Entertainment Weekly – When it comes to romance, we’re all just improvising our way through — and for the cast of ‘Endings, Beginnings’, that became true of their movie-making process as well.
The new romantic drama from director Drake Doremus stars Shailene Woodley as Daphne, a thirtysomething woman navigating love and heartbreak over the course of one year. That love and heartbreak comes courtesy of two men, Jack (Jamie Dornan) and Frank (Sebastian Stan). But the twist is that the entire movie was improvised.
Sitting down with EW for a recent Zoom roundtable, the cast discussed the challenges of ad-libbing a feature film, and how they found their chemistry. “I felt very anxious to want to please you, way more than I’ve felt on any movie,” Stan confessed to Doremus. “I really want to make sure he gets what he wants. But I think that’s the nature of the unknown of that.”
Woodley echoed Stan’s thoughts, though she said things got easier as they went along. “At first it felt a little bit daunting. We started out the movie in Big Sur, and that was the hardest part because Sebastian and I didn’t really know each other at that point,” she recalled. “That was the trickiest part for me, of just knowing how close should these two people be with one another, and because you’re improvising, you don’t really know what has happened in their story beforehand. It’s kind of a guessing game. That was the hardest part, that first week in Big Sur, those first couple days, and then after that, it just felt fun. It felt like every single day we got to come to set and play together. It didn’t feel like improv at one point, it just felt like life.”
In contrast, Dornan said he found the approach freeing, particularly during a scene where Woodley’s character must tell him about her pregnancy. “I felt like weirdly I could’ve done that scene for the rest of my career and been satisfied,” he said. “Shai was the most raw and honest person I’ve seen, with or without a camera in their face. Every time she walked in the kitchen, I didn’t have a f—ing clue what she was going to say.”
For Doremus’ part, he was thrilled with the results he got from his cast. “I feel like all the performances in the movie are so natural,” he said. “You don’t see the strings really at all.”
For more from Doremus and his cast, including which movies they’d want to teleport themselves into, watch the video above. ‘Endings, Beginnings’ is available to stream now.