In his newest film “Digging for Fire,” which screened at the ArcLight in Hollywood on Thursday, filmmaker Joe Swanberg returns to his trademark of letting the actors improve nearly all of the dialogue. Jake Johnson said on the carpet that being listed as a co-writer is kind of a joke considering the script was just a three-page outline.
Still, the film’s framework presents opportunity for naturalistic dialogue, and for actors like Orlando Bloom, it was enticing to create his own character. “The idea of improvising a role was new for me and exciting,” he said. “I’d never worked like that.” In the film, Bloom plays a compassionate, motorcycle-riding, mysterious but agreeable man who encounters Rosemarie DeWitt‘s character in a bar, leading to an interesting escapade. Bloom talked about suggestions he made for his character: “I want to ride a bike,” he said. “I wanted to be charismatic, charming — kind of have him get into a fight. So I threw these ideas at (Swanberg) and he was like ‘Great, let’s do it all.'”
DeWitt got involved with the project after expressing interest in working with Swanberg when her husband, Ron Livingston, was working on “Drinking Buddies.” “I couldn’t believe it came around so fast,” she said. “You know a lot of people say that, and then it just never happens. There was follow-through. We like follow-through in Hollywood.” The actress explained that figuring out how to get from plot points A to B was fun for her because of the unexpected events in between. “I may have made Jude Swanberg, Joe’s 5-year-old son, cry in the movie. I may not,” she said. “There are a lot of things that just happen.”
She elaborated on her statement, which clearly demanded further explanation (it actually makes sense if you see the movie). “Joe told Jake to tell (Jude) to say ‘poopy,’ and then he told me to tell him not to say ‘poopy.’ And so I said it and (Jude’s) lip started trembling because he didn’t know it was a bad word.”
DeWitt and Bloom are two members of a large ensemble cast of familiar faces including Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Judith Light, Jenny Slate, Melanie Lynskey and Timothy Simons.
With the film’s large ensemble and a tight budget, Johnson explained how they wrangled everybody together. “For an actor, it’s a very easy yes (because) you can do kinda what you want,” he said. “If somebody in a movie that you’re doing doesn’t allow you to do something, you’re allowed to do that here.”
Several members of the production were missing at the L.A. premiere including Swanberg, who was apparently with his wife, who is expecting a child. Larson attended the screening but posed for pictures for about 20 seconds before making a 180-degree turn and heading to the HFPA Grants Banquet at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Following the screening, guests hopped to Wood & Vine for the after-party, sponsored by Sabra Dipping Co. Other guests in attendance included Jack McBrayer, Kate Flannery, Max Carver, Holland Roden, Dan Bucatinsky and Rachel Roy.