At SXSW this past March, the Current sat down with another reporter — and said reporter’s cameraman — to three brief interviews with the director and leads of the enjoyable, if notably hit-and-miss, (500) Days of Summer, which chronicles the euphoria and pain of 20-something couple Tom and Summer’s up-and-down romance. Following are excerpts from those conversations.
MARC WEBB (director)
`The other reporter begins by asking whether the events of (500) Days are based on real life; is the film a documentary?`
You know, it’s funny: … Scott `Neustadter` and Michael `Weber`, who wrote the movie, I mean, a lot of it literally happened to ’em — there’re scenes ... that are, uh, very close to transcriptions of actual events. …
So there’ll be women across the country going, “Wait a second” —
`At the film’s beginning, an onscreen message suggests not-so-arcanely that the heartbreak Tom suffers may be inspired by one (or both?) of the writers’ experience(s) with a girl named Jenny Beckman. The other reporter refers to this message.`
Oh — Jenny Beckman. … Everybody’s been Jenny Beckman, at one point or another.
“Jenny Beckman-ed?” Did you just use it as a verb? Like, “Everybody’s been Jenny Beckman-ed”?
Oh, now, that’s actually good. I like that. There was somebody at Sundance, I saw somebody had a shirt that said, “I am Jenny Beckman.” Which I thought was cool.
Yeah. We actually had to get that name … There’s, like, rules about ... name usage, and there has to be, like, either no one named Jenny Beckman or, like, 150 people named Jenny Beckman. … And, and there are people on Facebook named Jenny Beckman that, you know, we’ll see what happens.
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT (Tom)
You’ve done a lot of roles where these guys have kind of serious personality issues —
`chuckles` Uh huh.
— and this guy’s kind of like a normal guy, so how do you approach that and make him interesting, and make him a real person … ?
... I think it’s just being honest. ... And working with Zooey makes it really easy. She’s — there’s not a fake bone in her body. ... She doesn’t do that. ... `It’s different from` a movie like Stop-Loss or The Lookout, where I’ve never been shot at, you know, I’ve never been in a life-changing car accident before. But I have been broken-hearted. …
`The other reporter asks if Gordon-Levitt had a good time singing karaoke in the film.`
Yeah. `laughter` I did. I had a good time singing. Yeah. A good time dancing.
Yeah, that was awesome, man! … `The synchronized-dance-sequence scene is` worth the price of admission right there.
… That was one of my favorite days of my whole life. It really was, you know. I grew up watching Thriller and Moonwalker. You know, like, to be that guy, with all the dancers behind you — I never thought I’d get to be that guy. … Really fun.
ZOOEY DESCHANEL (Summer)
We all kinda grew up seeing those movies where there’s this, like, regular guy or girl —
— kinda going after this other guy or girl who seems ideal or unattainable in some way —
— and we do get to know Summer … we understand her, but, at the same time … there’s still kind of that construction. Does … it feel weird kinda going, “Oh, hey. In this world, I’m sort of that unattainable” —
— guy or girl? Or did you not feel that way?
Well, no ... I mainly just tried to play her as somebody who is `clears throat` has a lot of grace, and, um, and effortlessness and subtlety to the way that she approaches things, and so things sort of come to her. I mean, there are people who are just exceptionally sort of lucky. I thought of her more like that than, you know, his ideal. ... I tried to approach her as I would any character, you know. With sincerity and truth.