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Henry Poole Is Here' Interviews: Luke Wilson and Cast Jump In

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Aug 19, 2008 | 7:43am EDT

Director Mark Pellington first came across the script for Henry Poole Is Here back in 2003. Although he was touched by the story about a dying man who returns to his hometown for solace, he passed on the project. A year later, he changed his mind.

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Pellington says his wife passed away suddenly in 2004, leaving him a single dad to their 2 and-a-half year-old daughter. In an instant, he had much more in common with Henry Poole than he ever would have expected, “To be able to basically find a story where all the characters were dealing with loss or the possibility of loss--I felt comfortable in that world.”

A stylistic jump from his past films Mothman Prophecies and Arlington Road, fans can expect a more indie feel to the movie. Set in suburban California, the film follows a depressed man with reclusive tendencies who can’t avoid the outside world when his neighbor finds the face of Christ in a water stain on the side of his house.

Hollywood.com talked with Pellington, writer Albert Torres and stars Luke Wilson, Adriana Barraza, Radha Mitchell, and George Lopez to find out more about the film:

Mark Pellington on the theme of person loss in his films:

“Both Arlington Road and Mothman  are about widowers, which was ironic. I think the similarities, going back to my first movie, all of them were dealing centrally with male characters searching for answers to loss, kind of coming to terms with loss. Before that previously I probably connected more to the loss of my father and unanswered questions in those movies.”

Luke Wilson on miracles:

“I definitely believe in miracles, I don’t know about believing in the face [of Jesus on a wall] or something that specific. I like the idea of playing a guy who definitely doesn’t believe and is kind of forced through all these things that happen to think about it, because I know that happens to people either something good that happens or something bad that happens can change how somebody feels very quickly.” 

Albert Torres on his inspiration for the script:

“I grew up Catholic and heard about these kinds of things happening (faces appearing on objects) and how they effected people in certain communities and started to think about what kind of person, who would be the worst person for something like this to happen to and that was the starting point. It came at a time when…I didn’t really have a career in screenwriting at that point and I quit writing and then I got kind of depressed myself much like the character and realized that I needed to start writing, but write something I wanted to see versus something that I thought I could sell to somebody.”

George Lopez on finding a role outside of comedy:

"When the show was over I told CAA that I didn’t really care how big the parts were as long as the scripts were good…Then I got this script and Albert Torres wrote it…and it was magnificent. I just thought the script was so great and had so much heart. Movies had been done about visions and things, but this one the characters were so natural and powerful and it was something that no one would expect me to do. Sandra Bullock executive produced my show and after it was over she sent me an email and said; ‘Now you’ve got to do something that no one would ever expect you to do, you’ve got to do something completely unexpected’ and playing Father Salazar qualifies as that bit of advice."

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Radha Mitchell on why she was drawn to the film:

“I liked the sincerity of the story. I was actually impressed by Mark who kind of wears his heart on his sleeve unabashedly, I think he wanted to expose himself in that way in the movie and he wanted the actors to expose vulnerability to their characters and keep it very real and very simple and naturalstic. As much as there is a comedic tone to the story it is very engaging emotionally because it feels very real and I like that tone.” 

Adriana Barraza on finding happiness:

“I believe in miracles, but not only in catholic or religious miracles. I believe in miracles because life is a miracle itself. I survive two heart attacks, I survived many losses in my life and I survive loss of my faith and I recovered my faith. I believe really in miracles since I was Henry Poole years ago and I was walking in an airport. I was so sad and so depressed in that moment because it was really a horrible moment in my life and then…I looked up and then a woman that I don’t know, I didn’t know who is she, walk in front of me and smile at me. In that moment I thought, ‘Oh my God’ people smile.”

Radha Mitchell on her beliefs:

“I think there is a thirst in culture for some sort of spiritual sustenance and I think the movie kind of feeds that without preaching anything…I think the fact that it is the face of Jesus sort of suits the story and suits the street where the story is set. If it was in another country it would be the face of somebody else.” 

Mark Pellington on his style:

“Stylistically I felt like I had done in my videos – there was a greater range of kind of emotional and tonal choices in a lot of videos. In movies I had only done those two and my life is very different now then it was then so I was looking for something that showed the range of feelings I wanted to express.”

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George Lopez on spirituality:

“I found some spirituality later in life in not being healthy and being healthy. When I was going to have my surgery and you lay on the table and you don’t have anything on and there isn’t anything to really grab except for what you believe in, since that point I’ve become a little more connected to spirituality…[I had] kidney transplant three years ago, I’ve got a lot of medicine running through me but I’m good.” 

Mark Pellington on making the film:

“It was very healing and cathartic to be able to show up every day and then go through the process of editing to understand and it feels different now to watch it then it did at the editors assembly or when we showed it at Sundance. With some distance from it you can kind of let it go.”

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