MTV has published on its site an interview with the director of House at the End of the Street, Mark Tonderai who explains the theme of the film, why it’s important to have a soul in the film, and obviously he talks about Jennifer Lawrence, namely why he thinks “she’s an incredible actress” and “she’s going to be huge”. A brand new clip is attached to the story, so check it out!
MTV:If that civil war is at the core of the film, then it would have been hard for you to cast better actors for these roles. Just on physical appearances alone, Shue and Lawrence look like they could really be mother and daughter. What went into firmly establishing and strengthening that relationship in the movie?
Tonderai:The interesting thing is, if I’m being honest ? and I think Elisabeth would say the same thing ? she went to me, “Oh my god, Jen is where I was 20 or 25 years ago.” She was in “Karate Kid” and one of the hottest young stars on the planet. There’s already a strange symmetry between the two. We didn’t know what was going to happen with “Hunger Games” then, but frankly, we had a sense of what would happen with her, because she’s so good. Both of these women are fiercely intelligent. That’s what makes me laugh, when I’ve seen comments on this film, that it’s this kind of schlock. But these women are very intelligent, who choose their films very wisely. They wouldn’t get involved with anything that’s just generic. They wouldn’t do that. They’re too smart and strong for that.
With Elisabeth, I really had to talk her around to do the part. She’s smart and asked lots of questions about motivations. We had this huge bible of characters and motivations, where these characters come from, their family trees ? the whole thing. I get the actors involved with writing these things. Same with Jen and her character. That’s what we did. We put them in that scenario. I don’t think I’m a genius in saying this, plenty of people have said this before me, but when you cast right, you’re kind of there. I think that’s what we did with this. You cast well, and you create an environment that allows them to be themselves, to try things, and you allow them to go. That’s all I did, to be honest with you.
MTV:You made “House” before Jennifer landed “Hunger Games.” What was your experience like working with her? You already said you had this sense that big things were coming her way.
Tonderai:The truth is, I knew that from seeing “Winter’s Bone.” I saw that in London on a cold day and I remember thinking, “That’s the one that I want [for ‘House’].” You need a really fantastic actress to get across these huge ideas. I knew she was special. And I knew it when we auditioned her. It was probably the last audition that she’s ever done. [Laughs] She came in and read for me, and just the way she read the words … actors don’t always have time to read the whole screenplay, they just read the sides. And I remember thinking, “Jesus, she’s just read this, right off the page, and it’s going right through me.” I said to her that she can be as good as she wants to be. In my mind, she can be this generation’s Meryl Streep. I seriously think she’s that good. She’s an incredible actress.
But for me, if I’m honest, all of that can be kind of irrelevant, in my book. You can have all of that talent but be a sh–person. In our industry, we attract sh–people. And she’s not. She has this real gratitude about doing what she does. She’s from a working class family and she knows there are people out there who work hard jobs. There are people sweeping the streets, nurses, people doing these really important jobs. She knows how lucky we are. I always gel with people like that. It’s an honor doing what we do. It’s a real privilege, it really is. Every day, we should be thanking the movie gods that we can do what we do. And she does that. You can sense that. She’s incredibly polite to everybody, it doesn’t matter who they are. I think she’s going to be huge. Well, she already is, but I think she’s going to get even bigger.