In the new film, Come and Find Me, David (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul) and Claire’s (The Tudors’ Annabelle Wallis) idyllic relationship comes to an abrupt and mysterious end after Claire disappears without a trace. Devastated but incapable of letting go, David follows her trail down a frantic and increasingly dangerous path. Shocked at discovering Claire was living a double life, he’s forced to risk everything if he ever wants to see her again. I recently sat down with writer/director Zack Whedon and Aaron Paul and discussed everything from beer drinking to, of course, the film.
I want to talk about the script first. Since I’m a writer, that interests me. It was on the Blacklist. Most of us in Hollywood know what it is, but for those of us not familiar, what is the Blacklist?
Zack: The Blacklist is a list of feature scripts compiled by producers and assistants of producers of their favorite unproduced screenplays that they’ve read that calendar year. This was on the 2012 Blacklist. It’s a really cool distinction because there are so many scripts that get written that never see the light of day. To shine a light on the work is a huge help to young writers.
Aaron: When you found out you were on the Blacklist, did you stand on top of a table and just feel validated?
Zack: [laughing] I don’t mean to brag, but it was the second time I was on the Blacklist.
Aaron: Oh wow! So it’s like [rolls eyes] Blacklist again.
And this is a good thing – not like in the 50s.
Zack: Exactly. My grandparents were on that list.
Zack: My grandfather was. No, it was awesome. I was so very excited. It immediately generates a lot of attention to your project so it’s hugely helpful.
Aaron, the press notes stated that you fell in love with it in the first few pages. What was it in the first few pages that you fell in love with exactly?
Aaron: It starts leading you down this one direction. Then all of a sudden, you’re taken down this other direction. I just loved those two characters so much from the very beginning. I just instantly connected with them. I was emotionally invested in wanting to find out what their journey is. I try not to look at who’s involved – like the people behind the project. That the script was on the Blacklist was something that was told to me over the phone. I read a lot of bad scripts. I knew that this was going to be very intriguing. I knew from the logline that this girl was going to go missing. After the first five, six pages, I was like, ‘alright, I’m in.’ I read the whole thing on my phone. Anytime anything comes in on my phone, I try to read the first few pages. I ended up reading the whole thing and I’m like, ‘oh God, I’m done. Holy shit, I love this project.’ I couldn’t wait to sit down with Zack.
Speaking of the first few pages, has there ever been a time when you read the first few pages of a script and you’re like, ‘awesome,’ but then you get to the end and you’re like, ‘not so good anymore?’
Aaron: [laughs] Absolutely.
Zack: The beginnings of scripts are the most fun to write. Endings are harder.
I agree. I have trouble with that myself. I start it and don’t know how to finish it. Okay, when you guys met, you [Zack] said that Aaron was the loveliest person you ever met.
That’s a pretty big statement.
Aaron: It is.
Zack: That is absolutely true. Where are these details coming from? It’s like someone is reading my diary.
The quote was in the press notes.
Zack: It’s absolutely true.
More so than your wife or family?
Zack: My wife is a close second.
Aaron: A close second [laughing].
Zack: The truth is, my recommendation to filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers of any kind is, if you have the opportunity to work with Aaron Paul, do it.
Zack: The effort he puts into it – his emotion and vulnerability and enthusiasm. As a first time director, he really set the tone on set of positivity and energy that was invaluable to me. He had taken a leap of faith with me and I think everybody else followed suit. Loveliest human being I ever met sounds about right.
Aaron: The moment I met him, I just knew I wanted to do the film. I loved the script. I knew he was a first time director. He has written a bunch of beautiful work. It was all about making sure we were on the same page – that we wanted to tell the same story. We had a beer at The Pikey. Maybe an hour into the meeting, we were ‘let’s do this movie.’ I was excited to take this journey with you. For me, you say leap of faith. I guess, but I knew, even with this short meeting, that this was going to be an incredible journey because we had the writer on set everyday holding the reins in the director’s chair. This is his baby so he’s going to want to make it perfect.
So the bromance was in full swing after that first hour?
Aaron: Yes. We were just talking between interviews. It does feel like a long time ago that we were at that bar and a lot has happened since then. I’m so excited to talk about it and be in the room with him.
So for clarification, what bar was that?
Aaron: The Pikey.
Zack: It’s on Sunset just east of Fairfax.
Aaron: It’s a great bar. It has Dogfish Head, my favorite beer. Feel free to write that. I mentioned something about Dogfish Head on some talk show and they sent me a case. And a hat which I’m very excited about.
So Zack, what’s your favorite beer so you can get a case?
Aaron: [laughing] There are so many!
Zack: What’s my favorite beer? I don’t know.
We can come back to that.
Zack: I was raised to shop for beer by looking at the price tag, so I’d have to say Schaefer. It’s the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.
Aaron: [laughs and claps] That’s so great.
After a while, you can’t really taste it anyways. So back to the movie, what was the hardest part about making the movie as a first time director with a low budget?
Zack: There were a lot of locations for such a short shoot. For me, the most difficult days were when we have multiple locations so you have to move and that eats up so much of your schedule. The things I was most confident directing were the interpersonal scenes. The things I was least confident with were the action sequences. Those days where we had to crash the car or do something of the kind, those were the days when I was the most stressed out.
Aaron: It’s also kind of exciting.
Zack: It’s really exciting. There’s a certain amount of unpredictability when you run a car into something and I wasn’t a fan of that unpredictability. It generated a lot of anxiety for me, but it was all fun.
So the car crash scene was the most difficult scene for you?
Zack: Yes. I’d say so.
Aaron: I am so used to and in love with independent filmmaking. The size of the crew is such a polar opposite than going to a huge, giant film where it’s rare to even meet everybody. Here we had 30 people on set roughly, maybe a little more. But when you know everyone’s name, there’s something very magical about it. I think my roughest scene was maybe getting the needle in the finger. I know it’s just me in a room, but it’s me screaming.
It made me cringe watching it.
Aaron: I know. It’s just so draining. I’m like, ‘Get. Me. Out. Of. This. Room!’
Zack: He really went for it. He was all the way there emotionally in terms of ‘I’m being tortured right now.’ It was excruciating to watch but to do that for hours on end.
Aaron: There was so much going on so that was definitely my roughest day.
Come and Find Me opens in select theaters November 11th.
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