The Daily Quirk sat down with Robert Edwards, screenwriter and director of When I Live My Life Over Again, starring Amber Heard and Christopher Walken, for an exclusive interview at Tribeca Film Festival, and we’re bringing you all the inside info on the film.
When I Live My Life Over Again follows Jude (Heard), a young women struggling to find her way in life and in her music career, as she reluctantly moves back home with her faded crooner father, Paul (Walken). Paul is feeling bitter about his career and trying to find a way to make a comeback while also nagging Jude, who has much underlying resentment towards him, to get moving on her own career. Edwards captures the inner turmoil of each character in this coming-of-age among the generations.
Edwards explained that a lot of the inspiration of the story line came from thinking about legendary musical artists with a complex personal life. “I started thinking about guys like Frank Sinatra and other artists whose work is at odds with who they are as people. For instance, Sinatra’s music is known for being very romantic, people put it on when they want to make out, but in his personal life he was a lot more troubled when it came to women. I started thinking about what it must be like to be in the orbit of someone like that, especially a child, especially a daughter.”
Adding to the complicated relationship between Jude and her father is the fact that she also has a sister, Corinne, who has stayed by her father’s side throughout his career. Their differing relationships with their father create a bit of a rivalry between the two sisters. “Each thinks the other one is the favorite,” said Edwards. “Jude thinks that Corinne is the favorite because she has always taken shit from her father, she feels like the black sheep but Corinne feels the same way- that Jude gets all the attention- Jude’s the one with talent. Corrine’s always doing the right thing, she’s there for her father, she lives out there and really is never rewarded for it. I was interested in setting up that dynamic.”
As the film progresses it becomes more and more obvious that Jude is emotionally stunted by her father’s actions and has never taken the blame for any of her own downfalls. Edwards elaborated, “Paul and Jude are similar in some ways. She’s the one who inherited the talent but also the self destructiveness and I think Paul sees that in her and is always pushing her. He’s trying to make the most of her and her career as a parent with good intentions, but at the same time, he’s trying to live vicariously through her and right the mistakes that he made in his own life, so he has some selfish interest as well.”
“Paul is sort of a child who never grew up.” Edward explained about the deeper issues between Paul and Jude. “He’s spoiled, pampered, and has been catered to his whole life and he behaves that way, but by the same token, Jude sort of does the same thing. She’s been able to use her father as an excuse, to blame things on him, rather than taking responsibilities for her own actions. There comes a point in the movie where he tells her that bluntly and he’s right–it’s one of those moments when paul is correct. He is a lot smarter and self aware than Jude gives him credit for and she needs to face that fact.”
Even the title and song, “When I Live My Life Over Again,” has a different meaning to Jude and Paul. Throughout the film, Edwards explains you will hear three versions of the title song. “The song is written in Paul’s voice so it’s a little bit corny and kitschy and by the time Jude gets a hold of it, she reinterprets it and her version is really different.”
“She and Paul are at opposite ends of their career trajectory,” Edwards went on to explain. “Hers is just beginning and his is at the end so it’s the difference of an older person looking back and a younger person looking forward.”
With a such a complex character in Paul, we asked Edwards if Christopher Walken was always in mind for the role. “I wrote the script and didn’t have specific actors in mind but when we got serious about making it- he’s the perfect guy,” Edwards replied. “The character has flaws. He does some nasty things and says some nasty things to his own children. With the wrong actor he could be pretty unlikable but with Christopher, he just brings such charisma.”
Edwards added that Walken was almost too likeable in his character. “He can be this larger than life guy with such likeability, it was almost a problem! There were times in the post production that Paul is just too charming and too likeable. Even when he did nasty things, and we tried to make him really nasty, it just never worked!” Edwards joked. “You would be like, ‘oh so what, he’s great!’ We joked that we could have him chop off Jude’s head and the audience would be like, ‘Oh he’s so loveable!’ He’s the perfect guy for that.”
Whether it be living his musical career on through Jude or constantly updating his Wikipedia page to the legacy he wants it to be remembered as, Paul is struggling with a desire of immortality. “That’s an undercurrent that runs through the whole film,” Edwards said. “Even the title; you only get one chance at life but we all wish we had more.”
On how he hopes audiences will respond to the film, Edwards said, “I hope they enjoy it. I hope they feel like it’s natural- real life and real family.”
For upcoming public screenings and more about When I Live My Life Over Again, please visit TribecaFilm.com.