Elizabethtown – BBC

Cameron Crowe: Elizabethtown

Jerry Maguire (1996) and gooey headscratcher Vanilla Sky (2000). Along the way, of course, the former Rolling Stone contributor has also found time to indulge his passion for music in films such as Singles (1992) and Almost Famous (2000). And in his new pic, Elizabethtown, he’s combined both interests in a plot which finds Orlando Bloom’s suicidal young man travel home to Kentucky for his father’s funeral and find love with Kirsten Dunst’s airhostess – and music fan – along the way.

Is this your most personal and revealing film?

It began as a tribute to my dad and was born out of a road trip that happened in Kentucky three summers ago. It grew from a very personal story of coming face to face with a family that I was new to and felt really comforted by, so I didn’t feel as alone as I thought I did. That was the jumping off point for what Elizabethtown is, which is basically a story that begins with an ending and ends with a beginning.

Given the amount of scenes that take place in the kitchen, can we presume that food is something of a tradition at a Kentucky funeral?

Yeah. I was brought into the world that exists in the South and it was amazing to me that so much is communicated in the kitchen. It’s food as a context for life and I just thought that was a great way to thrust Orlando’s character, Drew Baylor, into this phase of celebrating Mitch [his father]: send him into a kitchen where life is exploding.

Why did you initially cast Ashton Kutcher and what process led you to then cast Orlando Bloom?

Orlando was actually my first choice but he was doing Pirates Of The Caribbean and so wasn’t available. So I went on my journey and met up with a bunch of different actors and I thought Ashton brought a really nice stillness to the part of the character and worked on it for a while. Ultimately, it wasn’t going to work and destiny was with Orlando, who was the first guy I sat down with and read the script out loud. He then became available when the movie got pushed back and it meant that I was also able to shoot the movie during the summer, which was nicer than shooting him arriving in Kentucky while it was snowing. It always felt best with Orlando. I love his stranger in a strange land quality that he brings to arriving in Kentucky, looking around and being hit by this hurricane of love and feeling like he’s with family and feeling like a stranger in the place.

Can you talk about your love of Tom Petty? He appears three times on this soundtrack and has featured in a couple of your films…

Tom Petty is one of the kings of the road trip mix. Song after song after song is just perfect. It’s like Kirsten says in the movie: “Roll down your window, some music just needs air.” That’s Petty. I wanted to use him in Vanilla Sky but his music just didn’t work at all in that movie. When we got to this movie, it just felt like we’d start with a lot of Tom Petty.

Tim Devitt, who plays Drew’s late father, isn’t widely known but has to convey quite a bit without saying much in the film. How did you choose him for the role of Mitch?

He is a commercials director who decided that he wanted to try acting, so he came in and we tried him on a couple of speaking parts. Then we said, “Try not speaking.” And it was, “Wow!” So I called him back and it felt right. I called him up and said, “Tim, I have a part for you in the movie.” He said, “That’s great, tell me about it.” And I was like, “Well, you’re going to lay around a lot.” I told him about the part and said that Kevin Costner in The Big Chill would be his role model. He was great and actually speaks to Orlando off-camera in a lot of those moments when Orlando is peering into the casket. Tim is saying odd things to him. So when Orlando is reeling back a little bit it’s probably because our silent master, Tim, is saying rude and strange things to him.

There are a lot of romantic gestures in the film. Are you a romantic yourself?

I like the idea of something simple, of being listened to. That the thing that you thought you said may have disappeared into the ether but it was logged, noted and acted upon. It’s probably obvious from the movie, but I love it when you get a mix CD with the artwork on it and the songs have been carefully chosen.

Courtesy of the BBC – Rob Carnavale – October, 2005