With just a few days to go before the release of David Mackenzie's Spread, I have some of the press material for the movie, including great new comments from stars Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche and more on their new film. While the film has just screened recently in the Hampton and in NYC, you can also see brand new clip on Hulu (boots in the bed lol) plus this interview with Ashton. Best part: I have some really cool broll and behind the scenes looks of the making of Spread, including footage of David Mackenzie at work YAY! I LOVE these things, so grateful they make this footage available to us woot!
Here is just one of the clips featuring that well publicized clip of Ashton picking up Anne's character at the bar-sooo cool to see how they filmed that and god bless that camera man on the steady cam or whatever eeeep if he fell!; the other also here including loads of David, plus Ashton in the pool (what a gorgeous home they filmed at too!). In terms of the press material, included below are comments on the sexuality contained in the film, and working with Sigmas great director David Mackenzie.
For the actors in Spread, starring in the film meant a chance to explore some fascinating characters. To join the cast meant diving into their roles head-on and explore a realistic, more intense side of modern day romantic and sexual challenges. It was an actors’ dream, and the cast relished the opportunity.
Ashton Kutcher plays Nikki, the film’s charming but conflicted lead. In discussing his character and his motivations, Kutcher says, “I’m playing an ego booster, basically. Nikki is a guy searching for love in all the wrong ways. When he finally finds it, all the wrong ways in which he tried to find it come back to haunt him.”
Describing why he felt an immediate connection with Nikki, Kutcher says it was partly because he himself understood much of what Nikki was going through. “I understood the pain of the character,” he says. “I understood what he was ultimately seeking. I played ‘the game’ for long enough to know it doesn’t end well. The only way to win is through compassion and love, and trying to find the way to give to someone in the greatest way you possibly can.”
Kutcher also felt energized at the thought of playing a kind of role he hadn’t done yet. “It’s fun to dive into a character,” he says. “A lot of movies I get asked to do, I’m asked to play myself, or a character I’ve already played. Having the liberty to create a new kind of role is refreshing, liberating, and fun.”
Having British director David Mackenzie at the helm was another new experience for Kutcher. Kutcher found there were some differences working with Mackenzie when compared to some of the American directors with whom he’s collaborated. “English directors come in with an expectation that you’re going to deliver. When you do, you’re doing your job. And when you don’t, you’re failing,” he laughs. However, Mackenzie’s style energized his own performance. “I always knew when David wasn’t happy, but I never knew when he was happy, which was fantastic – it helped drive me,” he says.
In preparation for the film, Kutcher did a lot of character work, building a profile for Nikki and making sure he knew the character backwards and forwards. He says, “I found a voice for him, a posture and a truth for him so that once we were shooting, if things didn’t go the way I thought they’d go, I’d be able to handle it in character as Nikki.”
At the opening of the film, Nikki is a man who lives as he likes by finding women to fall in love with that will take care of him, financially and sexually. It’s the actual emotionality of a relationship Nikki doesn’t much concern himself with. “Nikki is a guy that really doesn’t know about compassion,” says Kutcher. “He’s a guy that doesn’t know about being there for someone, and as the film progresses he’s having to learn the lessons of that kind of life through his mistakes and through hard knocks.
“Nikki targets women that are caretakers,” he continues. “Women that are going to feed him and support him and be there for him. He does as little as he possibly can, but enough for them to buy into that fantasy for awhile.”
Sprinkled with comedy, drama, and true-to-life relationship scenarios, Spread is full of sex as well – lots of it – and the couplings are portrayed more realistically than in most mainstream movies. To ground the characters’ relationships in reality, the filmmakers wanted to portray the sex between them as realistically as possible – which meant Kutcher would have to be completely naked for many of his scenes. It was something he wasn’t initially prepared for.
“The sexual content in the film was really aggressive at times,” Kutcher says. “I have my own insecurities about my body. I’m from the Midwest, I’m from a Catholic family and a relatively conservative environment, so for me to be that artistically liberal and free was really challenging. It got more comfortable as I did it, but it gave me a lot of respect and reverence for people who’ve done it before me. The courage it takes to lay your sexuality and sensuality all the way out there scares me.”
Just as Kutcher found himself unclothed on set, Heche had to be willing to go places she hadn’t gone. “It’s been a trippy, trippy, naked ride,” she laughs. “I certainly can say I’ve gone further in this movie than I ever have before. Why didn’t I do this when I was twenty-two?”
What made such bravery possible for Heche, though, was that she didn’t find the film’s sexual situations gratuitous – the sexual situations and their necessity to the script are what made her feel fine about portraying them. “Adult lives are sexual lives,” she says. “We’re given these films all the time where people aren’t really talking truthfully about what goes on in people’s sex lives. You get these scenes where people come together and they kiss and fall down on a bed, and then we’re supposed to imagine what’s going on. But people’s sex lives are extreme. I certainly haven’t seen a truthful portrayal of an adult sex life in a film in awhile, and it’s bold to be able to do that. It may be uncomfortable, it may be sexy, it may be heartbreaking. Maybe disturbing. But true stuff.”
For her part, when commenting on the sexuality of the film, Levieva says, “The sexual part of it was always very real and important in telling the story. There is a lot of sexuality in the movie and a lot of people having sex, but it’s necessary to the script.”
As for her feelings on having to shed her clothes in the film, just like Kutcher and Heche, Levieva says, “I’d never done nudity in a movie.” And how did she get over her nerves? “Honestly, I just thought about the people I was going to be working with. I really respect David, and I was really excited to work with Ashton. It was unreal – very comfortable and everyone’s just been so supportive and making sure I was okay with it.”
“We’re just being truthful in those scenes, and these people are in love,” she laughs. “Things happen when you’re in love.”
With a story as much about image, wealth, and artifice as it is about attraction, sex, and romance, there’s only one place the film could be set: Los Angeles. L.A. serves as a character unto its own in the film, the perfect place for an iconic look at the lure of sex, money, and access that Hollywood offers to its beautiful residents.
Los Angeles is often the customary site for mythmaking in the American cultural iconography, and with good reason. The city provides slick and luxurious home settings as well as thumping nightlife backdrops for Nikki’s high times. It also has glimpses of seedy, fleabag motels and waiting-for-dreams-to-come-true apartment crash pads for when Nikki has nowhere else to turn. In his Spread adventure, Nikki runs the gambit of Hollywood dreams and nightmares.
When asked why he feels L.A. was such an appropriate place for Spread’s story to unfold, Kutcher says, “I think Los Angeles is a place that trades on cosmetic effect. It's a place where people that look a certain way have a wealthier lifestyle with more access, just based on physical appearance. We’re capturing in the film a place where people are just trading on their looks, and a dark underbelly of reality that really exists.”
Levieva agrees. “I think it’s a very L.A. story,” she says. “All the characters in it exist, especially in L.A. And we filmed in all the real locations, which was great because we really got to explore L.A. From the wardrobe to the characters and the locations, it’s very L.A.-based and very real.”
DAVID MACKENZIE (DIRECTOR) is one of Scotland's leading film directors. David Mackenzie started his film career making shorts. He first won an award for “California Sunshine” (1997), a 20-minute film about a pair of small-time drug dealers that starred his younger brother, actor Alastair Mackenzie. In 1999, he won an Audience Award at the Brest European Short Film Festival for Marcie's Dowry. In 2000, he placed second for Best Short Film at the Dresden Film Festival for Somersault (1999). Having completed nine shorts and a documentary, Mackenzie's first feature length film was the low budget The Last Great Wilderness (2002), which he co-wrote with his brother Michael Tait. But David didn't gain international attention until he wrote and directed Young Adam (2003), based on the 1954 novel by Alexander Trocchi starring Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton. He won a Scottish BAFTA for Best Director, as well as awards at Edinburgh and the London Critics Circle. Mackenzie went on to direct Asylum, starring Natasha Richardson, followed by Hallam Foe (2007) starring Jamie Bell which Mackenzie co-wrote for the screen, directed, and produced. The film went on to win awards at the Berlin Film Festival.