Colossal co-stars Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis and director Nacho Vigalondo
In her latest film, Colossal, Hathaway manages to channel all of her experience into her portrayal of Gloria, an alcoholic with a deep desire for belonging. During the film’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of last year, we had the opportunity to sit down with Hathaway and co-star Jason Sudeikis as they shared about the challenges to bring such complicated characters to life. Having portrayed numerous emotionally-broken characters in her career (including her Oscar-winning role in Les Miserables), Hathaway says she is drawn to these characters because she can relate to them.
“I love them. I have a lot of addicts in my life that I feel a great tender affection for. I think we’re living in a time of such exciting consciousness in terms of compassion levels. Obviously, worldwide but within individuals, it’s been so inspiring and I love when stories present the opportunities to present groups that have been stigmatized, groups that have been judged, groups that have been looked at with very hard hearts, binary thinking, value-based judgment and I love going inside them and showing the human side of them because I always look at it and say ‘That’s me in there’ on some level… I want everyone to be treated with love”
“I know I began my career as a Disney princess but that wasn’t what my life was. So, I know this character pretty well.”
In Colossal, Gloria (Hathaway) lives her life the only way she knows how… for herself. Ruined by alcohol and partying, she finds herself out on the street after her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) tires of her behavior and asks her to move out of his apartment. With nowhere else to go, she returns to her childhood home and reconnects with Oscar (Jason Sudekis), her childhood friend. Meanwhile, seemingly unrelated events from across the globe involve a gigantic monster rampaging through Seoul, destroying everything in its path. In the light of this global event, Gloria attempts to build a fresh start and soon discovers that she has a surprising connection with the beast itself.
Without question, Colossal is truly one of the most unique projects in recent years, spinning a story that has shades of warmth, fear, comedy, and even an homage to kaiju movies. When asked what drew him to this film, Sudeikis argues that it was the script that compelled him to leave his young family to take on the role.
“It’s gotta be a story worth leaving the house for,” he states, matter of factly. “[It needs to be] worth leaving this home that we’ve made for ourselves and this was one of those. Six weeks in Vancouver? I would’ve spent twelve weeks on Mars to because I think the story’s worth telling.”
Interestingly, instead of opting for the more traditional Japanese location of films such as Godzilla and Gamera, Colossal focuses its attention on Seoul, Korea. Given that the film grapples with a battle for Gloria’s soul, Hathaway explains that she appreciated the connection between location and heart.
Says Hathaway, “It was just one of those happy things. I loved saying those lines… ‘Seoul is behind that fence. Giant monsters attacking Seoul… I loved the way that Nacho filmed the street scenes of people. I got really moved seeing the depiction of joy in the streets. So often the things that we’ve seen are of terror in the movies and in real life. To see that was good for my heart.”
When asked whether or not she believes that the film industry contains a sense of toxic masculinity, Hathaway warns us to refrain from lumping all forms of masculine culture in the same box.
“I think it’s important to say that [toxic masculinity] is very different from male energy,” she reflects. “Male energy is beautiful. [It’s] welcome. [It’s] necessary. [It’s] half the reason that we’re here. That said, there has been a perversion of this male energy into this macho ideal and I don’t think it serves anybody… I don’t think it serves love… In terms of this movie, what I think our director was saying was that he thinks this energy has no place in our world anymore.”
Taking on the villainous role of Oscar in Colossal is Jason Sudeikis, an actor known primarily for his comedic abilities. While some might find it less than positive to be viewed as a villain, Sudeikis was excited to take on the challenge.
“I was flattered to be seen that way, which is a weird thing to say. For me, I can view him now as a bad guy but there you have to feel this sort of empathy for this person. He breaks my heart a little because he just doesn’t love himself. He has so much self-hate that it’s spilling over. So many grudges kept and holding on to so many things.”
Despite his obvious flaws, however, Sudeikis also believes that there’s more to Oscar than simply being labelled a ‘bad guy’.
“I’m not sure he is [a bad guy],” he argues. “What makes that eight-year old boy do that thing? What makes him feel so badly about himself? What drove him to such self-loathing? We don’t have the option of throwing each other away… We have to find a way to reach into people and not label them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but just say ‘are you hurting?’ and ‘do you want to heal?’… Let’s celebrate the grays.”
Of course, given that so much of Colossal focuses on the emotional journey of its female protagonist, it also seeks to set an example for other films to follow. Hence, Hathaway believes that the responsibility to show the strength and courage of women lies in providing alternatives to what could be, as opposed to the way things already are.
“What you want to do is create examples that people can site as to why the old model of thinking is old. You want try to create examples that people can site so that they can take risks. It can’t just be the filmmakers. The media has to help out…”
“I think everybody is poised and primed for change. And I think we just have to be kind right now because change isn’t perfect. And there’s going to be disappointments and I think we just need to be patient.”
Colossal is in theatres now.
To hear our entire roundtable interview with Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, you can download it from iTunes or stream it here.
To read our review of Colossal from TIFF16, click here.
To read our exclusive interview with director Nacho Vigalondo, click here.