EXCLUSIVE: Bonnie Wright Talks “The Highway Is for Gamblers”, “Potter” Memories!
by Kat Miller · Published · Updated
We recently learned that Potter alumna Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) had landed a new role in indie film The Highway Is for Gamblers. In an exclusive interview with MuggleNet, Bonnie Wright discusses this amazing new project, as well as her time in film school and of course, Harry Potter.
The Highway Is for Gamblers is the story of Heidi and Jane, played by Bonnie and Nikki Reed, respectively.
Heidi and Jane are best friends living in a sprawling desert community. After a series of relationship problems mars their friendship, Jane goes missing at a rodeo. Heidi begins a search across the desert for her friend, digging up secrets and encountering the violence of life on the road, crossing paths along the way with a series of unusual men in her hope for an honest connection in a dishonest world. Heidi is constantly searching for people who don’t want to be found. She is open and trusting, and in the universe the film is set, these things karmically add up and play against her.
The Highway Is for Gamblers is currently in Kickstarter stage, where you can take part in this amazing project. Pledges start as low as $1!
We wouldn’t be MuggleNet if we didn’t ask Bonnie at least a few Harry Potter questions. So this time, we decided to source them from you, the fans! We asked multiple questions thanks to a few Twitter users.
Transcribed by Marissa Osman
Kat Miller: Let's chat about The Highway Is for Gamblers. I was doing a little bit of research on it last night before we chatted about it, and I found that it's a line from a Bob Dylan song, which I didn't know. The song is It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. Is there any inspiration there that you know of?
Bonnie Wright: I'm not sure. That would be interesting to ask Alexandra, who's directing. I knew it was from that song; I know that song well. But trying to draw a reference from it, I'm guessing. It's not a very hopeful song, so I guess in terms of her having a hopeful ending, it's not that hopeful for Heidi's character.
Kat: True. That makes sense. When I was talking to Mark Lee about the project - for those who don't know, the Executive Producer - he told me that you were really excited about this film as a way to tell a more personal story and to work closely with a writer/director, in a female-focused film. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Bonnie: Obviously, for me, being that there are [fewer] chances to work with a female director and I think, to tell a really truthful female story. I find more and more I read scripts, or see films, or read books, and it's often very hard to find a female character that you feel is really truthful or you can identify with. So it's definitely refreshing for me. I think it's also the fact that you've got these two female leads. It's not just the one that's supporting the other, it's very much the story of two girls and that dialogue that happens between them. Knowing the dialogue I can have between girlfriends of mine, it feels very real and truthful, and I think that's because it's clear that it's a female voice in the writing. Having been written by a woman. So I think that is refreshing in an unfortunate world where there are [fewer] female directors and filmmakers.
Kat: That is rare these days. That's true. Have you met your co-stars yet?
Bonnie: I have not. It's kind of bizarre, filmmaking and acting, knowing that most of the time you end up meeting the people you're about to spend a whole month with and perform alongside quite right up to the filming. So I won't be seeing them probably until a bit before the shoot with I go out to the West Coast.
Kat: Okay. A Twitter question from handle @BWrightLove. She wants to know if you're excited to work with your co-stars Nikki, Joe, and Gustaf.
Bonnie: Yeah, I'm really excited. I think we've got a really great mixture of cast [members] from all the different previous genres of film, so I think it'll be great. I think it's definitely a good mixed bunch in terms of visually, for the audience to watch and enjoy, and I always really enjoy meeting new people, and I think that's why I definitely have always really responded to filmmaking because it's so about coming together and collaborating with other people and meeting new people. To me, that's always a fun, exciting part; the mystery of the new people I'm about to meet and also you can always learn from other people and when you work with a new actor. You're always learning something from them and sharing something with them which is enjoyable.
Kat: Is that happening soon? When does filming start? Where is it going to be?
Bonnie: We're shooting in November. Early to mid-November, we start, and we're based out of Barstow in California, in the Mojave Desert. So I'll probably be going out to the West Coast in the beginning of November. You're talking about maybe three or four weeks, heading out.
Kat: Oh, good. You'll get a nice warm vacation. That's nice.
Bonnie: I'll be chasing the sun because we don't have it here at the minute in London. [laughs]
Kat: Exactly. [laughs] Any word on approximately when they want to release the film?
Bonnie: No. I don't know. It's a difficult thing with independent films. It draws out a little bit longer than studio productions. So if they shoot it this year, then obviously the editing process takes a couple of months. Obviously, the director's last project, Lotus Eaters, had [a] really good reception at different film festivals, so she definitely already got a name for herself with her directing. Once the film is completed, there's definitely an existing audience that she has, as well, for her own work, so that will speed things along. I'm guessing summer next year.
Kat: Okay. Sounds good. Another Twitter question here from @JKRiordan13. This person wants to know if you can describe the project in one word.
[Bonnie makes contemplating noises]
Kat: I should have warned you about this one. Sorry.
Bonnie: The word "distanced", maybe?
Kat: Hm. Okay. Why would you say that?
Bonnie: Well, I think Heidi feels distanced from any sense of belonging. She feels far away from any sense of home. She's obviously distanced from her lover that she's waiting to come out of prison that never comes. She feels distanced in the end from Jane. And I think she's just distanced from her own existence, and a big part of the film is definitely about passing through and traveling and never really belonging and being quite transient. I'd say "distanced" or "transient" is also a good one.
Kat: What drew you to the project and to this character?
Bonnie: I think, like I said before, instantly when you read two female characters' dialogue and you really believe it and can identify with it from having similar-isms and chats with my own girlfriends, that's something I really warmed to with the writing. I think I also warmed to the fact that It was a female writer and director. For me, I've always really loved films that really use the landscape as something that becomes almost a character. The landscape that we're all in has a real significance to each character. And in my own filmmaking that I do, and my own writing and directing, and my own passion for film, often the landscape is quite a big character in my projects. I really love the desert. I really love the landscape of California. So I think that's what really also stood out to me. This idea that we'll be out to make the film in this bleak expanse of the desert, visually, is something really appealing. And I think, also, as an actress, it's amazing when you can make a film that's really on location and it's experiencing actual, real, live, events rather than studio-based films that are all on sets. Sometimes it's really refreshing to be out in the open air shooting something.
Kat: Just as a final word here, what can you say to fans who are thinking about backing the project. Why should they? Why is this one special?
Bonnie: Well, I think the whole idea that we live in a generation that is all about crowd-funding and projects through Kickstarter, and I think it's a great way if you're interested in film or you're passionate about film as a whole, it's a great way to be involved and understand filmmaking a bit more and feel like you can have an intimate connection to the process. And then also if you're fans of the people in the film, making the film, it's a great way to get to know them and feel closer to the project. I think it's generally you get so much closer to the project, and you become part of a creative process. I think it's also great just to show your support. I think if you like to go watch films. More and more now we get to watch so much for free. So many people don't go to the cinema. They download things [off] the Internet, or they watch TV or YouTube, and it's a great way to give your support through donating to the arts as well.
Kat: I agree completely. Very good. I wanted to take a moment since you mentioned your own love for film and your own projects. Separate We Come, Separate We Go. I loved that. Just wanted to say that. Put that out there. When you mentioned the expansive landscape and all that, that's immediately what I thought of. Is the "indie film", so to say, really the route that you're looking to go in the immediate future at least?
Bonnie: Into the independent film world?
Kat: Yeah. As opposed to the studio stuff.
Bonnie: I guess. Obviously, ten years of my life at the beginning of my career in film was studio films, and they taught me a huge amount. I think the language of film, no matter if it's studio film or it's an independent film or it's [a] short film or a music video, that language is universal, and in all very different ways, everyone's just telling stories. And I think, for me, since finishing Harry Potter, it's just been a natural thing that a lot of projects I've done have ended up being independent films. And an actual passion with my own filmmaking, that's obviously independent filmmaking. So I don't think it's been a really conscious decision that I only wanted to focus [on] independent film, but with independent film, it's much more accessible as a young filmmaker and a young actress. It's a great way to learn your craft because there are more of them being made and different things. I think for me, it's probably just become a type of filmmaking that really appealed to me just in the sense of its scale. I was so used to huge productions and loads of people with Harry Potter, and it's just been a really nice thing that you work with a few [fewer] people and you feel like you're really creating something together, collaboratively. And there's a different, more intimate energy. You're a little bit more part of the final piece.
Kat: Right. I know what you mean. You mentioned music videos. You've been doing some of those yourself, right? Who have you worked with?
Bonnie: I did two music videos. I did one a few years ago with a friend of mine called George Schuster. That was on my Vimeo page. That was called Sea Ess. And then I did a great one, again, in the desert, which I shot all in Joshua Tree in California with my friend who's another actress, Sophie Lowe, who writes music under her name SOLO. We had an amazing time shooting a music video in Joshua Tree, in California, out of the back of a car. And again, my love for landscapes is very much shown in that. And that was premiered, and it's on nowness.com which is a video and pictorial website that premiere a project by an artist every day.
Kat: Oh, wow. That's cool. I'll have to check that one out.
Bonnie: Every day they have a new video or a new series of photographs and it always premiers through that website, so the work you see every day has never been seen before apart from through that website.
Kat: We wouldn't be MuggleNet if we didn't take just the last couple of minutes here to talk about Potter, if you don't mind. A couple [of] very random questions. If you could mimic the career of any of your Potter co-stars, who would you choose?
Bonnie: I'll tell you. I was at this the other day. Before the British Film Festival that's on now, the British Film Institute had a dinner, and Julie Walters was there. She received a lifetime achievement - along with Stephen Fry - for comedy to film and how much joy and fun she's brought so many people. They did this amazing compilation of everything Julie Walters had been in, made me think of all of her great comedic timing. Looking back at all the projects she made, they were so fun, and she looked like she had such a great time making them. From that experience last week, Julie Walters' career looks pretty fun, and she's still going strong. To me, on the films, she was so close to me because obviously, she was playing my mother, so she definitely was a great inspiration to me when I was young because she had that free spirit and confidence that I really was drawn to.
Kat: We all love Julie Walters. She's amazing. One more question here. If you could relive a single time on the Potter set, what time would that be? What movie would it be during?
Bonnie: The beauty of David cleverly bringing everyone together for the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of the film was just an amazing way to see everyone for a last hurrah of this amazing project we'd all been a part of. And it was just amazing that all of us were literally came together in one room. There was a big bit that's at the end in the Great Hall that was great fun. The bit where there's the dual that kills Bellatrix, that was really fun because everyone was in the room at the same time. So that'd be fun to recreate. I also loved all the early days in the Gryffindor Common Room because it was such a warm and cozy set. You saw less and less of that, almost, as the film went on. We had great Gryffindor Common Room scenes at the end of the fourth or fifth one. But I would say the Battle of Hogwarts, probably.
Kat: Great. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us this morning. I don't want to keep you any longer. Just tell the listeners, or the fans, where they can find out more information about The Highway Is for Gamblers.
Bonnie: You can check out The Highway Is for Gamblers Kickstarter. You can also find them on Twitter at @HighwayGamblers. If you just check out the Kickstarter or go through my Twitter, which is @thisisbwright, it will encourage you to be a part of the project and be apart of the process with us, and you'll get to see things other fans won't get to see, and different behind the scenes videos and posters, or even come to the screening when we make the film. I think it's a great way if you're fanatic about film to support it.
Excited to see this film come to life? Will you be donating to The Highway Is for Gamblers? Let us know in the comments below.