‘Side Effects’ is a provocative thriller about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum) a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law), intended to treat anxiety has unexpected side effects. Marriages are ruined, Banks’ practice is decimated and someone is dead, Banks becomes obsessed with finding an answer. But the truth he uncovers threatens to destroy whatever is left of his career and his private life.
At a recent press conference we asked the cast of ‘Side Effects’ about their view on the field of psychiatry, Rooney Mara being the new kid on the block and what keeps the other actors coming back to Steven Soderbergh, Why Steven doesn’t like rehearsals, and if ‘Liberace: Behind the Candelabra’ will be his last film.
Channing, ‘Side Effects’ seems to be yet another film in what’s been a great run for you the past year or two. Can you tell us how you think that run came to be and also something you’ve done wrong in the last year so we know you’re human?
Channing Tatum: We’d be here all day, with the wrong stuff. Look, I’ve been lucky. We worked so hard on every single one and you don’t know which ones are gonna work and which ones aren’t. You don’t try any less hard on the ones that don’t. I’ve gotten lucky to work with some really amazingly talented people and that have helped the ones that worked work. You gotta keep doing the stories you love and the characters you love and are drawn to.
Jude and Catherine, you play psychiatrists. What did you guys discover in that field?
Catherine Zeta-Jones: This is probably the hardest movie to discuss to people because any given moment we could realize the wonder plot and the twists and turns that occur throughout the movie. For me playing a doctor, let’s just put it that I try and be as professional on the outset as one would think all good doctors are but my character lies my deeper and the relationship that lie between Jude and myself and Rooney and myself run much deeper than your first impression of me as a doctor would be. I’m thrilled that Steven cast me as a doctor because I never went to college and I always wanted an MD after my name. I’m really quite flattered that you fulfilled my mother’s dream.
Jude Law: I finished this job with a great respect for the profession. I was very interested by the belief in medicine. Obviously a lot of the discussion around this film is around the abuse of medicine and perhaps using medicine of relying on medicine for the wrong reasons. Of course, medicine is also used for an awful lot of good reasons too. I left this job feeling really respectful of psychiatry as a profession.
Rooney how did you feel about psychiatry as a profession after this movie?
Rooney Mara: I think I’ve always had a respect for psychiatry as a professional. Certainly this movie further that because of all the doctors that I spoke to and Dr. Sasha to prepare for the film. I don’t know if the characters in the film left me with more faith in psychiatry but I’m glad Jude feels that way. (Laughter)
How much did you know about the story before you read the script?
Jude Law: Reading a script for us, it only struck me when I saw the finished film that I was missing out on the opportunities of the impact of the twist and the turns but that for me was when I read it. It’s a great read.
Catherine Zeta-Jones: It’s a real page turner.
Channing Tatum: Reading it, I kinda thought I knew where it was going and then it took a hard right turn and I had no idea where it was gonna go after that. Like Rooney said yesterday, I thought it was gonna be the ‘Contagion’ of pharmaceutical movies which would have been amazing. Steven, you should have done that one. But it kinda gives you that and another meal as well. Pleasantly surprising.
Rooney Mara: Yeah I didn’t know anything about it when I read it. I really didn’t know anything about it when I read it and I certainly couldn’t have seen it coming. It was definitely a page turner.
Jude, can you talk about the situation of this character both his professional versus his personal life. A man who wants to help everyone else in the world but seems to be struggling in his personal life. Can you talk about playing the character that way?
Jude Law: I suppose it was important for me to make it very clear that his guy was good at what he did and something I learned quickly with the help of Scott and Scott’s script and some of the work I discussed with Sasha was the sense of boundaries and when and how a situation may arise for a psychiatrist where it will impact his private life. Also we’re telling a story so as some point as an actor you have to work out where the drama is best played out because as the story dictates, his life styles do implode. It was important for me to have a sense of this guy crumbling if you like and at the same time there was a beautiful subtly to the story itself where you’re not sure whether he’s got the upper hand or indeed I’ve been asked quite a lot because there’s a time where you think that he’s going mad. All of that, if I’m really honest, really is in the writing. Sometimes you’re very lucky as an actor, you just join the dots.
Rooney, did you feel like you were the new kid on the block working with Steven for the first time next to all these actors. For the rest of the cast, what keeps bringing you back to do Steven Soderbergh movies?
Rooney Mara: Yeah, I did feel like that. My first day, I was definitely kind of nervous but they were all pretty nice so it made it pretty easy.
Channing Tatum: I just keep coming back because Steven’s so pretty and beautiful and he gives great massages on set. (Laughter) That’s really it and I don’t really love anything else about him. (Laughter) I wish he would just keep making movies so I can keep getting those massages. (Laughter)
Catherine Zeta-Jones: He rubbed my feet when I was pregnant in ‘Traffic’ and that’s the only reason why I keep coming back. He looked after a pregnant woman so well and I just knew I’d be in good hands.
Steven, what is it you do besides the massages then?
Steven Soderbergh: I’m a big screamer because you get things done when you yell at people. Scott (Burns) had a great phrase, he thought the movie was about the fact that we’ve declared war on sadness and I thought that was a great way at looking at the movie and that’s the way I was thinking about it because I think we do that here. Somehow the idea that we have peaks and valleys has become an issue and there needs to be an equilibrium that’s common to everyone which seems strange.
Why did you want to be in this movie? Why did you want to tell this particular story and how did it change your mind about one or two things?
Catherine Zeta-Jones: Career wise, and I love my job, but it takes me a lot to leave my kids and leave my husband and leave my dogs so this had all the elements that got me straight on a plane the moment that Steven asked me to do it. With Scotts script, all the elements just feel into place. A fantastic script, it’s a roller coaster ride. To work with Steven a third time was an absolute treat and to work with the caliber of actors that he cast so beautifully was a slam dunk for me really.
Jude Law: It’s unfortunately a rarity to be involved in something intelligent nowadays and this was smart and it felt very timely. Although I just found out this takes place ten years ago. But it’s incredibly kind of relevant and now. I like what you said about the trust, it’s very on board something and you feel like you’re there because you’re the right person for the job and trust in them gives you confidence. I like working in New York. New York’s a great town and I got to go home at about three o’clock most days. It was fantastic.
Rooney Mara: I really wanted to work with Steven for a while. I can’t remember why I wanted to now that I have. And then I read the script and I just loved it, I thought it was really smart and interesting and like Jude said that really doesn’t happen that often. The cast that he had attached to it, like they said, it was kind of a no-brainer. I think every job that you do changes or effects you in some way. I certainly went into it thinking I knew a lot about depression and when I started researching it, I realized I didn’t know a lot about depression. Certainly that part of it changed me. I feel like I have a lot more compassion now for depression. I really didn’t understand it before and the time that we spent at Ward’s Island, all of that. There’s a lot of things that we were able to do that were really eye opening.
Channing Tatum: Do you have more compassion for husbands that are just trying to make their wives happy? Apparently not because I don’t remember you learning that lesson. (Laughter) Obviously Steven and I have worked together a couple of times together before this and he can call me for anything and I’d play waiter number one or two even. I’m not gonna play three but I’ll do two. Then I read it and it was really refreshingly intelligent and I wanted to see it in his hands and be a part of it. Everybody sitting up here I have a huge amount of admiration for. I wanted to be a part of it and I’ve definitely had a connection with people that really needed help either from a pill or just having a conversation with them. Trying to help them with depression. The abuse of pills and prescription pills is a real thing and I understand that there are people who really need them and I understand that there are people who abuse them and its an unfortunate gray line that unfortunately has to exist. I thought the movie really handles it well. I learned from the movie, don’t trust red heads. They’ll get you every single time. (Laughter)
Channing, you’ve had a very busy year and with a baby on the way do you think you’ll slow down and how excited are you for your next role as a Dad?
Channing Tatum: That’ll be the biggest role of my life, I hope I don’t screw that one up. Yeah, I’m really, really excited and I hope to slow down a little bit once the little person comes into the world.
Rooney do you like to share possible side effects you may have had from drugs?
Rooney Mara: I never take drugs ever. I’ve never taken drugs.
Channing Tatum: Good answer. (Laughter)
Rooney Mara: I don’t take drugs anymore. I don’t even remember what it’s like.
Channing Tatum: I’m on drugs right now and the side effects are amazing. All of you look like little lollipops. (Laughter)
Steven, you seem to have such a speciality with all the people here, do you have any slogans you go by when things get rough and why are you so intent on no rehearsals and why did you allow Jude to have an accent.
Jude Law: I don’t have an accent. (Laughter)
To us you seem to have an accent.
Steven Soderbergh: What’s my slogan? My slogan is — “If you’re on time, you’re late.” There’s that. What was fun for me about this was there were several different sort of layers on top of it that needed to be coordinated because it starts as movie a and then it sort of becomes movie b and then it becomes movie c and I had to make sure stylistically that when these shifts happened, the story was taking a turn but the directorial choices were consistent. Also it does another unusual thing in that it starts off being from Rooney’s point of view and then about halfway through you shift to Jude’s point of view and making sure that was happening in a way that wasn’t too obvious was something we talked about a lot. For me there were lots of things to think about both on a micro level and a macro level so it was fun. We rehearse sort of. I just like to save it for when we’re rolling. It happens pretty quickly.
Rooney, we always see you in such heavy fare. Is there a rom-com in your future and why do you gravitate towards these types of roles?
Rooney Mara: Me? (Laughter) Everyone keeps asking me that. I don’t see a rom-com in my future but never say never.
Steven Soderbergh: She’s not funny.
Rooney Mara: I’m just not funny. (Laughter) I think you’d be really mad or disappointed.
Steven Soderbergh: You do dram-coms. (Laughter)
Catherine, what do you think about Michael kissing Matt Damon?
Catherine Zeta-Jones: I’ve seen Liberace ‘Behind the Candelabra’ and if anyone’s gonna kiss another one else in the world, I’m so happy it’s Matt Damon and not Rooney Mara. When Matt Damon was kissing Michael, he closed his eyes and pretend he was kissing me. He said that to Michael. Matt was closing his eyes and kissing Michael and pretending he was kissing me and I thought that was one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever had. This is why Steven employs us because we can be screwed up as much as we want but just happy to be there on that day.
Since we don’t really want to give anything away, how do we talk about this movie? What really can we say other than the pill can change your life?
Steven Soderbergh: There’s an issue, fortunately, that’s pretty fascinating and complex. You can talk bout that. You can talk about the genre. We talked about ‘Fatal Attraction’, we talked about ‘Jagged Edge,” “Fatal Attraction’. There was a kind of thriller that used to be made that was really fun to watch and they kind of stopped being made. I don’t know why. I was watching ‘Double Indemnity’ last night and it’s like that, it’s one of those movies that just keep turning and they’re really fun.
Steven, if this and ‘Beyond the Candelabra’ are your last films, how do you feel the Steven Soderbergh box set from ‘sex, lies and videotapes’ to now would reflect your work?
Steven Soderbergh: I felt very fortunate for ‘Candelabra’ falling where it did because not only because I’ve worked with Michael and Matt before but it seemed to exist in a continuum for the first film. At the end of the day, it was a relationship movie and the core of it was two people in a room. The difference in this case was they were in a hot tub. So I look at that at quite a progression.
Can you guys briefly mention what you’re working on next?
Steven Soderbergh: Nothing. (Laughter)
Rooney Mara: Nothing.
Channing Tatum: I just finished a movie called ‘Foxcatcher’ with Bennett Miller and then ‘Jupiter Ascending’ with the Wachowskis and that’s it so far.
Catherine Zeta-Jones: That was gonna be my answer too. (Laughter)
Jude Law: I’m doing a play at the end of the year, I’m doing ‘Henry V’ in London but I’m here and available for work. Another sequel yeah. This time he’s really angry. (Laughter)
Catherine do you feel like you’re back, we haven’t seen you in a while, and now it sounds like you’ve got a lot of projects you’re working on. Secondly, yesterday the academy announced they’re gonna do a thing on musicals over the past ten years including ‘Chicago’ and I’m wondering if you’re gonna appear at the Academy Awards this year in some capacity related to that?
Catherine Zeta-Jones: They released that? Well yeah. I’ll speak to you after because I’m absolutely terrified about that. That would be great. I don’t know exactly in what capacity I will be, but I’ll be there, put it that way. I don’t quite know exactly what I’m doing. That’ll be fun. Regarding the other question, like I said earlier, I find it really hard to leave my children. I think I’ll never get these beautiful, formative, delicious years back and it takes me great thought and like I said, what is it I want to leave my kids and my husband for, and this obviously was a must for me and to work with Steven for the third time. I’d pretty much do the phone book with him if he asked me. Just read it. In three different languages. In French, Welsh and English. And then Lorenzo, he’s an old, not that old, but a dear friend. To work on a movie. I saw ‘Red’ and thought it was a blast with an ensemble cast of Malkovich and Helen Mirren and Sir Anthony Hopkins and Bruce and Mary-Louise. That made sense to me, that sounded like fun. On a completely different level from what this movie is. It’s completely different. I look for those movies that surround myself with great people and I know I’d love turning up to work everyday.
Side Effects is in theaters February 8th