Kelly Reilly chats about “Flight”

The up and coming actress spoke to me about her role in the new Robert Zemeckis film…

Sometimes the very first moment where you meet the person you’re about to interview really sets the tone for the talk to come. In the case of Kelly Reilly, I walked into the room we were going to use just as she was finishing up dealing with getting an apartment, so I’m sure the last thing on her mind was me. Still, she was incredibly warm and funny right from the start, so much so that we just chatted for about 10 minutes before I turned on the recorder. Even after that, we had a great talk about her work in ‘Flight’, among numerous other things, which is all you can ask for. I enjoyed the film (my review of which can be found here), so I was eager to talk with her, and she definitely didn’t disappoint.

Joey Magidson: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you wind up being in the movie? Obviously it’s designed as a Denzel Washington/Robert Zemeckis project…

Kelly Reilly: Sadly they needed more people! Well, I got sent the script and they were basically throwing out the net, so I put my tape in. This one, I do remember when I got it that the casting director said that Bob (Zemeckis) had seen your work and really liked it so he wanted you on tape. I had read the script and really loved this sort of ghost character, but figured there’s no way that it would go my way, that no matter how much the director likes you, at the end of the day the studio would say they needed a name. That’s happened to me so many times, so I went into this thinking it wasn’t going to happen. It’s a terrible attitude to have, but it’s just from experience. He wound up calling me though, to meet Denzel, to read with him, and that’s when I knew it was possibly in my grasp, and then Denzel said yes, he wanted me for the role, so that’s when the studio got in line.

Joey: Very cool. Especially considering all of the big names in the cast, they had to have liked your performance a lot, on top of the whole cast loving the script.

Kelly: That’s exactly what happened. The lovely actress Melissa Leo has one scene in the movie, and nails it. She doesn’t need to be doing it, but she gets to do a scene with Denzel and Robert Zemeckis, so she said why would I not do it? The quality of the work get people to do it too.

Joey: You wonder who would actually turn a part like that down…

Kelly: (Laughs) You’d be surprised though how many do, if the part isn’t big enough or the money isn’t enough.

Joey: I guess you hope that’s not the case too much.

Kelly: As many that would say yes, there’s just as many who would say no, sadly.

Joey: Your character, I really loved her entrance…

Kelly: Yea…

Joey: It’s going to surprise a lot of people, since 2 minutes shown in the trailer is not the whole movie at all.

Kelly: Yea, they kind of kept that whole thing in their back pocket, which is interesting because usually when I see a trailer I feel like I’ve just seen the whole movie, and most of the time I have. When I saw this trailer though, I was like “oh man I’m not in it, they cut me out of the movie!” When I saw the movie, everything I shot was in it, but the trailer certainly doesn’t show everything. I don’t know if anyone would go see it if everything was in there. It’s a really interesting question.

Joey: Indeed. Like you said, people may not even realize your character is in it, but she’s so important to the movie.

Kelly: I think he (Zemeckis) kinda wanted to offset people going in. People come in expecting one thing and get another, so they’re actually more open to it, and I like that.

Joey: With your character, it’s almost like she’s the only one calling Denzel’s character on his shit. The clean cut people are actually the enablers.

Kelly: Yea, and I like all those parallels, I think those things are so smart. John Gatins is not afraid of the darkness of the world, but he’s also got such humor about it, so when you compare that to Robert Zemeckis’ compassion for the characters, it’s a great thing.

Joey: Honestly, one of the things I felt odd about initially was they way they leave your character. It’s sort of abrupt, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. You’re just expecting it…

Kelly: Oh believe me my ego wanted it. A part of me was like “oh shit, it should really be her turning up at the end!”, you know what I mean? But it would also make you throw up a bit.

Joey: You keep waiting for her to come back, but when she doesn’t you realize how honest she was.

Kelly: She was honest. I think that is something that Zemeckis was so clean about. I’d ask him about if she should be more warm to him, but he’d tell me no and that your character knows not to. That was one of the hardest things about the role, figuring out the pitch of it.

Joey: Especially her first hour of the movie, she gets a focus no one else gets. Those first couple scenes, they’re so funny in an uncomfortable way.

Kelly: Yea! (Laughing)

Joey: They’re funny scenes, but about her getting heroin…

Kelly: I agree.

Joey: It’s a lot of things all at once.

Kelly: It’s a very human and grown up film, full of complexity. Who wants to have everything all together all the time? We just endeavor to try, and we see these characters just trying, so we all understand that.

Joey: It’s really interesting, and I hope people don’t miss the point of it.

Kelly: Thank you! I always appreciate it when people get it, since I don’t think it’s some sort of awful moral film where you come out of it and feel like it’s been shoved down your throat. That for me is horrifying, especially as a Brit. I find that sometimes American movies can sometimes do that…

Joey: The wrong ones!

Kelly: Yea, not the good ones…

Joey: I think it’s definitely going to open a lot of doors for you, among other things.

Kelly: I appreciate that, and I hope so. You know, this is my first movie in America, so it was a big one for me to land. Now I just think there’s another pile of scripts that now might get sent to me that never used to, and that’s what it gives you, a bit more choice.

(We’re then informed that it’s going to be the last question)

Joey: So tying that in, what’s next for you?

Kelly: I actually just did 4 films. There’s a small part in a really cool film called ‘A Single Shot’ with Sam Rockwell, which I’m really excited about. After that I did another mad indie film called ‘Innocence’, and then I did a film called ‘Calvary’ in Ireland with John Michael McDonaugh, who did ‘The Guard’. Did you see that?

Joey: I loved that movie!

Kelly: I play Brendan Gleeson’s daughter, with Chris O’Dowd, and he’s awesome. The other film is a French film I’m doing at the moment…in Paris.

Joey: That’s a good place to do it.

Kelly: Yea!

Joey: Well, thank you for taking the time…

Kelly: Thank you too, I really enjoyed talking with you.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!

What do you think?


Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.


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