Denis O'Hare, Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin talk issues of mental health and the lack of universal truths in 'The Parting Glass'
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The Parting Glass features an incredible and star-studded cast that include Denis O’Hare, Anna Paquin, Melissa Leo, Cynthia Nixon, Rhys Ifans and Edward Asner, in a beautiful, moving, and funny drama about love, loss, and family. Driven by a core trio of True Blood alumni, with Stephen Moyer as director, bringing to life O’Hare’s original screenplay, and of course starring both O’Hare and Paquin. The film follows a family in mourning, as the scenes delve into their memories and piece together the woman they lost. The Parting Glass is hardly fictional, however. The screenplay was based on O’Hare’s own experience losing his younger sister, Kathleen. “It was a mental trick, I guess,” says O’Hare, “which was that I figured that I’d never make the film, so I didn’t worry about what I wrote. I really didn’t think I’d make it, because you shouldn’t, and you can’t, because my family would kill me, so I didn’t worry about it. “And then once it was written, and we started talking about making it, that was a whole other thought process of ‘Oh my god!’. The funny thing is that there are a couple of names in the movie that I never changed, of actual people, and we only realised it quite late, because we went through such a long process of figuring it out. So it was a mental trick about ‘it will never get made, therefore don’t worry about sparing anybody’s feelings, just write what you want to write’. The Parting Glass was also Moyer’s first venture into directing feature films, and what an appropriate debut. “I was lucky enough to have done that with these guys before on True Blood, as a director. Therefore, I think there was a shorthand there already, and a lot of trust – obviously, this is a very specific story to Dennis, and his own personal life. “And so there was never a moment that I wasn’t aware of the weight that it carried for me in terms of telling that story, and wanting to honour not only Dennis but Kathleen, who had died, and Dennis’ family. But also, there’s the elasticity needed within that, to try and tell a piece of entertainment that the audience will leave with something that they will be able to take away and talk about, whether it be mental health or some feeling of hope. That’s the weight that one carries, but the one thing that I never questioned was these guys’ trust, because I feel very connected to both of them in terms of lifting me through it.” Paquin plays the family’s youngest who has, it is gradually revealed, recently committed suicide. Is the film going to bring something new to the discussion on mental health, which is so relevant right now? “It’s not a simple issue, it’s not a simple story, we’re not saying: ‘Here’s the answer! Here’s what happened and here’s what you can do not to have that happen,’” explains O’Hare. “This is not that kind of story, this is one story about what happened to one person in one family, and this is how they reacted. It’s weird that it’s landing in this moment with this attention. I think that anybody who is going to watch it will take away their personal reaction, and I think whatever that is, they won’t feel quite as isolated after.” “And I think another thing we hopefully managed to do is - and what Dennis’ screenplay does – is it’s about truth,” adds Moyer. “And sometimes truth is ugly, but that’s okay. And if that’s what you come out thinking, that that truth, that maybe one’s own experience of one’s own scenario, has made you feel selfish or guilty, in some respect due to something that happened to you, that’s also okay. Human frailty and human failure is part and parcel of the makeup of who we are. And that’s okay, and that’s what people don’t usually talk about.” O’Hare continues, “and what Anna gets to do really well in this movie is this idea of ‘Who is this person?’ And there’s a multiplicity to a person because of course, there is no real objective answer. There is only who that person is to different people. And that’s beautifully portrayed in the movie. And at the end of the day, why did she kill herself? There is no possible answer. And trying to figure out was it this, was it that? Really, what does that answer give you?” As O’Hare had said, Paquin did not have the easiest job in playing the youngest sister, being as her characterisation changed from one person’s memory to the next. “It’s as if each individual vignette is its own person, that each has an entirety of truth in that scene, and that doesn’t have to do with anything that I’m tracking or playing in any of the other scenes,” Paquin explains.
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