In The Good Night, written and directed by Jake Paltrow, Martin Freeman stars as Gary, a man who experiences lucid dreams involving a mysterious sexy woman (Penelope Cruz), while feeling alienated from his live-in girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow). Simon Pegg plays Gary's best friend and Danny Devito plays a lucid dream expert. Martin Freeman, who is NOT related to Morgan Freeman, has previously starred in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Confetti, Love Actually, and the hit British TV show The Office. I had the privilege to interview him.
Yari Film Group releases The Good Night on October 5th, 2007.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you get the role of Gary?
MF: Jake Paltrow contacted me while I was making The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy three years ago and sent me the script. I responded to it very positively. It was original and I thought it had a true voice. I like working with people who just like to tell a story. [Jake Paltrow] adores film, so it was a joy to work with somebody with that passion.
NYC MOVE GURU: How did you know to trust Jake Paltrow?
MF: By talking to him. We talked on the phone for three quarters of an hour and I liked him. He was intelligent and particular. We had a similar idea of what the tone of the film should be.
NYC MOVE GURU: How do you behave on the set?
MF: I’m a well-behaved actor and a well-choosing actor because if I choose to do something, then you better believe that I’m committed to it. If I didn’t like something and thought it needed change, I either wouldn’t do it or would want a script doctor’s fee.
NYC MOVE GURU: In what particular ways do you relate to your character?
MF: I’m someone who loves music—I used to be in a band. We both have crises of confidence. My personal situation is very different to his, but it only takes a little bit of human imagination and empathy [to understand his experience].
NYC MOVE GURU: Have you ever experienced a lucid dream?
MF: Dreams can be extremely vivid, so that’s why they’re so troubling to us some of the time and why they’re so real. When I was six years old, I woke up and my family had just bought a donkey and we kept it in the kitchen—then I woke up [for real] and went downstairs and I was like, “Where’s the donkey?”. I think it’s the Australian Aboriginees who considered dreamed time to be actually more pertinent to life than waking life because it can tell you so much about your life and what your fears and hopes are.
NYC MOVE GURU: If you were Gary, who would you probably have in your lucid dream?
MF: I’ve always had a thing for Ghandi. I don’t find him sexy, but he is very interesting.
NYC MOVE GURU: Do you consider Gary’s lucid dream to be a form of cheating?
MF: Given that he has control over it, then it makes it closer to cheating. In the strictest sense, even thinking about that stuff is cheating. I suppose there’s no cheating like actual cheating [though]—actually having sex with somebody. I’m not sure if anything before that is considered cheating. Whether it’s cheating or not, I think what it tells you is that their relationship is something to be addressed.
NYC MOVE GURU: What are your thoughts about Gary’s girlfriend, Dora?
MF: I didn’t think she was that nice. She wasn’t terrible, but she was slightly dour and judgmental of him. She’s not overtly mean, but just not that encouraging. It was reciprocal—both of them stopped communicating and taking care of each other. They both retreated into themselves and stopped reaching out.
NYC MOVE GURU: What did you like about the ending?
MF: The ending is one of the reasons I wanted to do it. When I got to the last page [of the script], I thought it was great way to finish it—sort of, unresolved. It could have been a lot happier. I like knowing that it’s enough for him to keep dreaming.