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Hey all, had the pleasure of an enlightening chat about Adam, a truly unique love story involving a young man with Aspergerís Syndrome, a form of autism.  Stars Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy gave their thoughts on the realities of knowing people with the condition and convincingly playing them onscreen.



Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy


 Rose Byrne


The Lady Miz Diva:  How did you get involved in this unusual love story?

Rose Byrne:  I got sent the script; I was actually in India at the time on a vacation, so it was a little bit of a surprise.  I read it and really immediately was drawn to it, I had this instinctual kind of reaction, I started saying the lines out loud, and then cut short my vacation and came back to New York to do it.  When you do a film like this, you really donít expect much afterward, but this has been so incredible that itís been picked up and we went to Sundance cos the majority of projects like this donít see the light of day.


LMD:  The film asks where one might draw a line between Adamís reactions due to his condition and those of his personality, which comes to a head during his and Bethís big fight.  How did you approach that question preparing for this role? 

RB:  Well, another question was can you separate the illness from the person and I donít think you can.  I think itís one and the same in that way, and at that point she canít see that and she loses her temper and sheís like, ďYou know what, youíre a fucking child.Ē  Sadly, I think she wants to separate it, and I myself would too, trying to go, ĎThatís just human,í but I donít think you can, I think itís one and the same thing. Probably at the point he was being childish, but thatís the problem, heís never gonna realise that.   Even when she apologises to him, sheís like, ďNow you can say sorry,Ē and he canít even apologise.  That was an incredibly difficult scene to do, especially for Hugh, but he is excellent. We didnít have much time on the schedule and with scenes like this you wanna give them space and time and we didnít always have that, but he did a great job, obviously. Knowing somebody with Aspergerís, he did remarkable accurately portray it, I thought.


LMD:  Whatís coming up next for you?

RB:  Iím doing a film called ďGet Him to the GreekĒ which is the sequel to ďForgetting Sarah MarshallĒ with Russell Brand. Iím playing his popstar girlfriend called Jackie Q.  Itís a very small role, but itís really funny and quite a departure from anything else Iíve done before.  Iíve been watching a lot of Fergie videos; sheís great, sheís awesome, great dancer, she goes for it.  Iíve been watching some Lily Allen, Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, I mean you name it, Iíve been watching all the girl bands.  The film clips are crazy, anything goes.


LMD:  What are you taking away from watching all these videos?

RB:  Just the potential of a hot pant {laughs}. Wearing lots of hot pants, Iím not wearing much in the film.  Well, they donít wear anything in these film clips, but they have good lighting, so Iím hoping the lighting will be just as good!



Hugh Dancy


The Lady Miz Diva:  Had you met anyone in your research for Adam who had Aspergerís?

Hugh Dancy:  Oh yeah, of course.  The trajectory of getting ready, which was quite a steep trajectory, began with reading and the Internet, of course, and ultimately the end was being able to meet people with Aspergerís and people who work with them and listen to them and observe them.  But if Iíd done that on day one, I think Iíd have been completely overwhelmed and unable to decode the situation and probably just backed out of the entire thing because I wouldnít have felt up to it.


LMD:  What did meeting those people bring to your portrayal of Adam?

HD:  Itís a strangely personal and often subconscious thing, I think. I donít follow any school that I could give a name to, but I know a lot of the work youíre doing is to allow some other parts of you to form whatever it is that eventually you produce on day one, you know?  That particularly included in this, the physicality of the character and so forth.  So I sat in several rooms with different people and most importantly I observed the wide range within people that would be grouped as Aspies; the variety of behaviour, the variety of the different thought processes, the different ways they exhibited the condition.  And that gave me the freedom to realise that I wasnít just playing a type; that I could be selective, that I could pick and choose, in a sense.  Within the context of having educated myself, I could allow my imagination to run free to some extent.


LMD:  Rose talked about how difficult the fight scene was.  What do you recall about it?

HD:  I did it once or twice.  My voice was going; Iíd had an operation on my vocal chords earlier that year, so that was kind of a consideration.  The other thing that happened was that we had no budget on this movie and weíre filming inside somebodyís apartment, so there were props and I threw them around and I screamed - not to reduce it to that, but I did Ė and then the cameras still rolling and I was kind of aroused and I put my foot through a piece of furniture, to my surprise.  I just slammed my foot through the front of a cabinet and I felt even though everybody was quiet cos we were filming, an even greater hush descend on the room and it dawned on me that the furniture belonged to the person whose house we were renting, so we didnít shoot it again.


LMD:  One of the things I discussed with Rose about that scene is the temptation to separate Adam from his illness.  Did you ever think about that when you first read Adam?

HD:  I certainly thought about that, and it was a question that was put to me while I was preparing to play the part and I found it quite daunting because I hadnít really thought about it in those terms.  And it immediately seemed to me that I should have been thinking about it in those terms, or I should have an answer to that question.  I put it to one of the people who I was talking to quite often, who I suppose is an expert in this area and works with Aspies, or did at that time, and his response was, ďNo, thereís no separation,Ē which really surprised me because itís not the way that most of us are taught to think.  And now, Iím not sure that I agree with him about that, actually; I think that there is separation.  As I said, the variety not only in terms of the symptoms that you see in people, but the variety of personalities that I was introduced to was so great, but somehow that gave me permission just to not worry about it, to not worry about that question.  I couldnít help - because I am an individual Ė to invest Adam with some individual traits.  Which is not to say that I was bringing myself to the part particularly or as Max put it, ďItís Hugh with Aspergerís,Ē itís certainly not that simple, but I kind of gave myself permission to put that question to one side. Itís a very interesting question, though.



~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 10th, 2009





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Film stills courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures



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