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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints: D. Lowery & R. Mara

By Meredith Alloway · August 5, 2013

Rooney Mara & David Lowery Talk Texas, Outlaws & Affleck

David Lowery’s feature debut is causing quite a stir, leaving audiences in dusty, heart-broken bliss. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a Bonnie in Clyde tale, starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in the title roles. But it serves up a healthy heaping of Texas, lacking in as many stand-ups or bank robberies as you’d expect. Instead Lowery reveals, “I wanted the film to pick up where movies we’ve seen before left off. I was more interested in the aftermath of it.”

After finding great success at Sundance, SXSW, and a plethora of other festivals, the film is opening August 16th. I was able to steal interviews with Lowery and Mara while they were in Los Angeles for the press day.

“I wanted the whole movie to feel like a folk song.” Lowery describes that even the titled was derived from a folk song he heard. Mara was drawn to this musicality when first deciding to come on board, “I loved just the whole world. I really loved Bob [Affleck] and Ruth’s [Mara] love story. I felt like the whole script was very poetic. Then when I met David…I had this feeling that he was going to make something special and wanted to be a part of it.”

Mara has worked with a number of directors who also write their own scripts. As she puts it, it can be “helpful and sometimes it can be a hindrance.” But she reveals that much of the script was changed during the process and Lowery would drop a line if the actor posed a good enough argument.  “Working with David is fantastic because he’s not precious about anything.”

Casey Affleck brings his own charm to the story. When asked which scene is their favorite, Lowery and Mara choose the same one. “I love the scene where Casey has this long monologue in the mirror.”

Mara clearly has a fondness for Affleck and didn’t know him before they started shooting. When describing a scene she had read many, many times, she confesses, “I never could have imagined the way he was going to do it, which is very rare. It was so alive and in the moment, and that’s what it was like working with him.”

Another strong member of the cast is Ben Foster who plays Patrick, the man that Bob allegedly shot, the real perpetrator being Ruth herself.

Lowery explains, “Every character is a chunk of me. With Patrick, he really was sort of the moral center of the movie. The archetype of a sheriff in this type of movie is someone who ultimately is going to catch the bad guy. I wanted him to be the character who represented the idea that doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean following the rules. He has a chance to live up to his archetype and he chooses not to do so because it feels like the better thing to do.”

Mara describes Patrick similarly, “Patrick for Ruth is maybe an idea of someone she wishes she could be with. Being he’s sort of Bob’s foil…I don’t think he would ever be enough for Ruth. I think she wishes that were enough for her because he’s just such a great, sweet, loving guy.”

Mara may be in the public eye, but assured us she’s rarely recognized. “I can walk around anywhere.” She laughs when another journalist admits she’s surprised at that. But Mara agrees, “I do feel lucky.”

As much as she’s perceived as a star, she seems to still be able to live a normal life. She’s consistently working with films like Spike Jonze’s Her and the Untitled Terrence Malick project coming up.

But when asked about her hobbies she opens up, “I like to read a lot. I like to walk around different cities. My charity takes up a lot of time. It’s called Uweza…it’s sort of like the Boys and Girls club in Kenya, one of the largest slums in East Africa. We have a lot of enrichment programs. It’s very small.”

Casting Mara was no mistake. Known for her gritty roles, she definitely brings strength and passion to Ruth, “I was always trying to get a little more fire in there for her. I didn’t want her to just be this sympathetic mother…I wanted her to be more rounded than that.”