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Peter and Vandy: A Relationship in Fast Forward

We sit down with the adorable Jason Ritter and Jess Weixler, two actors to root for, as they talk about their roles in the relationship movie Peter and Vandy.

Peter and Vandy

Peter and Vandy, a virtual two-hander starring Jason Ritter and Jess Weixler as the titular couple, is the story of a long-term relationship, and all that entails: its ups and downs, from sweet romance to blowout flights over making a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. Adapted from a 2002 play from writer/director Jay DiPietro, the film also shares a certain trick with another Sundance 2009 alum, 500 Days of Summer, as the story is told out of order.

But the two films differ in their approach; 500 Days of Summer shows Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) growing up and figuring out the mysteries of love, whereas the New York-set Peter and Vandy is very much about both characters, the push-and-pull of their relationship, and how goofy architect Peter is changed by spiky art gallerista Vandy and vice versa. If you've been with "the one," you may recognize yourself in these characters.

Tribeca talked to the adorable Ritter and Weixler last week when they were in town for a press day. The talented twosome (Ritter's great in The Education of Charlie Banks and the Juilliard-trained Weixler made a huge splash with Teeth) are at an interesting point in their careers, and they were refreshingly earnest interviewees, while also displaying an enviable camaraderie. And you'll see them in more projects coming up: Ritter has a slew of independent films in "various stages of editing," while Weixler is working on an adaptation of the T. C. Boyle story "The Lie" with Mark Webber and Humpday's Joshua Leonard.

Tribeca Film: Let's start with the elephant question. How is this film different from 500 Days of Summer?

Jason Ritter: There are many different things, in my opinion. 500 Days tells you, at every point, where they are in their relationship. In ours, the audience is engaged in trying to figure out where these people are, so you have to take other kinds of cues. That film is about people at the beginning of their relationship but eventually not falling in love; and ours is about falling in love and the battles of staying in love.

Tribeca Film: The meat, I guess.

Jess Weixler: I think the whole thing about Peter and Vandy is how do you live with the person who you fell in love with? Can you live with this human being that you fell in love with, and what time does with the day-ins and day-outs, the best and the worst, it's sort of a smattering of the entire picture [of a relationship].

Tribeca Film: How did casting work for you two?

JW: I had an awesome meeting with Jay where we really got along. It was very cinematic at the end, because it was raining and I was late going to something and running off with his umbrella over me. I lost my shoe as I ran for the taxi and he took my shoe and put it on my foot as I got in the cab. It's the most Cinderella story I've been privy to in my real life, very anti-Peter and Vandy. It was a good sign. Everything felt right and very cool and then he found me my perfect Peter. We [Weixler and Ritter] just met a day or two before shooting. Because we shot mostly in order, we kind of got to get to know each other and do all that flirty, what makes that person laugh—

Tribeca Film: Out of order order or chronological order?

JR: We kind of shot in order.

JW: In chronological order, which was very helpful.

JR: It was written pretty close to how it came out in the end. It was written with this messy chronology, but we shot it in order.

JW: It's usually the complete other way around.

JR: I think there are some things that are—if not impossible—harder to fake, and one of those is not knowing someone, really, at all. And another one of those is looking at someone and having a history with that person. The last scene in the whole shoot was at a wedding and that, chronologically, was the last scene, and that was the last scene we shot and we were supposed to have gone through everything these characters had gone through. And it did feel like that, a relationship on fast forward. We had flirted and fallen in love and gotten bored with each other and screamed and had good times and bad times and, you know, we were able to feel that when we were looking at each other.

Tribeca Film: How do you think this piece translated from the theater to film?

JW: There's something about film where you can get inside somebody's mind a little easier than theater. In particular, I think it's the way we're looking at each other. Because we're talking about such crap. We're talking around our issues and when we finally get to the point, it's always been there. You could tell we knew what the other person was talking about all along. I think the camera could really see that.

Tribeca Film: So it's the magic of the two-shot. Were there any particular challenges to shooting in New York?

JR: There wasn't as many sort of straight up challenges, but it was somewhat challenging as we had a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time. It was challenging in a pleasant sort of way. Like when you're going to school and in a class that you're challenged by and your mind is turned on, rather than a class you hate. You're excited to do the hard work if you like it.

Peter and Vandy

Tribeca Film: Shoot, I forgot my question. It's a little disconcerting, you know, you two sitting there. You guys have matching eyes!

JW: We found out we also have the same middle name: Morgan. It's crazy, it's not a popular name.

JR: Actually, weirdly enough, we found that out on our first "date."

JW: Yeah! We did.

JR: So it was the day we were shooting our first date, sitting across from each other. There were a lot of things that seemed to happen like that, by accident, but that really fed into that whole thing. The idea that on that first date, we could've felt something that made us feel weirdly connected—

JW: Sort of like, Wow! Who are you?—

JR: And a little scared of being related. [laughs]

Tribeca Film: What did you get out of doing this film?

JW: Working on it, I definitely got Jason out of it, and now I have this person in the world that's very special to me. Out of the movie world, I got out of it—or I hope people get out of it—that perfect moments are not always the best ones or the most important ones or the most cinematic ones, maybe!

JR: I came away from it with... also Jess, who I am very grateful for, and I'm not just saying it because you're right here. I was surprised how sort of invigorated it all felt and how enjoyable it all felt, even the days we were hating each other. How love finds its way into all of those moments. The angriest and most insecure parts of yourself, those are the things that make you treat the people you love in a certain way—it doesn't justify it—but it was nice to have that stuff acknowledged. It doesn't mean you have a disagreement and it's time for a divorce.

Tribeca Film: It's the choice aspect of love.

JW: Or it's what can I stand. That's the question you have to ask yourself when you get into a relationship. What can I stand?

Peter and Vandy is now playing in New York and L.A. Catch it at the Village East Cinemas in New York. Click here for ticket information.


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