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Look out for more coverage of
The Wackness in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Wackness

THE STARS:
Ben Kingsley • Josh Peck • Olivia Thirlby
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Levine

Poster image THE CONCEPT:
Set against the backdrop of New York City in 1994, Luke Shapiro (Peck) spends his last summer before college selling dope throughout Manhattan, and trading it with his shrink, Dr Squires (Kingsley), for therapy

U.S. RELEASE: July 4 2008, Nationwide • Rated: R

THE COMMENTS:

BEN KINGSLEY:
Ben Kingsley“What attracted me to the script was its perfect symmetry. It is a great comedy, but it also has a heart. At the heart of it is once upon a time there was a boy who had no parents, and once upon a time there was a father who had no children, and they fulfill each other’s needs perfectly. (Dr. Squires) fulfills his urgent need to parent somebody. Josh’s parents lie to him continuously, so he’s parentless, and the universe brings us together and for that crucial time we’re together, it works. I found that symmetry beautiful. Comedically, it’s flawless. It’s dangerous, it’s tasteless at times. It’s elegant at times. It’s moving and absurd. It’s never cruel or cynical. It never gets a laugh at somebody’s expense.”

JOSH PECK on how he immersed himself in a culture he only got to know as a child in 1994:
Josh Peck“One of the great things we’re afforded as actors is to re-examine certain parts of our lives that might have otherwise grown dormant. I found that it was necessary for me to not only look at things I remembered as a child of eight from 1994, but what adults were talking about. I remember Pulp Fiction was huge in ’94. Everybody was talking about it. It’s sometimes small essences of a time that will illicit a certain response that I’ll have that helps me root the character in a real honest and truthful place.”

KINGSLEY:
Ben Kingsley“I recognized Dr Squires’ narrative function in the film. I knew what that character needed to do to make the film work. I had a head start as a young actor by being able to do a lot of Shakespeare. There are certain roles I read [and see Shakespeare in them]. For example, Don Logan in Sexy Beast, it’s Iago, the bringer of destruction to Othello’s life. I read this and it directly echoes Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV, the crazy, wonderful, larger-than-life wizard that needs to impart to the prince information he will need when he’s king.”

PECK:
“I think I was lucky in the sense that really the core of who Luke is and Dr Squires is very much rooted in a universal theme of the need for redemption and taking a moral inventory and figuring out what to do when the support system that should be supporting you, isn’t. I think they both have a lack of family and friends so they find it in each other. That was what I most focused on, but as far as the drug dealing goes, growing up as a teenager in this world, I think you just run into some nefarious cats. I took tidbits from their mannerisms, I call it the hustler’s paranoia.”

KINGSLEY:
Ben Kingsley and Josh“Working with Josh was delightful from the word go. I learned later his favorite film is Searching for Bobby Fischer. He can quote huge passages from it. So we bonded over that, saying the dialogue to each other from certain scenes. It’s a joy to work with an equal. It’s like playing tennis, you can have a great game with somebody who’s an equal match with you.”

PECK:
“Sir Ben has been my favorite actor since I can remember loving acting. I was introduced to him with Searching for Bobby Fischer and I think it’s one of his greatest performances. He said to me the first day of shooting, ‘This part chose you. You didn’t choose this part,’ and he gave me a hug. I think he knew that a good amount of vulnerability needed to be there so that we could feel comfortable in front of each other in the scenes.”

KINGSLEY on the fact that other actors are in awe of him:
“I’m just another kid on the block, I really am. [Every movie] is a fresh experience for me. Day one for me is day one for them. The first take of the first scene I have the same stomach full of butterfies that they have. The relief when the directors says, ‘Got it, let’s move on, print it,’ is the same for me as it is for the rest of the cast. Because, as I said, it’s a cast of equals.”

Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official The Wackness site
Images above © Sony Pictures Classics
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #698, July 2008 cover

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