Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked hits theaters on August 17. The film follows Annie, played by Rose Byrne, who is stuck in a long-term relationship with Duncan, played by Chris O’Dowd, an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). When the acoustic demo of Tucker’s hit record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to a life-changing encounter with the elusive rocker himself. Directed by Jesse Peretz, Juliet, Naked is a comic account of life’s second chances.
The director Jesse Peretz used to be the bass guitarist for the rock band Lemonheads back in the 90s. He let go the bass guitar to start directing TV series and features. Some of his work includes the series Girls from HBO, some episodes from Orange is The New Black and GLOW from Netflix, the romantic comedy The Ex from 2006, among others.
I had the opportunity to speak over the phone with Peretz. We discussed his involvement with the film, casting Ethan Hawke, and more. Let’s check it out some parts of the interview:
What was it about the story that got your attention?
What I loved was the idea that in the story, this character that felt like a fraud and felt like a loser of an adult who has failed as a parent and as a lover and trying to keep together by not ruining with his 6-year-old kid. I loved that he felt like his life was fraudulent and exploring who that character is and where the truth lay with his perception of himself and the fans perception of him. I tried to unpack the relationship between the fan and the art that they worship and the artist who makes the art and may distance themselves from it.
I think Ethan Hawke is perfect as Tucker Crowe. How did he come onboard?
We were constantly saying that Tucker Crowe is a cross between Ethan Hawke and Jeff Bridges and right between their ages. But Tucker (the character) is ten years older than Ethan. When I heard Ethan had read the script and was interested in the part, it was a similar thing. I thought there was no reason for this character to be pushing 60. I needed to let go of the decision I had made in my head because this guy was made to play this character. Ethan was so helpful in the process of helping us re-write the character and pushed us to make him a bit more rascally. He gave us the confidence that he could play it and still redeem himself that an audience and want there to be some possibility between him and Annie.
What about Rose Byrne? Did you have her in mind since the beginning?
Rose was aware this project was happening right around the time that I became attached to it. She loved the novel. She’s a real well-rounded actress and thought she was too pretty to play the part. It seemed to be very important that there be something homely and normal about Annie. Then I spent an hour and a half with her and her insights into the character and novel were so spot on and felt helpful as we were in the process of doing our own script.
The music plays an important part of the movie. How was the process of putting together the tracks?
We asked for about 75 songwriters to write songs saying we couldn’t promise to use it but if we used the song, we’d pay them and if we didn’t, then they had a new song. It was a scary process and we gave people a biography and references and a lot of music was great and didn’t really work but eventually ended up with enough songs that we felt were right for what we were looking for.