Having made a number of films set in the Midwest before venturing further afield — California, Hawaii, Paris — director Alexander Payne returns to his roots with "Nebraska," a new drama set in (and named after) his home state.
At the Envelope Screening Series, Payne talked about what drew him back to the Midwest for his latest film, which stars Bruce Dern as a cantankerous old man who recruits his adult son, played by Will Forte, to take him on a road trip to collect a supposed sweepstakes prize.
"I just like shooting in Nebraska," Payne said matter-of-factly. "I've always shot in Omaha, my home city, but that's the Paris of Nebraska." Tittering in the audience then prompted him to deadpan, "Why are you laughing?" He continued: "I had never spent much time in the rural areas [of Nebraska], and this was a nice way to spend time in the rural areas."
Payne also said that filling the frame with genuine Nebraskans helped create a believable world. "All the actors and extras, that's your most important production design — as well as being the cast — to suggest that world," he said. "There are many, many local non-actors in this film who have the right face and accent to really paint that world."
Asked if he had to get into a Midwest state of mind, actor and Illinois native Bob Odenkirk replied, "I don't really know if I need to get into the Midwestern [mindset]. It's who I am." To the contrary, he added, "I have to get into an L.A. mindset every day."
For more from the cast and crew of "Nebraska," watch the clip above.
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