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In Netflix’s new movie Lou, the rugged natural side of Vancouver Island’s west coast looms large, underlining every part of the story about two different but fierce women who are forced to join forces to rescue a young boy. kidnapped.
Director Anna Foerster knew from her first reading of Lou’s script that the power of the natural world was a very important character in this action/drama film starring Academy Award winner Allison Janney (I, Tonya) and nominee to Emmy (Lovecraft Country) Jurnee Smollett.
In this case, that weather is courtesy of the Ucluelet area that represents Orcas Island, the largest of Washington state’s San Juan Islands. There were no studio sessions with actors in front of blue screens while someone off camera splashed water on them.
“It was a big thing for me. I didn’t want this to feel fake. I didn’t want this to feel polished,” Foerster said recently via Zoom from Los Angeles. “I’m a pretty outdoor person myself, so I know all too well how it feels if you’re really at the mercy of an unforgiving and uncaring nature. That was very important to me as part of the telling of this story to make it as realistic and realistic as possible.”
The film is about Lou (Janney), a difficult and isolated woman who believes she has put her dangerous past behind her only to see her untrammeled existence in a small town shattered when a frantic and desperate mother (Smollett) recruits her. to help save her little daughter from a kidnapper.
The women head into the rugged forest together as a massive storm rages and pummels them at every turn, testing their strength as they fight to save the child and weather big, bad secrets from their past.
“I thought this was an amazing opportunity to tell the reflection of the storm that’s going on outside, that they have to face and go through, and the storm that’s going on inside,” Foerster said. “That was really convincing to me.”
What was also compelling for Foerster was casting Janney, now in her early sixties, as a tough as hell woman who takes no prisoners.
“No, especially at my age,” Janney said via Zoom when asked if she’s seen other scripts featuring characters like Lou. “I couldn’t believe when this script came to me; It’s what I always wanted to do, this genre. I thought he had probably aged because of it. But I’m happy that I was able to show that I haven’t and I want to do more.”
The movie required a lot of physicality as it is packed with some epic fight scenes. While it was hard work, Janney happily found that her athletic background in things like figure skating and dance gave her a useful muscle memory.
“That’s what I liked the most, it was like learning another dance,” Janney said of the fight choreography. “Daniel Bernhardt is our fight choreographer. I worked with him three hours a day. I couldn’t have imagined doing that. I work out maybe an hour a week in my real life.
“I loved the challenge. I felt so prepared when I walked onto the set to shoot those fight scenes. I was like, ‘let’s do it, let’s do it again’. It was so much fun because I knew exactly where to go. We had worked it out so specifically, every move.”
Lou, Janney’s character, is one of those people of few words. A raised eyebrow, a tilted chin, and a steely gaze is her curmudgeonly preferred mode of communication.
“It was fun being someone who didn’t say much, just growl. I loved. Most of the time was spent cutting out Lou’s dialogue. Less is more with Lou. Let’s make him look at someone and kill them with a look,” Janney said, and she agreed that Lou was a far cry from his beloved CJ Cregg talkative character of the wonderfully verbose West Wing. “As actors, we love being able to switch things up in different roles.”
Smollett, who was on the same Zoom interview with Janney, agreed along with his film partner, adding that this footage was unique for many reasons, not least because bear sightings (one) outnumbered glam squad sightings. (zero).
“It’s really nice to play characters where you don’t have to worry about makeup. It’s just, ‘Hey, let’s get some mud on,’” Smollett said when Janney offered an enthusiastic “amen”.
Once the soggy bud was wrapped up, Smollett said the first thing he remembers doing was taking a long, hot shower.
Janney agreed that the need to warm up and wash was important.
“I kept finding dirt and mud coming out of my ears even months later. It got to a lot of places,” Janney said, knowingly nodding to a laughing Smollett.
While Janney was able to shake off the mud and dirt of the rugged West Coast world, he said he couldn’t shake the impression the area left on him after last summer’s shoot.
“I fell in love with Vancouver and Vancouver Island,” Janney said. “I just think it’s the most magical place on the planet. It was absolutely beautiful. I’m going to go back there and sit on those beaches and look at rocks all day.”
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