Interview with Gabriel
What is ďJindabyneĒ about?
The story is about four men who come upon the body
of a woman in the river and, not out of any sense
of badness or lack of feeling, decide to leave the
body in the river and not report it to the police
until they get back from their fishing trip. Like
many situations that we find ourselves in, in life,
weíre unaware of the consequences of our actions
until those consequences come home to visit us in
all kinds of unexpected ways. So the film is really
about how this incident haunts these men and the
lives of the people who are closest to them.
Tell us about Stewart, the character you
Stewart is a working-class, ordinary man who owns
a garage. He used to be a rally driver and he has
given up that life to become settled in this community.
Not a simple man, but a man who lives a pretty simple
predictable life up until this moment. As a result
of this incident heís forced to examine who he really
is morally, emotionally, and socially. Stewart and
Claire have had their troubles like any couple in
a long- term relationship. They love each other
but as a result of this incident theyíre forced
to examine not just who they are individually but
who they are as a couple.
What was it that made you want to do this
I met Ray Lawrence in New York. When we met he
talked about how he saw the film as a ghost story,
the idea that this incident thatís taken place haunted
the lives not just of the men who it happened to,
but all the people on the periphery by implication.
It sounded intriguing. Iíd seen ďLantanaĒ and I
knew that he would make something really interesting.
This is a film that makes you think about your life.
I remember Ray saying to me, ĎI think you should
do this film. It would be really nice if you came
to Australia and did it. It would be a work experience
but I think it would be an important spiritual experience
for you.í That is what stuck with me. Nobody has
ever said that to me before as a reason to do a
What has it been like working with Ray
Lawrence and his one-take process?
This is the least conventional film I think I have
ever done and it is letting go of all the things
that you can usually rely on. The whole thing is
about letting go. Itís a scary sort of process for
most actors. All the things that actors like to
depend on, like make-up and lighting and so forth,
the security and comfort of eight or ten takes,
thatís all gone. Every actor is different. Some
actors get it on the first take, others, you know,
are just warming up after take five or six or ten
maybe, but you donít have that security. It allows
you an incredible freedom and, ultimately, itís
your responsibility. You can always ask for another
take. Ray doesnít give much direction. He doesnít
even say action. Iíve never worked with a director
who never said action before, and he usually talks
about the scene after itís over. So, yes, itís scary.
Ray will say heís not directing the film, that heís
trying to contain whatís happened, but I think that
everything, everything, in a way, comes from his
vision. Ray thinks unlike any other director Iíve
ever worked with, he shoots like no director Iíve
ever worked with and his vision is unique to him.
Does this affect the way you approach your
In a more conventional approach to making a film,
it is like climbing a rock, you have more places
to grab hold of. Here you donít seem to have any
places to grab hold of. I think that the closer
I moved to thinking about the character as myself,
the more sure the journey felt. When Stewart and
his friends commit this transgression they donít
even know they are doing it. They do this thing,
they actually think they are doing something right,
by tying up the body and leaving it in the water,
but it is after they get back they realise what
they have done. That has happened to me in my life.
I have done something and didnít think about the
consequences of it and sometime later I realise,
how could I have done that? What did I do? It is
something you never forget.
What do you think people will take from
Everybody, I think, comes to a different conclusion.
It brings up all kinds of questions about morality
and, in Stewartís case, his marriage, and what is
responsible behaviour. Guilt, regret, community,
ritual, marriage, sex, love, friendship between
men, friendship between women, all those issues
to a greater or lesser extent are raised. The audienceís
reaction to it will be complex. On the one hand
you have people who will disagree with the actions
of the men. On the other, people will understand
it. Hopefully people will identify with the reality
of the dilemma that these people are forced to confront.
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