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Vera Farmiga on Up in the Air

Published December 3, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount Pictures
Up in the Air explores the world of people who travel for a living. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) meets Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) in a hotel bar when their business travels cross paths. Along the way, Bingham has to shepherd Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) in the business and the three have a chance to talk openly about major life issues.

Vera Farmiga Goes Up in the Air

“That conversation very specifically is what a woman looks for in a man at 20 years of age, at 30 years of age,” Farmiga said. “I love that scene and it’s not necessarily what I strived for as a 20 or 30-year-old. I had very different [criteria]. Nice smile was always a part of it but just a smile in general. You could’ve had a crooked tooth smile. My husband has a very crooked tooth smile and it’s utterly charming. It’s just a smile. I look for different things. That scene in particular was a chance to show Ryan’s character in a very paternal life, experiencing something he’s been opposed to which is having a marriage, having a child. That was a very parental scene between the three of them.”

The dialogue also addresses the difference between what you’re “supposed to” want and what you actually want. “That’s the 20-year-old deciphering that and discovering that sometimes we just have to make that list and say, ‘Okay, what is it that I want? Which of these things is what I’m supposed to want and not really part of who I am or what my needs and desires are as an individual?”

Up in the Air Up in the Air

Up in the Air Up in the Air

Up in the Air Up in the Air

Scenes like that were carefully scripted. Other scenes, director Jason Reitman just let the actors go wild. “There are certain things that he can recognize, ‘You know, this would be better if we actually improvised a wedding.’ After The Deer Hunter wedding sequence, let’s face it, who’s going to try to capture another wedding. He hired a wedding planner and the camera A and camera B operators got dressed up in wedding garb and were videographers of the wedding. They had a real clergyman, a minister who married a bride and groom. That day we went through three separate weddings. It was loose and carefree and we knew our characters by then. I come from the stage and that’s where my training was. There was a lot of play that way, improvisation to get something real.”

It could be a tough life traveling the country filming scenes in generic hotels, only to go home to a generic hotel room at night. Farmiga knew how to combat hotel fatigue. “I’m such an adventuress. I really am an explorer at heart. Any chance I got, and they were so kind to me because I’d just given birth maybe two months beforehand, so any chance I had, I was out in Forest Park in St. Louis. If that’s who you are, if you just sit in hotel rooms, then it’s going to be a really grim existence. I love to explore. I love to put my backpack on and just head in any direction any place that I encounter and make the most of it. It’s so easy in this business to huff and puff through it and become jaded and ungrateful. I don’t take it for granted. I hate the process of getting there but I do love traveling. I love going to new places and discovering new things.”

Up in the Air opens to theatres December 4th.

For the posters, trailers and more movie info, go to the Up in the Air Movie Page.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Paramount Pictures

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