Robin Wright is not afraid to go to the most painful parts of the human experience. Her latest film, Land, follows a woman named Edee after the deaths of her husband and young son. Her grief pushes her away from the world and she escapes to a small, abandoned cabin on the side of a mountain in Wyoming.
“We toyed with the word ‘survival’ … ” explains Wright, the film’s director and star. “It’s not so much that she wants to die. She wants to erase herself — the self that she was with her family — because it’ll never be the same.”
A severe winter storm leaves her without any way to get food. She is unconscious on the floor, freezing to death, when a stranger, played by Demián Bichir, happens upon the cabin and nurses her back to health.
On Bichir’s character, Miguel
I didn’t have to give him much. He knew exactly who this character was. Demián also had an unfathomable event happen to him, and he had experienced what Edee had with the different phases of grief, and he just said, I know this character because I’ve been there.
On Birchir losing his wife, actor Stefanie Sherk, to suicide just a few months before filming began
When I met with him before we shot the movie, we sat in my living room for an hour. And he just said, “I need to play this part. It’s therapy for me.” And the only word I gave him, as a symbol to represent who he is to Edee, I said, “You are her saint.” And he went, “Done. That’s all I needed. See you on set.” And we left and I saw him a month later and we started shooting.
On the intimate silence between the characters
That was brought by Erin Dignam, who was one of the writers, and she’s like, he needs to be frugal with his words. He only speaks when it’s important. He’s an incredible listener. He’s very discerning. And respects her wishes when she says, “I’m choosing to be here. And can you not tell me anything about the world outside.”
He’s like, OK, but if you’re going to stay here, I’m going to teach you how to properly survive. And in the quietude, you know, we cut a lot of lines, frankly. He was talking too much and Demián is that quality anyway — he’s one of the most soulful men I’ve ever met. And is such a gentle, beautifully open, gentle soul — so what a gift to to get that actor to be in this movie. It was perfect.
On a moment of levity in the film, when Miguel starts singing the 1980s pop song, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
Erin Dignam, the writer, was actually frustrated, saying we need levity. And she just came up with that idea that he’s just singing an ’80s tune. And when you’re doing a low-budget movie, you only have so much in the kitty. … We had a choice between that one and I think two other ’80s songs that I just went with that one. … We just could not stop laughing.
Danny Hajek and Scott Saloway produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Beth Novey adapted it for the Web.