Red-Carpet Interview, Portrait: John C. Reilly at 2011 Chicago International Film Festival

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CHICAGO – Since veteran character actor John C. Reilly was born in Chicago, it’s natural that he walked the red carpet at the the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival to promote his new film, “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”

After cultivating a theater career in Chicago, Reilly broke into films in 1989, with Brian De Palma’s “Casualties of War.” He has played a range of both dramatic and serious film roles over the years, including “Days of Thunder” (1990), “Boogie Nights” (1997), “Magnolia” (1999), “Chicago” (2002), “Talladega Nights” (2006), “Step Brothers” (2008), “Cyrus” (2010) and “Cedar Rapids” (2011). His latest role is as a supporting husband to Tilda Swinton in the chilling “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” was able to ask a few questions on the red carpet to John C. Reilly on October 11th, when he was at the Chicago International Film Festival. Photographer Joe Arce also captured this portrait of him there.

John C. Reilly at the Chicago International Film Festival, October 11, 2011
John C. Reilly at the Chicago International Film Festival, October 11, 2011
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for You played similar sort of everyman in ‘Cyrus’ and ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin.’ What level of frustration do you think those types of modern male lives with and how do you embellish it in your characters?

John C. Reilly: I would disagree with the premise. I don’t think the characters in ‘Cyrus’ and ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ are similar at all. In Cyrus, the guy’s heart was an open book, and he was hyper-aware of each emotional interaction he had with people, if anything he was over-analytical. The character that I play in Kevin, first off, he is a figment of the Tilda Swinton character’s imagination, he is different than any other character I’ve played. In her version of him, he is willfully ignorant of what is going on. I thought both their hearts were open…

Reilly: He is open hearted, but I think he’s not playing attention to what is around him. What is more difficult to get right, the extreme drama in Kevin or the nuanced comedy in something like Cedar Rapids?

Reilly: They’re both hard, and they require different things. You have to be real in both, you can go off the rails if you’re not playing moment-to-moment in both situations. With comedy, if you’re not hitting it right, you’re not plugged in and it’s not funny, then it’s really brutal. In that way, comedy is harder. In a dramatic movie, an audience can decide whether it applies to them or not. In a comedy, it’s either funny or it ain’t. That is a pretty harsh reality. When it works, it’s a pretty good day at work, when it doesn’t, it’s ‘cold sweat city.’ Finally, what is the first thing you do when you come back to Chicago to make you feel at home again?

Reilly: Well, today I got a gyro, and I tried to get to the lake but I ended up at the river. Just walking around near where I got the gyro. I got tired, so I jumped on a water taxi and rode back and forth a few times, then got out. It was a beautiful day.

The 47th Chicago International Film Festival is October 6th-20th, 2011. For more information and to purchase tickets, click on senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2011 Patrick McDonald,

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