Oh, Terrence Malick, have ye forsaken us? Many of us were split on his last film, “To The Wonder,” which began to see the director border on self-parody — shots of actors in various states of repose or twirling around with plenty of existential questions about the meaning of life delivered in voiceover. Some argued that “To The Wonder” was narrative-free and one long trailer for a Terrence Malick movie, while others found poetry in the experimental nature of a film built on pure emotion and feeling rather than story.
It seems like the debate about Malick’s newer direction won’t end with “Knight Of Cups,” a romantic drama about longing and searching that seems cut from the same stylistic cloth as “To The Wonder.” ‘Cups’ centers on a aimless Hollywood screenwriter (Christian Bale) with no sense of purpose, trying to find meaning in his empty, drug and sex-fueled life. Caught between two women, his ex (Cate Blanchett) and a new love (Natalie Portman), the writer wanders Hollywood in hopes of finding some salvation.
And as you might expect from a Hollywood tale, it’s filled with famous faces, with Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Freida Pinto, Cherry Jones, Joe Manganiello, Haley Bennett, Imogen Poots, Ryan O’Neal, Joel Kinnaman, Jason Clarke, Shea Whigham, Jocelin Donahue, Sergey Bodrov, Nick Offerman, and Ben Kingsley all appearing in some capacity. Also appearing? Comic actors Nick Kroll, Thomas Lennon, and Joe Lo Truglio, and recently chatting with Complex, they give a terrific oral history on making the movie. Here are just some of the highlights:
Lo Truglio: Seeing [us in ‘Knight of Cups’] is like Marlon Brando being on ‘Cheers.’ I think what happened was that Malick needed people who were able to improv. I mean, there’s also a chance he might have seen ‘Reno 911‘?
Kroll: For the rest of my day, I was like, “I think he just wants me to sort of disrupt Christian, to just fuck with him.” There was a scene where we were out on a balcony with hundreds of extras and Malick just wanted everyone to laugh, very maniacally. So we were all kind of laughing, and I got right up in Christian’s face and was laughing really weirdly and maniacally. Then there was this dude carving an ice sculpture, so I took a carrot’s worth of ice and stuck it down Christian’s back. To his credit, he was just like, “This is what is happening today.” I asked him, “Do you know what’s going on exactly?” He was like, “Not really.”
There’s much, much more at Complex, so be sure to give it a read. “Knight Of Cups” is now playing. Check out a behind-the-scenes featurette below, along with some new promos.