Interview: Beth Ditto On Her Acting Debut In Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot
Gus Van Sant reunites with Joaquin Phoenix in latest movie Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot. The film is an adaptation of John Callahan’s memoir and follows Callahan (Phoenix) as he faces a journey of recovery after a car crash leaves him disabled. Callahan, who has been battling addiction, uses humor to overcome the obstacles.
Along the way, he meets Reba played by Beth Ditto. Reba is the superb southern rebel that he meets in an AA meeting who helps Callahan see things from a different point of view.
I had a brief catch up with Ditto to talk about her first bigscreen outing.
I love Reba in this. From that opening, it’s quite a scene hearing her story in that meeting. How did this happen for you?
Well, I was finishing the record and was in LA. I had done some readings for Francine Maisler, our casting director. She sent me an email saying, “There’s this to do.” It was the next day and thought, “Shit, I don’t have time to do this. I’m going to be working until late.” It was the last day of recording. I threw on a dress, grabbed the script and I walked in.
One of the stories is that my manager was in the lobby of the hotel where we were reading for it and Gwendoline Christie was in the down elevator and I was going up. That made me think, “I’m definitely not getting it now.”
I tried for it and read it. I felt like I knew who she was. They asked me to tell some stories and then I was told I got the part. I felt I got lucky that the director was Gus Van Sant.
Here we are.
Reba is great to watch with all she says and does throughout the film. What struck you about her?
It was the things she said such as when she says, she has cancer of the heart. One of my aunts that I felt Reba was like had actually died when she was 47 of lung cancer and so I felt there was something about that that I was familiar with.
I remember saying to my mother when I was young, “We’re just white trash.” She said, “You might be white trash but I am not.” I can see my mom saying that line and not being phased at all.
That’s the part I felt my mind was connected to.
Her character is really drawn out in the movie and I really enjoyed that. What did Gus tell you about the part?
I think my stories made her come to life. Gus told me to do whatever I wanted. He wanted me to tell the titty rock story so I did and that was me telling a story. He wanted it to be as natural as possible. The truth is that I’m not a very refined person so I don’t think it was a far cry to play an unrefined, rough around the edges girl.
Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot is released on July 13.