Director Q&A - In America

November 15, 2003 Jim Sheridan

While not strictly autobiographical, In America, about an Irish family's experiences making New York their new home, was inspired by events in the director's life and was co-written with his daughters.

"Kirsten had written and directed a few films, and Naomi had written scripts," Sheridan explained. "They took my script, and what I thought they were going to do was fix it. But what they did was change it. My character in their script was a guy who was never in the house, his head was in the clouds, he sang songs he didn't know the words to, and when he was drunk he told them he loved them."

While revising the script further, he made the decision to give the story an even more personal underpinning. "I had the idea of taking a story I always wanted to make about my brother Frankie who died. In a way I kind of slipped in to being my father and my daughter became me."

"It seems to me that part of the job of the director is really gauging the emotions, not only with the performances, but of the entire story," remarked Jones. "Especially in a film like this which is built up of details of emotions that cumulatively bring out the handkerchiefs. How do you go about calibrating that?"
"That's the really good question." Sheridan pondered for a moment. "The human face has 800 muscles, so the sophistication of reading what's in the human face is hard, and in a funny way women, historically, have been better at it than men. I think a lot of directors are like that too."

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