Tribeca 2015: Jason Sudeikis, Rebecca Hall Fete Their Oblique Rom-Com 'Tumbledown'
"I'm a grieving widow. It’s not a straightforward comedy at all. But it’s more comedy than anything else."
In Tumbledown, Rebecca Hall plays a young woman struggling to move on after the death of her husband, an acclaimed folk singer.
On the surface, the film doesn’t appear to be the most lighthearted fare, but Hall read it as a welcome relief. "I had just done a very heavy theatrical piece that involved me getting in the electric chair seven nights a week,” she told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet before the film’s world premiere during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday. "I was looking for something funny."
Which isn’t to say that Tumbledown is afraid to explore darker subjects, she continued. "I'm a grieving widow. It’s not a straightforward comedy at all. But it’s more comedy than anything else."
Jason Sudeikis, the romantic lead opposite Hall, plays a college professor of American studies with a "deep interest and passion in Rebecca’s deceased husband — he’s attempting to learn his life story through her eyes," he told THR. The pair are tasked with writing his biography together, as romantic feelings slowly take root.
The project stewed on the back burner for years until, suddenly, all the pieces fell into place. "Jason was the first one who really committed and stuck with us for a couple years while he went on his Horrible Bosses train," producer Kristin Hahn told THR. “Rose Byrne was onboard for a while, but we couldn’t make the schedules work. Jason finally had a window where he was like, 'I can do it now before I have a baby. If we wrap on a certain day, I will do the movie.' We had to go fast."
For first-time director Sean Mewshaw and his wife, first-time screenwriter Desi Van Til, working on the film has spanned the entire length of their relationship. "Did we bring drafts of the script on our honeymoon?" Van Til asked her husband on the red carpet. "We’ve been married for eight years — we’ve been working on this for a long time." Joked Mewshaw: "It’s lucky that we have kids, so now that the movie is over, we still have something to talk about!"
While Tumbledown is very much a rom-com, it takes a fresh approach on an old dynamic. "In a weird way, I thought of the movie as a love triangle between two people who are alive and one who is dead," Mewshaw said onstage after the screening. "They both love the same man, and I was interested in trying to find a way that that brought them together."
The fest has proved an action-packed marathon for Sudeikis, who recently shot an AT&T spot for the fest and attended the premiere of fiancee Olivia Wilde's film Meadowlands the night before. Wilde, in turn, was on hand to support Sudeikis and the film, alongside fellow castmember Dianna Agron and guests Josh Lucas and Maggie Castle.