Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris met when they were students at UCLA, and their long collaboration, personally and professionally, explains why they have such a rapport as filmmakers, and why they have a tendency to finish each others’ sentences. When I spoke to them on July 23, 2012, the film in question was their second feature, RUBY SPARKS, a perfect follow-up to their first film, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (interview here). The conversation, full of laughter and asides, covered what it was like to re-connect with SUNSHINE co-star Paul Dano, the perils of the blank page, and why the color white is more than it seems.
RUBY SPARKS is a tale of imagination, romance, and truth about what happens when you get what you think you want. To be specific, what happens when Calvin, a soon-to-be former wunderkind with writer’s block literally creates his ideal woman out of his prose, the eponymous Ruby, and, after the initial shock, goes with it. What follows is in wry and clever dissection of relationship dynamics as Calvin discovers more about himself than he wanted to when he realizes that he can make Ruby be anything he wants with just a few well-chosen written words. The film stars Zoe Kazan at Ruby, Paul Dano as Calvin, Chris Messina as the older brother, Annette Benning as their mother, Antonio Bandares as her lover, Steve Coogan as the frenemy fellow writer, Assaf Mandvi as the nudgy agent, and Eliot Gould as the therapist who is almost as cuddly as the stuffed animal he uses in Calvin’s treatment. Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton directed from a script by Kazan her own self. Their previous work includes the bitterly optimistic LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.