Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths is a rising star in the indie world.
Her movies routinely make it into the top film festivals, like Sundance and Toronto.
Her last award-winning film, “Eden,” was a stunning and harrowing drama about sex trafficking. Her new film, “Lucky Them,” is a complete change of pace. It’s an offbeat romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the Seattle music scene.
Perhaps the best sign of her rising status in the film world is the acting talent she’s now attracting. “Lucky Them” stars Toni Collette, best known for “The Sixth Sense,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “The United States of Tara,” and Thomas Haden Church of “Sideways” and “Wings” fame.
But “Lucky Them” also features one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. And yet Griffiths can’t talk about that!
The reason Griffiths is so cagey about the appearance is because it’s meant to be something of a surprise, a revelation. In many ways, the entire movie is built around this climactic reveal. This A-list actor plays a long-missing and feared-dead rock star who Toni Collette’s character is supposed to track down for a ten-year retrospective magazine piece.
“He is that guy. And this is the character she’s been hunting for. He is in one scene of the film, but he is heavily mythologized throughout the whole movie. He’s just really a big part of the film,” says Griffiths. “When you meet him – it really does need to be a momentous occasion – and it is for the character of Ellie. By casting someone who is so well known to so many people, I think it draws a little bit of a bond between the character and the audience in terms of seeing him. It becomes a ‘gasp’ moment.”
Word will eventually leak out, of course. You can Google it right now if you really need to know, but if you can see the film without knowing, you’re better off.
Griffiths gives the film’s producer/screenwriter Emily Wachtel full credit for pulling off this casting coup, “It’s funny. Emily says when she got the call she hung up the phone and said, ‘This is the biggest thing that’s every happened to me.’ And the producer, Adam, was standing next to her, and he said, ‘This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’m only standing next to you.’ Then she came to set to tell me, and I was like, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ I honestly couldn’t imagine it until I walked on the set and there he was.”
This mega-watt star plays a mega-watt star who desperately wants to avoid the spotlight. His one big scene is expertly handled and appropriately understated. He’s a mystery man who wants to keep the mystery under wraps. And so does director Megan Griffiths, at least for the time being.
“Lucky Them” opens tonight (Friday) at Northwest Film Forum. Director Megan Griffiths will be there in person for a post-screening Q and A Friday and Saturday night.