Silly Billy performs magic, but he is actually a comedian for kids, using the magic as the medium for the comedy. Parents tell him that they have never seen their child laugh so hard. He appeals to all children, including the very young, as well as adults. To children, Silly Billy is very silly, and occasionally even mischievous.
Adults like him for his sharp, intelligent wit.
His core fans are children years old. Silly Billy designs each performance specifically for the ages of the children in the audience. Silly Billy can entertain a theater of thousands of people, or a living room with ten kids. Read about it here. He invents and sells original magic routines to magicians around the world. Chances are pretty good that if you hire another magician he will be performing the tricks Silly Billy invented.
So why not have the real thing? A Silly Billy birthday party is practically a rite of passage. This is a warm-up for things to come. The birthday child comes to the stage for some simple participation. This makes him or her comfortable with Silly Billy and acts as a litmus test for Silly Billy to get a sense of the kind of child he or she is, so he can tailor the interaction level to their personality.
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I needed to find a way to put myself in there. And then my wife, who's also in the movie, Julianne [Moore] saw it and was really interested in Rolf Lassgard, who plays the part that she ended up playing. Just liked his arc. So we started playing around with the idea of what would it be like to change the genders of the three leads and that kind of ignited it and made it into like a reimagining rather than just a remake. That's the beginning of the story; that's what gets the plot started. And when she gets to New York, it becomes apparent that there's something else going on, and another reason she's been called back.
But the unfurling of this mystery is really what the film is about. And the first third of the movie is very much just introducing these characters, understanding the two different really contrasting worlds of India and New York, and the poverty and the affluence. And then the plot begins to kick into high gear. And what's so unusual is there's three big, big turns in this movie.
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And for me, sometimes if you have a very, very emotional movie, I think people think of it as not as entertaining: You know, it's like suffering. And in this movie you have the entertaining and the suffering. Freundlich: The preparation for it, and then the recovery, and then how you manage how the arguments went. The histories come up. And that was something that Julianne, who is a producer on the movie also, we talked a lot about that, that we love these kinds of movies where you really dig into the stuff of life.
You know, you have not only the difficulties but also what it's like to be at a wedding and the speeches and the food and the beauty of it and the anticipation.
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So we wanted to make sure that it held all of that stuff: the joy and the excitement of the texture of life, as well as these big, big kind of emotional realizations that that I think ends up being the heart of the movie. If you watch the trailer, it does reveal one of the secrets, which is that there's a connection between Michelle's character and Billy's character. Billy's character is married to Julianne in the movie.
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But so that does reveal that, but there's much more to come from that. There is. It will surprise you. So Billy, as he mentioned, you are coupled in the film — your character Oscar — with Julianne Moore, who is Bart's real-life wife and frequent collaborator.
And what about the role for you — other than you know, I think the inherent value of playing opposite Julianne as actors — grabbed you? I often don't get offered those kinds of parts. The parts I get, they're typically complex people who are shattered in some way or another, and either behave poorly or have to recover from behaving poorly. And Oscar seems like he's in pretty good shape, and he doesn't say a whole lot. He's a bit of a stoic and it seems like a great dad and a great husband and a contributing member of the community.
When you read that on the page, it seems so straightlaced.see
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I didn't have a way into it. It didn't seem that there was some kind of emotional connection that I could afford. And when Bart began talking to me about those as virtues, about how having Oscar in their lives has become such a foundation for everybody's sanity and clarity and love. And we can set that up in order to then undermine it.
That becomes a much more exciting thing.
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But on the page, it was hard at first for me to quite understand how Oscar was active in it. And sometimes as an actor you want to know, how is this character activated? What do they do in the film? Because it being reactive as an actor, is not always so much fun. You do it sometimes.
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Obviously you run from monsters, or you hide from weather. But the most fun thing is somebody who is in pursuit of something, and life offers a change or it doesn't offer a change, and then they have to manage the emotional consequences of that. So finding a story like this that Bart had navigated so interestingly with this new dynamic, this new power structure, I thought once he explained it to me in a way that I could understand it, because I obviously need some explaining, it became really intriguing to me.
Freundlich: Billy would say to me that he wished he could play the backstory, you know,? Because there's one very crucial moment that is a very active decision that his character has made in the past, that really sets forth this entire narrative. So I imagine that's hard. For me as a writer, it was exciting to imagine this thing that had happened, and I didn't ever write it, but for Billy as an actor, I guess what you were saying [was] I wished that I could play that. I wish you could show that. You've done a tremendous amount of stage and screen [work], and you choose these roles where men really wrestle with their choices, rather than just going for the big money roles.
I watched it again the other year. God, I love that movie. And Steve Prefontaine in "Without Limits. And whether it's a creative connection, where you can imagine that kind of world, or personal connection is totally irrelevant. But you have to be able to see yourself walking around in that person's shoes. And I was telling Bart, I think we were talking about this recently, when I can read a script and I start to drift off, and I imagine the character in space — not drift off as in I'm not thinking about the story anymore, but drift off because I've started to internalize parts of it — that's when I know I've got some kind of access into it.
And the truth is, I don't ever know when that's going to come. And sometimes you just have to work, so you make that access for whatever it is that you're doing, even if it hasn't caught you. Steve Prefontaine was such a fascinating figure to me because he's not the kind of athlete that I would have rooted for growing up. And so for me it was quite the opposite, it was that I didn't identify with him. So that's a connection.
I began, how does a person like that have that kind of confidence? How does a person like that go about their day and not feel flawed and distressed and filled with anxiety? How can they actually run out front in front of people and want to be seen? I feel so much time, I feel I want to recede. Even being an actor, it's a strange contradiction. I did a play recently, and I would run out of the theater afterwards.
I was just so filled with shame. I imagine as an actor, even when you are in a character, it is so difficult that afterwards you really feel the effect of that.