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Bradley Rust Gray on The Clash, The Fall, and Other Serendipities of "Jack and Diane"

In “Jack and Diane,” Juno Temple and Riley Keough share a first love quite unlike any other. Director Bradley Rust Gray shares some insights into how the movies’ musical influence came to be.

Bradley Rust Gray (The Exploding Girl) returned to Tribeca this spring with the world premiere of his latest film, Jack and Diane. A fresh take on first love, the film stars Juno Temple (Diane) and Riley Keough (Jack) as an odd couple whose chance meeting on the streets of New York awakens unpredicted feelings in them both.

Tribeca Film Festival Programmer Cara Cusumano wrote about Jack and Diane for Tribeca audiences: “Tomboy Jack and bubbly Diane fall head over heels in love one hot summer in New York City. But neither Jack’s tough exterior nor Diane’s demure innocence prepare them for the intensity of their feelings. When Diane reveals she must leave the city for school in Europe at the end of the summer, Jack pushes her away. As Diane struggles to maintain their budding romance, she must also try to conceal from Jack the increasingly dark and violent visions that have begun to plague her. 

Weaving horror elements into a distinctive and fresh yet timeless and universal first-love story, TFF alum Bradley Rust Gray applies his inimitable vision to this idiosyncratic story of the joys and terrors of first love. Riley Keough and Juno Temple bring a sweetness to their roles, which is offset by punctuations of macabre imagery to infuse their traditional summer love narrative with an ominous energy that is all the more evocative of their passionate love. It’s natural and beautiful, but also monstrous and frightening—and ultimately, like the film itself, wholly and wonderfully unique.”

Jack and Diane is currently available on VOD platforms, and on the eve of its theatrical release on November 2, we asked Bradley Rust Gray to share a story from the film’s production.

When we were on pre-production for Jack and Diane, we were looking for a photo of Juno as a child so that we could hang it in Aunt Linda’s apartment. I was visiting the actress who played Aunt Linda, Cara Seymour, and somehow it came up that her husband, Josh Cheuse, had taken a photo of Juno when she was a child and that he had known her because Juno’s father and Josh were both mutual friends with The Clash—a really serendipitous moment. Also, in the photo Juno is with her friend, who I think looks enough like her that we just kept the picture as is and presented it as an image of her and her twin sister.

This led us into thinking about using something from The Clash in the scene, as well. As it came to pass, the band gave us permission to use their album cover as Jack compliments Aunt Linda’s taste for having that CD.

The music that is actually playing in that scene, though, is The Fall. Both Cara and I wanted to find a song that dated Aunt Linda, but made her hip in her own way. Sort of cooler than you’d think—for those in the know. 

I was editing the film in Berlin and hanging out with a friend at a playground. And while our kids were running around together, he mentioned he had done an album with Mark E. Smith. I went home, listened to the song (by Von Südenfed) and fell in love with it, so we have that track at the start of the film and in turn we were able to get The Fall for Aunt Linda’s song. Again, a moment where things fall in place when you're not particularly looking for them.  

Jack and Diane is now available on VOD, and opens in theaters on November 2. Find tickets.

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