I Believe in Me: Alex Thompson and Kelly O’Sullivan on Ghostlight | Interviews

June 13, 2024 - Movies

KELLY: It was very collaborative. I will say that almost never happened. There would be times when he would ask very smart questions. We try to work with actors who like the material and feel connected to it. The first impulse is, ‘How do I make it work?’ And then, if for some reason they can’t, then it becomes a question of, can we do it a different way? But that didn’t really happen.

ALEX: Keith was, along with a few others, a part of our workshopping of this script. He would ask the question, “Would Dan really do this?” Would he really turn back and sit down and play this role? I remember even on set, before we shot literally the close-up of Keith when he makes the choice to sit, I said, “It’s the cut. The cut will do it. We cut and you’re there. So the pressure is not on you.” What I love about Keith is he’s always listening, and he understood that and immediately went and sold that. His little half-smile, kind of rakish look, maybe this is for me – totally sells that. I remember when we shot that. I knew we had done it. Dan makes this choice, and it’s not gonna be the weak leg of the table. I think that it was really cool that Keith was asking the questions and then always interested in how we would pull it off together.

KELLY: We did try to create an environment where actors could say something. A couple of times, Dolly came up to me and asked, “Is it OK if I say this?” Yeah! It would be annoying if an actor did it with every line, but when you can tell they’re discerning, and it makes a difference to them and their understanding of the character—yeah! Go for it!

Let’s talk about that cast. How did you find them?

KELLY: I wrote the part for Keith. He and I did a play together ten years ago. Keith had already played my dad. So I had him in my brain.

ALEX: I would offer that there’s a bit of you in Dan. You are guarded about revealing that vulnerability, especially to a group of strangers. I think you, like Dan, believe that, to a certain extent, you will be able to figure this shit out on your own. There’s you in Dan.

KELLY: Yeah. Keith had played my dad, so I saw him from this far away every night. Oftentimes, I would be in scenes with him and just be awed. It’s distracting. It’s annoying, honestly, how good he is. We’d come to a scene, and I’d be like, “This scene isn’t gonna work,” and he’d make it work. So, as I was writing Dan, I already had him in mind. He wrote and said he’d love to audition, and I told him I wrote it for him. Surprise!

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