“Normally, I can’t stand sitting through a film because I’m terrified of screenings. I’m terrified of audiences,” Damien Chazelle tells me as we sat down in Beverly Hills recently to talk about his latest film, La La Land.
LA traffic, a ton of extras, dancing and singing catapult us into Chazelle’s La La Land, a modern-day musical that sees Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone singing and dancing around LA as Chazelle pays homage to the City of Angels and iconic musicals. “Musicals at their heart are a populist art form. I wanted this to play on the big screen in a way that you could share with a group of people.” He adds, “I really designed it for that experience.”
Before Chazelle had even started Whiplash, La La Land was in discussion. Focus Features had optioned the script in 2011, but it wasn’t meant to be. There was a reluctance to finance the original idea. “You know right now in Hollywood, anything original is viewed as suspect. It’s easier to do something we’ve seen before.” Chazelle adds, “I wanted my college roommate Justin Hurwitz to do the music.” Six years later, Chazelle managed to get La La Land off the ground, “and once we did it was a dream come true.” He says.
La La Land was filmed over 42 days in over 60 to 70 LA locations. It was a beast of a challenge. Chazelle says none of it would have been possible without the support of the La La Land film cast and crew. “I had a beast of an AD. I had an amazing crew. I had a cast who were willing to do the work.”
Watch our interview below:
Emma Stone :
La La Land is expected to land several new honors when the Oscar nominations are announced on January 24, including Best Picture, Best Director for Damien Chazelle, and Best Actress in a Lead Role for Emma Stone. I caught up with Stone recently to talk about playing Mia, an aspiring actress in the film who falls in love with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) an aspiring jazz musician.
Stone says when she met director, Damien Chazelle to talk about her role, “I had so many questions about the character, how he was going to shoot in technicolor. He had a lot of patience, he was so collaborative and so open to the process of nailing down the character.” Chazelle met Emma while she was performing on Broadway in Cabaret. “It was really helpful,” she says of her stage experience. It helped her prepare for the ballroom and tap-dancing scenes that she has to do in the film.
Watch our interview below:
Ryan Gosling :
I recently caught up with Ryan Gosling for very quick chat about Los Angeles and La La Land. In the film, Gosling plays Sebastian, an aspiring jazz musician in Damien Chazelle’s love song to the City of Angels.
Gosling recalls his first memory when he moved here. “It was a while ago. I was sixteen when I moved here. It seemed so big.” He says he’s been a fan of Chazelle since Whiplash. When he talked about La La Land, he says Chazelle told him how, “he didn’t want to make films that you would watch on your iPhone.”
Gosling also talks about Chazelle’s style in wanting to shoot the dance numbers in one take. Watch the interview below:
La La Land is on general release. The film is nominated for six Golden Globes. Check out Sasha’s posts for where La La Land will land with Oscar voters in her weekly predictions.