Set Visit Report: Cast and Crew Talk Thomas Dekker’s Jack Goes Home

Having this cast and crew is quite a gift. Producer Scott Levenson explains, “We were just [so fortunate] to have this unique crew base. Danica Vallone, our production designer, was Clive Barker’s creative director—still is, on and off.  To have all these unique people who are so passionate about this thing…” Levine adds, “ I think it’s been a really perfect combination of cast and crew. You don’t typically see—without giving the budget away—you don’t typically see this kind of cast or this caliber of crew on this size movie. To have Britt Robertson and Nikki Reed, Rory Culkin, Daveigh Chase, Lin Shaye—especially Lin, straight off of Insidious 3.”

Lin Shaye speaks to the script. “The script is really—it’s a torturous story of a man’s tortured journey into madness, but the madness is fueled by ordinary needs that we all have, which is people want love, and the denial of that, or the question that you had that in your life and it was very painful. By questioning what he doesn’t have in his life, and questioning the mysteries of his family, I think no matter how well-adjusted a family is, if you really ask a lot of questions, unless you don’t acknowledge them, there are deep stories and secrets and things that people don’t reveal to themselves, let alone to their own family, and I think Jack, he’s really trying to figure out his own life through the lack of what he got as a young boy. He’s had terrible things happen to him that he was never told or it was never acknowledged. He’s facing the reality of his own life, really.”

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Teresa was the part she insisted to play. “There was another role that they were sort of interested in [me playing] before, and I was busy and said I didn’t [have time]—then I read the script and thought, ‘Who’s playing the mother?!’ [Laughs.] So we kind of planted that seed, and gratefully it worked out in my behalf. I’m really excited to play this character.  I play Jack’s mother, who is a Harvard graduate and a concert violinist. She’s upscale in that way, whether she was born into that or earned it is kind of my own personal work, and they think they’re protecting their son from the truth, but basically they’re hurting him by not revealing to him what really is wrong with him and what has gone wrong for him. So she’s a very complex character. She’s also an alcoholic and knows of abuse that occurred, without revealing it to the person it occurred to, and so it’s really a family full of secrets, and Jack hammers away until he tries to get his own answers, and I don’t want to tell the twists and turns of the story because it’s got a wonderful revelation that comes to both him and the audience throughout the storytelling of the film.”

Lin also spoke to the purpose and potential of using genre as a framework for storytelling. “I think people don’t acknowledge their own horror stories very often because we’re trained to sweep that stuff under the rug so you can function in the real world, and there’s something fascinating about visiting both your own personal demons and story demons and putting it out there for people to experience, especially in film, together in a community. Things are safer when you’re in a community; people feel that way anyway. Are they really safer? No. But they feel that they are so I think it serves that purpose.”

It is also therapy. “It is his [Thomas’] therapy, and I think, hopefully through my understanding of the character, I actually shed light on parts of his own life that he maybe never thought about, which is a very fascinating idea, that even though I’m playing a character that he’s written and that he knows the elements of, hopefully through my understanding of the character, maybe I teach him to understand his mother better, and her dilemma, because she had one too.”

Rory Culkin plays her son, Jack, who also felt ignited by the role. “He sort of… there are times when he sort of needs to guide me, and then there are times when he just fuckin’ unleashes me, you know what I mean? Like earlier today, he was—there was one scene where he was slapping me right before, over and over— and then today, he asked me to slap him because I’m finally being aggressive; I’m not taking it anymore. So earlier today it was just like, ‘Slap me! Slap me!’ Left—Right—Left—Right!’ And then I kept doing it until he told me to stop—yeah, so I beat him up before a take, and that was sort of special. Yeah.” And how did she approach the part? “For me, it’s about not pushing it too far in any direction. There’s so many things I don’t want to be—I don’t want to be whining, I don’t want to be—I’m not sure what I want to be, but I know what I don’t want to be. It seems to be working. I hadn’t even thought of what I’m saying.”

And though all this darkness, Dekker’s focus is one of kindness. “That’s my key thing… my passion and respect for the genre is precisely why I think I can get away with a film that’s challenging and that’s probing. I’m not trying to be cruel to my audience; I’m actually saying, ‘Go with me on this [journey], and hopefully you’ll come out the other side rattled in a really good way.’”

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Blending elements of family drama and horror films, Jack Goes Home follows Jack, an educated and well versed magazine editor living in Los Angeles. He is mid 20s, engaged, and expecting his first child.  Grappling with the natural release of his childhood and the promise of his forthcoming adulthood, he is hit hard by the news of his father’s death.  In a violent and horrific car crash, his father has perished while his mother has survived.  He returns to his hometown of Denver, Colorado, to nurse his mother through her physical and emotional injuries.  During his stay at home, he uncovers long buried secrets and lies within his family history, his parents, his friends, and his very identity.  Jack’s journey to the truth is fueled by madness, sexuality, hauntings, and violence.  For Jack there truly is NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

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jackgoeshome - Set Visit Report: Cast and Crew Talk Thomas Dekker's Jack Goes Home

Written by Heather Buckley


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