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Interview with Anthony and James
Gaudioso of the
Ghost and the Whale" 5/20/16
These twin brothers wrote and directed the film "The Ghost
and the Whale," which you can see On Demand, or on
Amazon, or on
iTunes, or on
Vudu. It's worth
watching. It has good suspense and action, but it also has a
lot of realism and some romance and tragedy, and even some
fantasy. The acting is really good, and the writing is
phenomenal, particularly when it comes to the characters. I found it enjoyable.
Anthony answered a lot of the questions, with some help
from James. They're twins, yet they sound very different. In
the movie, you really can't tell they're even related, let
alone that they're twins! Anthony looks very different,
thanks to make-up and a shaved head, and their acting
abilities. They did a great job of answering my questions
After this interview, I also interviewed their star,
Maurice Benard, about his role in
of our interview, and the transcript below by
1. How did you come up with the idea for the movie?
Anthony: Basically, we were looking for our next project and were just kind
of tossing around ideas, and I had wanted to do a movie in the vein of say
something -- You know, it was funny because I had just read "Moby Dick" again
and that was coming through, and then also I had wanted to do something very
charactery so the film almost imbues like a Popeye kind of feel with the
characters. It's a little bit of a stretch but, if you think about it, it's kind
of close to that, so I feel that I was looking for something that had unique
characters and found this, but it started with a man goes out to sea with his
wife, and when he comes back, she's not with him. He tells how a whale reached
to the surface of the water and knocked her over, and then you have half of the
town very obviously suspicious, and then you have the other half of the town
that wants to know more.
2. Since you knew Maurice before this movie, did his being bipolar give you any
Anthony: We knew Maurice was bipolar before, because we wound up meeting him and
his family and becoming friends. The idea kind of spiraled and then fell into
concert with itself, because I had the idea to do the film, and then as a
subplot it just kind of worked to season the narrative and to add conflict and
to strengthen the drama. That's really how it came into play.
3. Did he have a lot of input into the script?
Anthony: We had spoken. James, more than myself, had sessions where we spoke
about bipolar disorder and, I guess the depths of how far that can go and also
the heights of how far it can go, so he was helpful in enlightening us as to how
wild it can really be, but a lot of it was research on our own.
4. I was surprised to read that you're twins. In the movie, you can't tell.
Anthony, how did you go about creating your different look?
Anthony: What we did was basically, you know, when I was writing and carving out
characters, there were a couple of characters that kind of jumped off the page,
and I wound up wanting to really, really stretch my acting muscles and play
Jack. James, even though he took one of the protagonist roles, I knew that they
were so different-looking that it would be hard for people to really -- I mean,
unless you know us and grown up and been around us, then you'd be able to put 2
and 2 together. I think to people who aren't close to us in our circle, I don't
think you'd be able to tell that us apart.
5. Had you worked with any of the other actors in the movie before besides Maurice?
James: We'd worked with Kelley Flynn, a tremendously talented young actress who
was in "Duke," as well. She had a very small role in "Duke." She played a
waitress in one of our films. We just brought her in and there were a couple of
roles that we were interested in her for, and she just played it. She did such a
remarkable job capturing the pain of Dusty, of a girl that hangs around town too
long and is really forlorn and bereaved for her best friend who's the title
character, the ghost, played by Madeleine Hamer. We knew of Monica Keena, We had
known her from work from years before, but Kelley Flynn and then Bryan McKinley
we had worked with once before, too, and Maurice as well. Jonathan Pryce we
hadn't worked with in the past. However, he had read the script and contacted us
and said that he was interested in doing it, and it was an honor to work with
him. He was phenomenal. There are some really great performances in the film.
6. What about Ron Hale?
James: Yes, we met Ron Hale. He only came in -- he just has that sort of lead in
there in the beginning in his lines with Ed, but we met him through Paula Benard,
7. I assume the whales are all CGI?
Anthony: Yes, the whales were a composition and a CGI plate that many, many,
many animators put together, and that was headed up by Matthew Dean Russell,
another good friend of James and myself and Paula's, as well. We had used CGI
sparingly in one of our first films in college called "Medium" -- it's one of
our more obscure titles -- and then we used a little bit of it in "Duke,"
actually, for some of the gun smoke and some of the nightmare scenes. Definitely
there was some squib action, as well, some blood pellets in "Duke," so we had
used it and were familiar with it, working with artists, but this took it to a
new level. This was definitely the highest echelon of special effects that we'd
ever been around.
8. Where was the movie filmed?
James: The movie was filmed in Bodega Bay, which is where they filmed "The
Birds" with Tippi Hedren. That's why we asked her to be in the film, because it
was filmed 50 years ago to the day that we started filming there. It's a little
coastal town up in Northern California. It's a great film which still holds up
today, and it's such a beautiful town and an eerie little story, so we tried to
incorporate elements of that into our own. Anthony was really clever with the
writing and how he was able to kind of weave that in without making it what the
film was about. It was almost kind of like a front for why the reporter was
really there. There's a huge tie in to "The Birds."
9. I assume it's no coincidence that Annabel has the same name as the Edgar
Allan Poe poem. Are you a big fan of his?
Anthony: Yeah, I can't help but be a fan of his, and I think most writers are
fans of Edgar Allan Poe's. Yeah, that was an homage to Annabel, his lost love,
which in his works has taken many different names. Actually, the Annabel Lee
wasn't the only one we had. The boat was called the Lenore, and the way we had
filmed was such that we couldn't highlight the big decal that was on the side of
the boat, so it's in the script that the boat they take out is the Lenore, but
it just didn't come to fruition for the screen, because of production
constraints. And then there were a couple of other little clues. I'll let you
watch it again, and you let me know if you can find them.
10. I really loved the characters. I thought this town would make a good TV
show. Did you ever consider that?
Anthony: That would be incredible. I mean, it does have its own feel to it. The
town is unique in that way that you can definitely see these people existing.
You can see Dusty Lee, who Kelley Flynn played, and you can see Ruddy Lee,
Dominic Bogart. You can see these characters. You can feel them. And for sure,
that would be great. You know, James and I would jump at the opportunity to
develop it more. It was fun, and those characters and those people I feel like
they left an indelible mark.
11. What's next for you guys?
James: Next, we're working on a film called "Numb" which is like a great human
condition piece. We've got a children's film called "Coins," which Anthony wrote
with another writer, that's absolutely amazing. We've also got a TV show called
"Palace." We're just really excited about those.
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