Bushwick builds its story around a modern day ‘what if?’ Brittany Snow plays Lucy, a young girl trapped in a war zone in Bushwick, New York. When she meets war veteran Stupe (Dave Bautista), the pair begin a perilous journey to survival in which the pair must learn to trust one another.
In conversation with HeyUGuys, Snow reflected on hesitant beginnings to playing a proactive role in the creation of her character, while also discussing the symbiotic interplay between the film and the modern day reality,
When you first read the script for Bushwick what was the appeal of the character and the story?
Well, when I received the script I was very hesitant because on the page there wasn’t a lot of character. It’s a big action movie and throughout my character pretty much just asked a lot of questions. It started to become an inside joke between the directors and I. So I was hesitant about doing the part, but then when I spoke to the directors, Cary [Murnion] and Jon [Milott] and they expressed how they wanted to shoot it in a format with long takes and for it to feel like a first person point of view, and also that I could have quite a lot of artistic freedom to create a character, then it became more interesting.
I wanted to make sure she was more of a fully fledged character and so I’ve done a lot of the back story and those other things that we have put into the movie. I wanted to play a person whose arc you could see from the beginning to the end, of her going from being completely unaware of her situation, to making a choice and that feeling of you have to survive, what would you then do in that situation? It seems a little farfetched and high concept that all of a sudden you become a warrior, but in times of war I guess you have to make a choice.
Picking up on your point about developing a character arc, could we assert that the film offers its audience a sense of wish fulfillment, as they vicariously experience the scenario through the characters?
I guess we do, and that’s why movies are a fantastic medium to live and to relate to things through. My favorite types of movies are not high concept fantasy, they’re more those that I relate to and feel that connection with. But to the opposite, you want to see a film and be entertained, and also connected to what you would do in that situation. I think this movie is a good example of that. It seems far fetched that a war would break out in Bushwick, New York, but at the same time because of the current climate and what has happened politically in the world, it’s something that has definitely crossed people’s minds. So this is an entertaining way of looking at what could feasibly happen with the current situation where we are seeing rebellion against democracies and the establishment through elections and referendums. It is feeding an unsettled world, and in the Middle East you have the extreme of that.
To what extent could we describe Bushwick as a product of its time, and will it offer future audiences a perspective?
The movie itself wasn’t made specifically because we wanted to show what is currently happening in the world – it’s definitely a fantasized version of that. But it definitely is indicative of the polarisation of world views, of the world right now, and you can see in the film that division and what people do when they’re divided. They resort to violence and any means necessary to survive, and that is a primal thing that people have forever done. And yes, America has experienced this before, but it’s very scary to think that this could happen again, that we didn’t learn from our mistakes.
The intent of the filmmakers versus the resonance of reality is a point that interests me, specifically the way in which reality is a co-author.
The filmmakers of course know the film as a cautionary tale, and how it came about was something that they read. I think it was in a poem and they thought: Wow, wouldn’t that be interesting… What would happen… But we made this before Trump was elected and it is very interesting that it all came about at this time when people began to divide. Of course you are taking into account your own personal views and you’re bringing your own life into watching something, which is what you do with movies, and everyone is different. So I guess you can watch the movie and formulate your own opinion, but when we were doing the movie, we knew that this could be something that was a topic of conversation, but we didn’t know how relevant it would become. But yeah, I think that’s true, and reality always plays a part in creative choices.
One of the complimentary aspects of the film is the juxtaposition within the characters. While you are not defined as a meek and frail heroine, the violence of Bautista’s character is offset by a gentleness.
We both created our backstories and made sure that was in the script, but he’s like that in real life. He’s just the most gentle and genuine human being, and I am really excited that people got to see that from him, because that’s how he takes on acting and relates to people. I think he really wanted that dynamic with he and I – where it was not just black and white. You will go through things in your life and although you seem a certain way from the outside, inward things have happened to you that have created something else. And for me, my dynamic with him was trying to portray the fear of being a young girl trapped in a war zone who meets someone that could help her, but knowing intuitively that this was a good person and she could trust him little by little. We became good friends and we wanted to make sure that friendship and chemistry came across, but not overly where you think that all of a sudden people are going to be laughing and be best friends in times of silence. That chemistry helped a lot because we created our own dialogue, and it made sure that people wanted to follow these characters through the rest of the story.
Was the creation of the back story completed prior to shooting, or was it a process that continued on through the production phase?
It was a little bit of both. During rehearsals I worked with the directors to make sure that I wasn’t just going to be the damsel in distress that asked questions. I think I took out 50% of the questions my character asked – there were so many. I wanted to make sure that although she didn’t know what was going on and she needed to ask questions, there is also that sense of when you are going through something really difficult, you innately know how to handle it. We also added a lot about her family, but we wanted to make sure that people liked these characters. So we needed to have her make a turn, so that she wasn’t just a bystander on the sideline being dragged along in the story. She actually makes a choice to try to stand up for herself and for her family, which is an unconventional family, but we also put that in there because Bushwick is an unconventional place. It’s a melting pot of different people, and we wanted to make sure that the people in the movie that are trying to unite came from all different backgrounds. And I know Dave had his own process and he created his own monologue that he wrote himself because he wanted to make sure there was some back story.
Do you perceive there to be a transformative aspect to the creative process, where it changes you as a person?
Oh definitely. It’s a job and luckily as actors our job is to connect to feelings, to be empathetic towards the character we are playing. We discover things about ourselves and how to use that or whether to use it for our character. It’s being skilled and compassionate, but also you grow up. You are still a person doing a job and just like anyone else you learn a lot from each job because new things are asked of you. This is the first time I had done something like this and I left feeling a lot more confident, knowing that I could do these types of things. And that is why you continually want to change up what you do as an actor because there are so many new things to learn and to explore about yourself.
Bushwick is released on August 25th. You can read our review here.