Ruth De Jong
And that’s constantly my goal. In the same article actor Cillian Murphy said,
There’s something in the air and in the atoms of the place and it confers a kind of responsibility on you, as a performer, and a responsibility on Chris also, as director. When you’re shooting in these real places where the people you’re portraying lived their lives, it adds a level of respect, and I think the audience subconsciously feels that.
When you hear that you just get goosebumps because it’s like, It is worth it!
AS: Was director David Lynch also involved in the design and look when you worked on his series Twin Peaks?
RDJ: Oh my God yes! David is also the ultimate fine artist. To this day a working painter, photographer, musician. He draws, he builds. So much. He’d give me stacks of his paintings and drawings. This is this set. This is that set. He’d say, Give me that pad of paper and a pen. And he would close his eyes and draw a box and draw a bed, all with his eyes closed. He’d draw a camera angle and say, This is how I’m shooting this scene. And I’m like, Great, I need this bed and this side-table and this lamp.
David is obsessed with the 1950s so even when it’s present day he still loves those timeless 1950s pieces. The rotary phone and the blinds. We knew what direction to lean into. Obviously my team and I watched the first and second season of Twin Peaks. We watched Fire, Walk With Me, and we infused ourselves with David Lynch. To me Twin Peaks is a visual diary of his work and I’m his conduit.
As a whole, being a production designer, unlike being a painter where what is coming off the brush is my choice, I see myself as a worker for the director. I am a chameleon for what they want executed. It’s less about my flair or my taste or my design or my aesthetic, instead it’s, What does this script need to be? What do they want it to be? How does that look? Often I’ll get interviewed and they ask, What’s your style? I’m not looking to plaster an overarching, personal look into every film I do. The whole point is the opposite. It’s, How do I become invisible? How do the words come alive? How I create has nothing to do with me personally, other than the choices I make. But I make those choices in consideration of the director’s desires. It’s fascinating to be a ghost designer of sorts, like a ghost writer. How am I speaking for them, through design? How am I speaking for Chris? How am I speaking for Kenny? How am I speaking for Jordan? How am I speaking for David? How am I erasing myself and just doing that? That’s why I never get upset when a director says something like, Oh, I really want this room to be “X” color. I am hired for my discretion, execution and vision so I’ll provide all the backup and all the facts and all the reasons of why I did what I did, and how I came to the place I came to, but at the end of the day if there’s some curveball I’m like, Great, let’s lean right into that. But that doesn’t happen often.
AS: Would you say that interaction leads to the film to become greater than the sum of its parts? Like when Rick Carter says, I have no toes to step on. What you’re serving is the story and the film, you’re not serving–
RDJ: Yourself. Ego can’t exist in this world. There’s just not room or space for that.