I spent Sunday evening at the Coolidge Corner Theater, which was hosting a screening of the new movie Away We Go. It was a benefit for 826 Boston, the after-school writing and tutoring center founded by Dave Eggers, who most folks know from his awesome book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (yes, I have actually read it). Eggers, who wrote the film with his wife, was billed as the headliner for the evening, and he was there to do a Q&A. However, he was not the only special guest. The film’s stars, John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, were also there to take questions from the audience. (Sweet!!)
I’ll write more about the film itself closer to its theatrical release (it comes out in Boston on June 12), but suffice it to say, it’s a very sweet film about an unmarried couple three months from the birth of their first child, who travel around the country looking for a new place to call home. During the Q&A, Eggers talked of being inspired by the films of Hal Ashby and wanting to write a different kind of romantic comedy. In the film, the lead couple don’t go through the standard arc: there’s no meet-cute, courtship, breakup, and reconciliation, for example. The chance to be in a film where the couple is happy and together throughout was one of the aspects that drew Krasinski and Rudolph to the project. (As was the chance to work with Sam Mendes, who was apparently a very collaborative director.)
Not surprisingly, Rudolph and Krasinski drew the most laughs. Rudolph, who is currently pregnant in real life, talked about how she had a lot in common with her character and how awkward it was to film an oral sex scene on the second day. Krasinski (a Newton native, of course) was quite endearing with his Sam Mendes/Simon Cowell impression and tales of hanging out at Saturday Night Live tapings too often back in the day. He also gave some surprisingly insightful answers that were a long way from the sarcasm and dopeyness seen each week on The Office (maybe that’s because his family was in the audience).
On the other hand, I didn’t really believe Eggers when he said he wrote the screenplay with Krasinski and Rudolph in mind (really? You really thought of those actors?), and I thought his answer that none of the film was inspired by real-life people or events was less than convincing, given that Eggers’ personal story (well documented in AHWoSG) mirrors at least partly that of Rudolph’s character (in the film, her parents died when she was 22) and the overall journey they are on. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Krasinski and Rudolph were really great, and I wish the Q&A had been longer and had covered more than just the specifics of the movie, because obviously, it would have been fun to hear more Office and SNL talk. But, as Krasinski teased, maybe there’ll be a sequel to the film — Away They Went? — so we may have a chance to ask those questions at another time.
(Photos courtesy of Kirk Kittell)