NINE DAYS Video Interview With Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, & David Rysdahl On Their Unique Roles (Exclusive)

NINE DAYS Video Interview With Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, & David Rysdahl On Their Unique Roles (Exclusive)

Ahead of Nine Days' release in theaters this weekend, we caught up with stars Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, and David Rysdahl to discuss their respective roles in the brilliantly unique sci-fi story...

Nine Days was released in New York and Los Angeles last Friday and has been met with widespread critical acclaim since. Now, it arrives in U.S. theaters nationwide starting August 6, and we were recently able to speak to Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, and David Rysdahl about their memorable, and often extremely moving and hard-hitting, roles as Alexander, Maria, and Mike. 

Their work in the movie is simply incredible, as is the way their stories run parallel to each other. 

In this brilliantly unique sci-fi original, Will (Winston Duke) spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live Point of View (POV) on TVs of people going about their lives, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on Earth. Soon, several candidates - unborn souls - arrive at Will's to undergo tests determining their fitness, facing oblivion when they are deemed unsuitable. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon with his own tumultuous past.

In this video, we talk about their respective experiences working on Nine Days, why it was exciting for Tony to tackle an original sci-fi project like this one after so many years in comedic roles, some of director Edson Oda's most creative moments on set, and the possibility of Tony returning as Forky. 

Check out the full interview with the Nine Days cast below:
 


This is such a thought-provoking film in the way it deals with what comes before life, but as actors getting invested in these characters, is it hard for you to shake them off when you leave the project? I know the film stuck with me a long time after the credits rolled.

Tony: Yeah, I think with any project it’s hard to leave [them]. Not just the characters or story because this was a really moving journey to be on, but also because I get to know everybody [Laughs]. You become a found family for this short period of time and then all of a sudden it’s, ‘See you! Maybe not, maybe see you again over Zoom.’ It’s always a weird feeling but that’s the bummer of the business.

Arianna: That’s especially true I think with COVID. The film played at a lot of festivals and had the potential to do even more screenings. During press, when I realised I may not see these people again, my heart sort of broke. We’d been through this incredible experience together creating this piece of art and I’m really happy to see their faces today [Laughs].

David: I agree with both. I love seeing your faces also! When I approach a character, I can get really sad when I leave them, so I try to just find a new part of myself and that part is now with me. That has helped me change how I view characters; I discovered Mike and that character is now part of who I am. I’m discovering part of this infinite self we all are, so that’s helped me with the way I approach acting so I don’t get too sad when I leave them. 

As actors, you’re all used to being interviewed in scenarios like this, but in the context of the film with Winston Duke’s character it’s obviously very intense and the subject matter is very serious with you having to appeal for the chance to live, so was that quite surreal?

David: I didn’t know Winston at all so I just let myself be Mike with him and I felt I got to know him after shooting. We kind of maintained our distance as he has the whole fate of our characters in our hands and, as Mike, I’m terrified of him. Everyone has their own experience with him, but I look up to him, and as an actor, I didn’t know him until after all that. He’s a beautiful soul and when we first started shooting I was nervous around him until I realised I’m just playing Mike; Mike’s nervous around him. I allowed those feelings to ferment. 

Arianna: We had some rehearsals which were really great. Working with Winston in rehearsals, I discovered some things about the character and found some ambition in her and the ‘good student.’ She can sort of see through Will in some ways until she couldn’t [Laughs]. It was an interesting process and Winston is a powerful, powerful actor and artist and it was wonderful to be able to collaborate with him.

Tony: I forgot that we had those rehearsals, Arianna, and you really don’t get that opportunity a lot with TV and film. I think it’s so necessary and I wish it happened so much more. We all come in with anxiety just in the project alone and it just helps to tear that down and be a little more grounded in it.  
 

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Tony, so many people will know you from your iconic comedy roles, and while there is a sense of humour in your character, he’s also a serious guy and at times, he gets very dark, so coming into an original sci-fi project, was it interesting for you to explore some different sides of yourself? 

Tony: Doing a job like this...any job is a gift, but these themes and this character. I was saying earlier that this is particularly scary because the questions never stop. The film is really about living in the question and I felt like we were constantly living in the question. ‘Where are we? What’s going on?’ It was a really beautiful tension throughout that carried over into the film, so it wasn’t bad tension, but always asking questions. It was pretty unique, honestly.

Arianna and David, without spoiling anything, you’re part of two really beautiful sequences with the bike ride and beach, but what were those like to shoot?

Arianna: I got to watch David’s being shot and even watching that was really magical. Shooting the bicycle scene was something I’ll never ever forget. It was a very long process. Longer than you might think and my legs were really in shape afterwards [Laughs], but it was unforgettable both with Winston and Benedict physically doing the staging as we were shooting. It was an indescribable experience and I think it translates really well to screen. 

David: We shot in sequence too so we got to experience that stuff when we were supposed to. I think allowing that...I came in with preconceived notions, but even after seeing the set the first time, I went in as my child’s play self seeing it for the first time and tried not to be right or profound. I was just going to play and see what that feels like. 

Tony, Alexander doesn’t have one of those moments, so was his decision something you and Edson discussed a lot to better understand why your character acts the way he does?

Tony: I seem to remember...this is what’s so beautiful about Edson. There was real collaborative energy. I feel like him tearing up the paper that Will hands him...I don’t think it was in the original story. There was this discovery happening that was very different than when I was going in and I really appreciate that. I’m always amazed when I hear Edson is a first time director because he just had an assurance and calmness to him. He allowed actors to discover with him and with a lot of first-time directors there’s a control and anxiety because it has to be this way, and Edson just had none of that. It was just an open, free environment which was beautiful. 

Tony, before I let you guys go, my young nephews won't forgive me if I don't ask whether there could be more Forky on the horizon for you? 

[Laughs] I would love that! Are you kidding? Talk about questions. That's all Forky asked was questions. He just asked a tonne of questions. I'd love to keep asking questions, whether it be Nine Days or Toy Story...just keep asking 'em [and] keep asking 'em!

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