that was really fun to do. I’m glad that made it into the movie. Like me struggling to get out of the chair because I genuinely was struggling to get out of the situation. It’s a real restaurant and I don’t know if the spacing was that we decided on or that’s just how they do it at this restaurant; I don’t know. But, yeah, so much fun to work with Iliza and I felt that our chemistry was really natural. It just felt like hanging out with a girlfriend.
EM – It definitely comes through in the performance on the screen. A lot of the interactions have a very natural feel to them. A lot of Sara and Godfrey sharing the screen together has a palpable magic to it. I think it helps that both you and Nick are such versatile performers, you have such a wide range of abilities, you wear many hats. Singer/songwriters, dancers, etc. Tell me about meeting Nick and working together on camera.
CC – Oh it was great meeting Nick, he’s such a talented stand-up and musician, as you said. I really liked his sensibility, I liked his approach to the character. Rather than being performative it was very naturalistic which I appreciated and it was really great for me to be able to play off of that with a rather zany choice. I think if both of us had been at that pitch it would have been a little too much but I really appreciated how we were able to walk in together with our respective choices. And Nick’s just a great guy. He’s a dad, he’s got cool tattoos, he’s really tall; and he’s really talented, really funny. I really enjoyed working with him.
EM – So I believe this is Ken’s first feature that he’s both written and directed; what was it like working with him on this picture?
CC – Ken’s great. He’s a character, man. He’s not like anyone I’ve ever worked with, and getting to know him you realize he’s not like anyone you’ve ever met. He’s a true original, Ken Mok, and I think that’s why he’s been able to have had such an interesting career, to go from producing huge reality shows like “Next Top Model” which I watched OBSESSIVELY in high school. It’s really funny because I always remember seeing his name, Ken Mok, in the credits, and I obviously had no idea I was going to go on to work with him in this way. It’s kind of a treat. I remember going to sleepovers at my friend Tim’s house in Melbourne, Australia, and we’d all binge “Next Top Model” together, so it’s just funny the way that works. Ken is extremely enthusiastic, really open; he made an open playing field for me to just jump in and play around with the character. For me, with a movie like this, you’ve got to be able to play around, you’ve got to be able to feel that freedom, so I’m really grateful that he felt confident enough to allow that space for us.
EM – With this film, Godfrey’s story is so tragic, and Sara’s story has a pathos to it as well in the sense that she does know herself so little, so the comedy is so very important. What was it like walking that razor line?
CC – Well I think it was all in the script, thankfully. Like the moment I read it I just seemed to get her and my interpretation of her was, I think, more comedic than intended. Which is really interesting because if you’d asked me I’d have told you that it was written to be really zany and really funny and that was Sara, but that wasn’t the original idea, but that’s what I brought to it and thankfully everyone really enjoyed it and agreed that’s what the film needed. Sometimes you just discover that. Obviously the comedy is very important but I just found everything that happened to her to be really funny so I just treated it that way and that was my interpretation of it.
EM – So the film comes out February 5th. What are you working on next?
CC – Right now I’m working on a miniseries called “Dopesick” that Danny Strong created; its’ very different, it’s about the Oxycontin epidemic. It’s a real honor to be working on this miniseries. Then I’ve got a film called COBWEB coming that it is a horror movie that will hopefully be coming out around Halloween.
EM – Ah, perfect timing.
CC – Yeah. One for Valentine’s Day, one for Halloween, we’ll see if I can rustle something up for Christmas, how about that?
EM – I would like that, that would just round my year out wonderfully. That’s about all I have for you. Is there anything else you’d like to add about the movie or your experience working with Ken and Iliza and Nick?
CC – Oh, it’s just such a feel good movie. It checks all the right boxes, it’s so funny, it’s so fun. We had a pleasure making it and I encourage people to go out and watch it because I think it’s something people need to see right now.
EM – I 100% agree with that. I really enjoyed the movie. You managed to make Sara effortlessly likable. I just got swept into the narrative and just really enjoyed the whole viewing experience and I wish you the best of luck.
CC – Aww, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
EM – Alright, you have a great day.
CC – You, too! Bye.
Eric McClanahan – Good afternoon!
Nick Thune - Hey Eric, how are ya?
EM – I’m well, how are you?
NT – I’m doing great.
EM – Wonderful. Where am I talking to you from?
NT – I’m currently in Vancouver.
EM – Oh nice.
NT – I live in LA but I’m up here working right now.
EM – I’m down here in Texas getting attacked by my cat.
NT – Oof.
EM – It’s a loving attack.
NT – Okay, good.
EM – So we’re talking about THE RIGHT ONE which I got to view a couple of weeks ago. I’ve already gotten to talk to Cleopatra and Ken, so I have a lot of insight into the film, so I’d really like to know how you got involved with this project; Ken mentioned he had someone else attached and then you stepped in and saved the day. Is that correct?
NT – [laughs] I guess, yeah. I mean I know that it was written for somebody else then they sent me the script and said they want you to be in this movie. I guess the other person fell out. I called Ken after reading it and said “This is great. It’s like an actor’s dream. To be upfront with you I just don’t do accents, so if you want to hire somebody who does that, I don’t want to mislead you before we even start filming.” And he was like “No, we’re going to write the role for you, we’re going to change it around and make it where you’re comfortable, we use your strengths.” Any time someone says something like that, it’s like well, okay, I’m in.
EM – It’s funny, I mentioned that because of your background with your comedy and your music and just the many tools in your toolkit, I thought I couldn’t see anyone else playing this role. I was very impressed with the versatility you brought to the character of Godfrey.
NT – Well thank you.
EM - That’s why I think it’s so funny that an accent would be a deal-breaker in your mind.
NT – Yeah, it’s just one of those things where I get auditions all the time and they’re like “English Accent?” and I’m just like “…no.” Going in and risking everything already in an audition is tough, so I’m like, no. I did have one bad experience where I auditioned for that movie WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY and I had to do a Southern accent and it just did not go well and that was all I needed.
EM – Now the film is very interesting because it is very funny; I found myself laughing out loud several times, but the underlying theme does have a lot of pathos. How did you approach that razor-thin line between the comedy and the dramatic elements?
NT – Well I knew that the comedy in this lied in commitment and being within this guy’s character. I, just like most people, I hope, maybe some of them have it under control, but this character is a guy that, like I find with in my life, is living like Nick the Dad, Nick the Friend, Nick the Comedian, Nick the Actor, Nick the Neighbor… You know I’m all these different Nicks. Just like this character is presenting himself as these different versions of himself to all these people, where in the end, as I realized with myself, that I just want to be Nick and take that to all the places and bring the same guy. And that’s what I focused on as we started shooting this was that feeling in myself. The comedy comes from the failing in doing that, the struggle of trying to hide who you are but you just can’t really do it anymore.
EM – Right, like a peek behind the curtain?
NT – Yeah.
EM – Now Ken mentioned, when I asked him where this idea came from, Peter Sellers. Did you guys have that conversation about the Peter Sellers inspiration?
NT – No, but if we did that might have scared me away from that.
EM – [laughs] I thought it was very insightful, and I saw it come through in your performance. I was really impressed with your ability to show Godfrey in his moments of repose as a grieving man who was trying to come to terms with who he was as a person. He was trying to basically fall in love with himself in a certain way. Which is where Sara, Cleopatra Coleman, comes in. Tell me about how you two built your chemistry onscreen.
NT – Well we were both up there early and immediately were rehearsing dancing together. That was the first way that we interacted aside from the table read. And she’s an actual dancer; she has a history of being a dancer. I have a history of making people laugh on dancefloors at my inability to dance, but really trying hard at making it look like I was successful. So it was humbling to be around somebody who knows what they’re doing while I’m failing a bit. It put us in a really good position as her being better at me than everything, which is basically what happened. But it was fun and I think that really helped us gain trust in each other. As we were doing the movie she was so encouraging and there were definitely moments that I needed encouraging. You know, like “I don’t know if I’m doing this right.” Like I’m dressed like a woman and she was taking selfies with me and saying “You are so beautiful.” She was really just encouraging me and it was so nice.
EM – You know it is just so encouraging seeing women empowering one another. I really appreciate that.
NT – [laughs] It really is.
EM – Now this is Ken Mok’s first foray into writing and directing a feature film. Tell me about working with him and the excitement that had to have been on that set.
NT – Well there was a lot passion; Ken and I are both passionate people that wear it on our sleeves, and we argued sometimes about what we both thought was happening. He generally won every time but it’s what I needed. I was taking risks and failing or I’m doing something and probably failing most of the time to get it right and that would put me in a vulnerable place where I wouldn’t want to try things and he would have to get me to do them. Like some of the accents that I do in there. He eventually got me to do them because that’s part of his job as a director. You can forget, as an actor you’re there to do something, but also the director is there to get a performance out of you and you have to allow him to be able to do that. So just allowing Ken to figure out being a director and how to communicate. It was a great experience.
EM – I just have one last question about your perception of Godfrey’s relationship with Shad (his foster brother). We see a lot of Shad’s corner of it but we don’t see a lot from Godfrey, so as you were exploring the character, where did you imagine that was?
NT – You know I imagine that it was a place of being respected and being an older brother that’s probably failing a bit at his real job which is caring for him and he’s having to do more caring for me and I kind of brought that in a bit of insecurity around him that I’m not being the big brother that I’m supposed to be.
EM – That’s great insight. I really appreciate you talking to me. Sorry it was so brief but thank you and good luck on the movie!
NT – Thank you. Take care.
THE RIGHT ONE is released today, February 5th on streaming, on-demand, and in select theaters and will be available for purchase this Tuesday February 9th on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Until next time, stay safe and stay sane.
-Mceric, aka Eric McClanahan-