Anna Lisa Raya is deputy editor of AwardsLine.
Much has been written about the decades-long journey Nebraska took to the big screen. For director Alexander Payne—who spent a year of that time just scouting locations in his home state—the gap allowed him to distance himself from his other road-trip movie, Sideways, and get Paramount behind his desire to shoot in black-and-white (having 2011’s well-received, George Clooney-starrer The Descendants under his belt surely helped). The film, which stars veteran actor Bruce Dern, has been warming audiences since its early bow at the Cannes Film Festival last May and captures that tragi-comic vibe that runs through Payne’s work.
AwardsLine: How do you characterize the long gap between when you were attached to make Nebraska and when the film finally went into production?
Alexander Payne: The reason it took a long time is that I didn’t want to follow up one road-trip film with another. In hindsight, the biggest advantage is in how Bruce Dern looks. He wouldn’t have looked as great 10 years ago. You see different actors in movies and think, “Thank God they got that actor at exactly the right moment.” Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon (1973). Liza Minnelli in Cabaret (1972). I feel that way about Bruce Dern in Nebraska.