A Peaceful Post-Apocalyptic Story In 'I Think We're Alone Now'
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
The apocalypse of director Reed Morano's new film, "I Think We're Alone Now," is orderly, quiet. There are no ravenous zombies. There's no fiery explosions. And no - no rebellious handmaids. That's just the way the reclusive librarian Del, played by Peter Dinklage, likes it - that is, until he meets another survivor, a boisterous young woman named Grace played by Elle Fanning. Reed Morano, who has directed episodes of "The Handmaid's Tale" and directs this film, and Peter Dinklage join me now to talk about the film, which depicts a world in which humanity has been wiped out and only two people are left. Welcome to the program.
REED MORANO: Hi.
PETER DINKLAGE: Hi. Thanks for having us.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So apocalypse films often elicit this sense of anxiety or dread. "I Think We're Alone Now" is very different. It's quite peaceful. And your character, Peter, enjoys that quiet.
DINKLAGE: Yeah. I think maybe under different circumstances...
DINKLAGE: ...It would be better. But I think we all - especially living here in New York City - deserve a little peace and quiet now and again.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So Elle Fanning's character and your character are two very different types of people. They're very opposite. I want to play a clip right now of one example of the dark humor of the film. And here, Grace and Del are clearing rotten food out of a dead person's home. Let's listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW")
ELLE FANNING: (As Grace) What are you doing?
DINKLAGE: (As Del) I'm cleaning.
FANNING: (As Grace) Why? It's not like anyone's going to come in here again.
DINKLAGE: (As Del) Entropy is the idea that there's...
FANNING: (As Grace) Yeah.
DINKLAGE: (As Del) ...Chaos.
FANNING: (As Grace) It's the chaos thing. I know.
DINKLAGE: (As Del) With every piece of trash we pick up, there's one less case for chaos in the universe.
FANNING: (As Grace) Has anyone ever told you you're kind of a weird guy?
DINKLAGE: (As Del) Yeah. But they're all dead now.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to ask you both - because you say you're both drawn to dystopia, as I am. I love it. But why dystopian? Why now? Many people feel like we may be living in a dystopian novel with climate change and hurricanes and an incredibly divided country.
DINKLAGE: We're so close already (laughter). Let's send out the warning flares with our movies.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Reed, is that what appeals?
MORANO: You know, looking at the apocalypse or looking at a situation like this, there is something really appealing about that idea of you have to connect to the person that's there because there's nothing else to do.
DINKLAGE: I remember the blackout here in New York several years ago. It was hard for a lot of people because it was summertime, and it was really hot, and everybody was uncomfortable. But I remember living in Brooklyn at that time. And New York was the most beautiful place at the same time. Everybody was making new friends on the street because we all really, really needed each other. And it didn't come out of a time of great tragedy. It just came out of an electrical blackout. And I think to shine a light on that is quite lovely.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What is this film about for you?
DINKLAGE: For me, at its core, I really do think it's a love story between two people who wouldn't in a million years share a love - any sort of commonality, any - a love story in the real world.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I mean, your character is formerly a night worker at a library, and he's obsessed with chronicling what's left behind. And I think that was one of the more moving things of the film because I imagined humanity being wiped away and the remnants that we all leave - these sort of, like, smoke signals about what our lives were, pictures and other things. And, you know, your character's sort of obsessed with keeping those and categorizing them. What is that about?
DINKLAGE: Paying respects - it's his form - it's his way of paying respects.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. Reed, why is memory so important in this film? I mean, what is it about that that felt compelling?
MORANO: That is one of the things you notice when you have a loss in your life - is that, you know, weeks, months, years later, you look around, and you can't find any pieces of paper with that person's handwriting on it anymore or even any of their belongings. And it's as if the person's been erased. You know, I think if you're faced with the choice of remembering the pain and not remembering to escape pain, you know, I would always choose to remember it. For me, it's a common theme because I think about it a lot because my father passed away when I was 18, and so...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I was about to ask because it sounds like you might have lost someone. You speak about it with some knowledge, it sounds.
MORANO: Yeah. It's almost like, for me, I don't want to ever forget what those things felt like because then I would take for granted the moment that I was in right now.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Peter, is that something that drew you to the film? I mean, did you have someone that you might have lost that it - that seemed to resonate?
DINKLAGE: Yeah. Of course. Everybody has - can relate to that to different degrees. Yeah. Of course. Yeah, my father passed away about 15 years ago, and I can't find any - it's crazy because it was before the Internet and iPhones and all that, and I can't - I don't have any recordings of his voice. I forget what his voice sort of sounds like. I remember it, but you don't - you know, it's a version that exists in my dreams or my imagination. It's different from what he probably sounded like.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What do you think the world would look like if, all of a sudden, everyone just sort of went away?
DINKLAGE: It'd be beautiful.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Really (laughter)? Before I end the interview, I - you requested that we only ask one question about "Game Of Thrones," and that is fair enough. What is the most challenging scene of the upcoming season, and are you looking forward to a day when you won't be in that role anymore which has come to define you?
DINKLAGE: I - we've finished. My final day was in the middle of July. It was heartbreaking. It's my family. I have two children who were born and raised over in Ireland on that show. So it goes beyond just making a TV show when you're a part of something for that long.
No, it - the hardest - well, probably saying goodbye to it was for me the hardest. But there are some moments that my character has this past season where he has to face some things about himself that he probably didn't want to. And, yeah, it's a beautiful season.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: "I Think We're Alone Now" opens in theaters September 21.
Reed Morano and Peter Dinklage, thank you so much for joining me.
DINKLAGE: Thank you so much.
MORANO: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF FEVERKIN'S "CALENDAR PROJECT: JANUARY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.