Being an actress is hard work. But being the star of your husband’s feature directorial debut is a different kind of challenge altogether. Luckily for Olivia Wilde, who stars in hubby Tao Ruspoli’s Fix, the task was an enjoyable one from beginning to end.
Inspired by real events, Fix tells the story of two documentarians, Bella (Wilde) and Milo (Ruspoli), as they race around Los Angeles’ many enclaves to get Milo’s brother Leo (Shawn Andrews) from jail to rehab—or risk Leo going to prison for three years. Filling the roles of co-writer, director, actor and cinematographer, Ruspoli set the stage for a production where the actors were expected to do more than just deliver their lines. Wilde spoke with MM about the fast-paced nature of shooting Fix.
Jennifer Wood (MM): The film is one that required more of all its players than any single job title would suggest, with the actors shooting the film, too. How was the experience of making this film different from anything you’d done before?
Olivia Wilde (OW): Often actors believe the work is done when we walk off set. “That’s a wrap on Olivia Wilde!” And then we go home and impatiently wait to win some awards. With Fix I learned that the real work begins when the shooting is complete. I was involved in this project from the beginning, and watched in awe as Tao wrote for two years before financing, casting, shooting, editing, re-editing, submitting and premiering. I’ve never seen someone work so hard with so much passion. I have a newfound respect for directors who carry their beloved film/baby for years and see it through without ever dropping it on its head.
The film was different from every other project I’ve done for several reasons, not the least of which being the fact that our entire guerilla filmmaking crew traveled throughout the shooting day in one production vehicle (the beloved Magic Bullet, the undisputed hit of Sundance and Slamdance as it rolled up and down Main Street this year) as we stole shots on street corners and chased the sun down together as a true team, without the separational hierarchy which rules most film and TV sets. The actors were at once the “talent” (a term most call sheets use way too lightly) and the traffic directors, dog minders, light holders, DPs and drivers.
MM: Being directed by your husband must have been a different experience, too. What was the biggest challenge of working together all day—and then coming home with each other? Of course, the benefit of that is that you get to experience the whole thing together—from pre-production to the film’s premiere.
OW: On a film like Fix, there is no time for drama. Amazingly, we never had to resist the urge to hurtle the camera at each other’s heads out of frustration. I suppose it’s because we shared the same vision for the film, and therefore our instincts were often the same. Tao is also the most forgiving person I’ve ever met. He was so understanding of my exhausted moans when I’d crawl home from work on “House” at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, and he’d say “We’re getting up in two hours to shoot Fix all weekend!”