Q & A With Debra Granik, Director
1. What drew you to want to adapt WINTER'S BONE and direct it as a film?
I read WINTER'S BONE in one sitting. I had not done that with any book in a long time. I wanted to see how this girl, Ree, was going to survive. It felt like an old fashioned type of tale, with a character I couldn't help but root for, and with an atmosphere my mind was actively trying to conjure. It also felt fresh in that I do not often get a chance to imagine life like Ree's, whose circumstances lie outside the confines of my own.
2. How did you work with the Author, Daniel Woodrell, in the making of this movie?
To launch this project, Anne Rosellini, the producer, and I met with Daniel Woodrell in his home base in Southern Missouri and embarked on our first scout with him. We looked at creeks, caves, and homes of all kinds. We photographed yards, roads, and woods. Katie Woodrell, Daniel's wife, arranged for us to meet singers, storytellers, folklorists, and all manner of scholars and practitioners steeped in Ozark culture--past and present. Also, we had an informative and heartbreaking discussion with the sheriff about what the meth problem has been like over the last two decades. After this visit, we were very enthused. We had also learned that to move forward we would need a guide, a local person who could carefully and respectfully introduce us to a community that might, over time, be persuaded to work with us.
3. Tell us about working with Jennifer Lawrence.
Jen took this role into her heart and worked very hard to enter Ree's world. She used what she's got from her Kentucky roots--family that could help her with hunting, wood chopping, and other skills she wanted to have for the shoot. And to my ear, she already had a beautiful way of pronouncing American English that seemed right for Ree. Though the script had some very foreign phrases for us, Jen was familiar with some of them, having heard similar phrasing growing up. When she arrived in Missouri before the shoot, she worked closely with the life models and the family on whose property we shot the film. She learned how to operate the equipment, learned all the dog's names, and bonded with their children. In her role, she plays an older sister to a boy and a girl. Jen developed her own way of working with the kids. She made things real for them. She could also improvise and rehearse with them to put them at ease. Jen is very invested in working with her fellow actors and crew, which means she is always learning, absorbing, and challenging herself. I feel very lucky that we had the chance to make this film together.
4. How do you see Ree as a character?
Ree is focused on her commitment to see her brother and sister through their childhoods. She is willing to fight to keep her family from falling apart. I see her as a lioness trying to protect her pride. She is also a teenager who experiences helpless feelings when adults around her make deadly choices, and are drawn down into a way of life that destroys them. She can't do much to get her dad out of the meth world or help her uncle with his chemical dependency and nihilism, yet she still cares about them. That is wrenching for any young person. The only thing left for her is to try to be different.
Like many a movie hero, Ree must struggle. We don't get to see much of her teenage side. We never really get to see her have a good time with her friend Gail or flirt with boys. Throughout the story she is single-minded in what she needs to do. The search for her father is all-consuming. There is a deadline. In this heightened context, we see that Ree does not take "no" for an answer. In matters of justice, I love characters who don't take no. I want to know how they get that resolve. We may not know what fuels Ree, but we want to witness a girl who shows this much strength of character. Heroes are often terse and aloof, and I guess that's wh
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