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When I spoke with James Ponsoldt on May 6, 2013, had just driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He had also just been named as the director for the much-anticipated bio-pic, RODHAM, about Hilary Rodham Clinton’s years before marrying Bill, when she was a lawyer working for the House Judiciary Committee on the Watergate hearings. I waited until the end of our chat to bring it up, though. His drive came up when he waxed rhapsodic about vintage hangouts, including where to get a great piece of pie between the two cities, and why he met with his star, Miles Teller, in Hollywood’s legendary Formosa Cafe.
As for the conversation itself, we talked about the unusually respectful approach Ponsoldt took to depicting an adolescent’s very adult problems, how he’s open to advice from bot his cast and crew, and why he thinks co-star Bob Odenkirk is perfect to play the saddest white man in the world.
In THE SPECTACULAR NOW, based on the novel by Tim Tharp. Miles Teller gives a complex, star-making performance as Sutter Keely, a young man who seems to have the word on a string, but that string becomes more of a noose as the past dysfunction of his home life begins to take its toll on his present and future. The film co-stars Shailene Woodly as the unlikely girl who is the catalyst for bringing his life into perspective, Jennifer Jason Leigh as his compassionate but no-nonsense mother, Kyle Chandler as his father who is all charm and no substance, Brie Larson as the girlfriend who broke his heart, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the sister whose misguided sense of pity reveals a secret she shouldn’t have. Ponsoldt directed from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. His previous work includes the critically acclaimed SMASHED.
Click on the link to listen to the interview (12:54) THE SPECTACULAR NOW — James Ponsoldt Interview.