Making The Vow Real
Principal photography on The Vow began an all-location shoot in August, 2010, in
Toronto, Canada. Because the film is set in Chicago, the last four days in
October were shot there for verisimilitude, including landmark locations.
Sucsy called on his friend and Grey Gardens production designer Kalina Ivanov to
bring her considerable talent and experience to creating the look of every
unique set in the film as well as Paige's artwork.
Ivanov responded to the script immediately: "I loved the opportunity of having
to create these people's lives from scratch and then having to create a whole
new world for them of where one of them is comfortable and the other one knows
nothing about it. It presented a great opportunity to give Paige's character a
lot of clues about her past life and to give Leo the opportunity to use these
clues in trying to rekindle their love. So every environment I created for those
characters had to serve a dual purpose: to not just to be their environment, but
also to give you the clue of what their life was like before as a couple."
Kalina and Michael first met at her interview for Grey Gardens and found that
they have a very similar approach to art. "We both think very conceptually, and
we both feel and think through images, so the first thing I did after I read The
Vow was to find an image of a suzannie, which is a multi-colored hand sewn
bedspread from Afghanistan, which I felt spoke of the look I wanted to create
for this show."
As for the art, believes Ivanov, "Each of Paige's sculptures represent a time in
her life, and the fact that she was an artist was extremely appealing to me as a
designer. And the fact that she forgets how she was an artist, that her art is
interrupted and she has to find her core as an artist again, presented itself as
a very interesting challenge for me as a designer."
Tatum gives Ivanov and Sucsy credit for the "incredibly expressive sculptures
that are beautiful but have a dark edge to them that show her pain."
In terms of the locations, Chicago and Toronto do look in many ways alike says
Ivanov: "They are both towns from the same era and they're both on lakes, so the
architectural vernacular isn't that different."
As for working with director Michael Sucsy, Rachel McAdams smiles. "Michael
makes everything fun," she notes. "He set the tone from the beginning that if
nothing else we were just going to have a great time and hopefully, the rest
would work out. I love that he's very much about the process and not the end
result, which of course I know is always in the back of his mind, but it's the
journey for him, which is lovely."
Involved in every aspect of making the film, Sucsy was even there for Rachel's
hair consultations, wardrobe fittings and the art. "Michael is just so much a
part of it all! He's collaborative and totally open to new ideas." Rachel
recounts a moment when Michael told her that he believed in the love story and
had a feeling in his solar plexus when he thought about her and Channing
together. "I've never heard about the solar plexus being an intuitive place on
the body, but it is for him, and it was just so sweet. Yeah, he's just been a
lovely support throughout," says McAdams.
Channing Tatum credits Michael Sucsy with being able to bring the best out in
his talent. "I think Michael is a sculptor in a way," says Tatum. "He has a real
sense of how he wants things, and that's an awesome safety net for an actor.
It's especially impressive when you remember that this is only his second
movie!" The actor continues to sing Sucsy's praises: "Michael loves the written
word and has a real sense of reality and language that I think helps him help us
walk the line between over the top schmaltzy and authentic. It's so helpful to
be able to trust that in a director and not be afraid to go too far, not be
afraid to undersell it and really just trust that he's going to go and put all
the places in and really ride the wave of a really good rollercoaster of
For Kim Carpenter, the movie inspired by their remarkable love story may be the
tale of a newly imagined screen couple, but watching it he couldn't help
recognizing the emotional truth of what he'd gone through in real life. In
particular, he cites the uncanny acting choice Tatum made when Leo first learns
that Paige doesn't remember him. "He went outside and slid down the side of a
[vending] machine," notes Carpenter. "It's a really powerful moment in the
movie. Well, ironically, once I discovered my wife didn't recognize me, I went
outside the door and slid down the wall and buried my head between my legs.
Things like that. The gravity of a lot of the scenes. It actually made me cry! I
was really happy with it."
All in all, Channing Tatum sums up the core of the movie's message this way:
"It's a big deal to vow yourself for life to somebody and mean it. It really is
For Roger Birnbaum, seeing The Vow to fruition was everything he'd hoped for
since he first heard the Carpenters' story. "With world class director Michael
Sucsy and a truly stellar cast, we couldn't be more happy with The Vow. At the
end of the day, we want to make movies that will appeal to a wide spectrum of
audiences and make them as well as possible."
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