‘Descendants’ story connected with Payne

Eye on the Oscars: Best Picture - 'The Descendants'

Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

“We received a manuscript of the book by an unpublished author from an agency in London, and read it and immediately responded to it,” Burke says. “It was like when you walk into an apartment and you know this is the place where you want to live.”

“Fox Searchlight was ready to finance, provided the vision of the film was in line with theirs, so we figured out a way to do it. We think you shouldn’t be spending that much on movies. We’re conservationists, in all parts of our lives.”

“The biggest challenge was to get Alexander (Payne) to direct it. It’s not that easy. It had been a while, and he’s extraordinarily particular, as he should be. I respect him for this: He needs to find a way to connect to the material personally, and that’s what makes him the director that he is. He’s not a careerist; he’s more of an auteur.”

“Alexander, then George (Clooney). Once he said yes, then the rest of the casting chugged right along. With the exception of Beau Bridges and Robert Forster, everybody else auditioned. The last person to be cast in a major role was the younger girl, Amara Miller. It was a little nerve-wracking; we were three weeks away from shooting, and we found her through a friend of a friend of a friend.”