May-December romance bears awkward fruit

Peter Sarsgaard didn’t mind the three-year delay between signing on to “An Education” and the film’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

“To be involved with a movie with such a great script so early on is pretty rare,” Sarsgaard says. “Most of the time, you get involved late with a script like this one because everybody and their grandmother wants to be in it.”

Sarsgaard, who plays an older man (David) who begins a relationship with 16-year-old schoolgirl Jenny, was the first actor attached to the project and subsequently watched Lone Scherfig take the place of original helmer Beeban Kidron, and newcomer Carey Mulligan come aboard as his co-star.

Yet the thesp says he resisted any urge to become engulfed in the hiring process.

“I enjoy things that are out of my hands,” he says. “If I were to sit there and dream up what I thought the best version of (the film) would be, it would get a little sterile and predictable.”

Except for one scene involving David, Jenny, a bed and a piece of fruit, the Illinois native held the same conviction toward Nick Hornby’s script.

“I was concerned about the banana scene because I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around it, but when it came time to shoot, I found it pretty interesting. It says a lot about David and his relationship with sex,” Sarsgaard says.

While he could relate to aspects of his character from Hornby’s “incredibly clear” script, Sarsgaard admits that he also discovered David while filming.

“I’ve always found that the best character work happens through osmosis. I never have much of an idea what a character is like until about halfway through filming, and then it all starts to fall together,” he says. “I look back at the pieces that I’ve laid down, add them up and go, ‘Oh that’s who the guy is.'”

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