Interview: Actor Luke Kirby talks ‘Take This Waltz’

A scene from Sarah Polley's 'Take This Waltz'. Courtesy Mongrel Media.

Sandwiched between Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in Take This Waltz is Luke Kirby, a rising star who, in addition to working with Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, has starred opposite Lindsay Lohan in Labor Pains, Chloë Sevigny in Shattered Glass and Samuel L. Jackson in Fury. We caught up with Luke on the eve of the film’s UK DVD release to talk rickshaws, skateboarding and shooting sex scenes with Michelle Williams.

GFW: Could you relate to your character, Daniel, in the love triangle?

Luke Kirby: Um, [laughs] I have certainly felt at times in my life that the universe has conspired to push me towards someone, and as soon as that’s unleashed, it cannot be stopped. I don’t know that that’s what’s happening here but I know the feeling.

How was it lugging that rickshaw around? It looked quite tough with Seth Rogen and Michelle in the back.

It’s not so bad when there’s nobody in it; and then it gets a little harder with one person in. With two it becomes very hard and you really have to call upon your physical strength.

You must’ve had to do a few takes, right?

We were chasing the light so we didn’t have to do it for too long but we were definitely in a hurry to get as many shots of Toronto at sundown as we could. I remember requiring as many electrolytes as I could get my hands on in-between takes. But you know, I was up for the challenge.

Were you a fan of Michelle before the film? How was it working with her?

Of course I‘d known her work since high school because I grew up in the ‘90s and I occasionally flipped the channel to Dawson’s Creek, and I knew her from her work in Halloween H2O [laughs]. And then I kind of watched her grow into this really substantive actor over the years. Being able to meet her, I was happy to find out that she’s an incredibly available actor, very present, very connected and has a great sense of humour.

Did you have any flashbacks to Dawson’s Creek when you were with her?

It came up a bit, you know, she certainly had nothing but fond memories of that, I guess. The day we finished, after we all said our goodbyes, I did turn the TV on and Dawson’s Creek was on, so we sat back and enjoyed that for a bit.

A scene from Sarah Polley's 'Take This Waltz'. Courtesy Mongrel Media.

The sex scene is one of the most memorable of recent times (the way it’s shot). How long did it take to shoot and how was it for both of you?

We shot it in a day and… one of the gifts of the shoot was that we were able to shoot a lot of it chronologically so we were kind of winding down when we did that scene, so it kind of worked as a nice last dance for Margot and Daniel.

What was the atmosphere like on set?

I think with those things there’s always a kind of a mild discomfort at the beginning of the day, a lot of insecurities and a few people are probably questioning why they ever chose this profession in the first place and whether or not you can even call it a profession in these circumstances [laughs]. If you can have a laugh through it all it probably makes it a little more enjoyable, and I think we were able to do that. On that day we were moving through a whole year of their relationship, and the quickening of that I found a little depressing. From the initial burst of skin on skin to the beginnings of finding the mundane in what was once a field of possibility.

What kind of directions did Sarah Polley give you? Was she very particular about certain things?

For the most part what Sarah was best at was kind of keeping her distance. She maintained a confidence and a cool throughout the shoot that I was really bewildered by because a director has so much on their plate and she never brought any of that stress into our circle, and I think it had a lot to do with her experience with directors – she’s an actor herself.

How was it going from Labor Pains, with Lindsay Lohan, to this? Was it a big contrast?

Yeah, well it was everything. I think the gift with Take This Waltz was the time we were given. Usually on a shoot of that scale you get about five weeks and generally not a lot of time for rehearsal. And because of stars aligning and because Sarah’s so organised and surrounds herself with those kinds of people, we knew for a long time that it was gonna happen. So we had months to prepare away from everyone and then we had three weeks together to create an atmosphere that really helped generate a buzz amongst ourselves.

A scene from Sarah Polley's 'Take This Waltz'. Courtesy Mongrel Media.

What interests do you have outside of acting?

I’m looking for some, if you have any recommendations? I think that this is a business where one is given a great deal of down time and if you’re not careful you can spend that time twiddling your thumbs, so I look for things, I try to take classes and keep myself engaged in a variety of things.

So what classes have you taken?

I took some painting classes [laughs].

And your character in the film paints!

That’s true; it was actually after, though. Something in Daniel may have piqued my interest in watercolour [laughs]. It was amazing to find myself in a room taking that amount of care to just put a little bit of colour on a piece of paper. I recommend it. Do you have any hobbies?

Me? Yeah, I used to paint actually. I make music sometimes, I skateboard…

Yeah, yeah, skateboard! I still have my skateboard but I put the fat wheels on it, so I can’t do tricks anymore but I can get a nice, smooth ride.

What’s next for you?

Right now I have a TV series coming out in February/March called Rectify and it will air on the Sundance Channel. It’s six episodes that follow a man who’s been released from death row in a small town in Georgia, after 19 years. I play his lawyer.

Take This Waltz is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, and Netflix in select countries.

Written by Oliver Lunn. Follow Oliver on Twitter: @OliverLunn.

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