Flora and Son premiered earlier this year during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival where fans were clapping along during the final song and gave the film a standing ovation when it ended. Hewson turns in a stupendous performance in the crowd-pleaser, which is one of my favorite films of the year. John Carney has a way of making movie magic and he does so again with this one. Two of the films songs are Oscar contenders: “Meet in the Middle” and “The High Life.”
Neither Hewson or co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt were able to participate in the film’s press tour in September because of the strike. They weren’t able to film a promotional bit with director John Carney and composer Gary Clark in July for the same reason. But now that a deal has been made, both actors were finally available to talk with press about the film.
Flora and Son is streaming on Apple TV+.
It’s so nice to see you again for the first time since Sundance.
Eve Hewson: I know. How are you doing?
I am doing well, all things considered.
Eve Hewson: Good, good.
What about yourself?
Eve Hewson: Doing really good. I’m so happy to finally come out and actually talk about the movie. I’m so proud of it so it’s so nice to speak to everybody and just say please watch our film.
Yeah. When I saw that Toronto selected the film, I was like, well, at least they had the red carpet premiere at Sundance.
Eve Hewson: Exactly. That’s how I felt, too.
Yeah. It’s still one of my favorite films of the year.
Eve Hewson: Oh, wow. Thank you. That’s great.
What was it about the script that drew you to the role?
Eve Hewson: Everything? I mean, I think, okay, probably the comedy at the beginning, just the character, Flora, in general. I just felt, as an Irish girl, as a Dublin girl, I really understood who she was, and all of her different temperaments. I just come off of Bad Sisters so I was really enjoying doing comedy and this was definitely like the dream comedy job. But as you get to the end of the script, I was in tears. It was so heartfelt. I just was taken on a sort of roller-coaster ride emotionally and I felt completely, completely in love with it.
What sort of prep did you do for the role?
Eve Hewson: A lot of prep, actually. I had two months to three months before we started shooting. I basically went out, I bought a guitar. I went on this app called Yousician, which is this weird, but great, almost video game way of learning how to play the guitar. I played guitar when I was younger but I totally hadn’t touched in 15 years. I sat there every day, trying to play the guitar, slicing my fingers open for two months. I did singing lessons because I’d never seen before and I was nervous about that. I had to kind of get my confidence and all of that. I had kind of a strict schedule every day for two months and then just a lot of time to think about Flora and how I wanted to play her and talking to John about different ideas. And yeah, it was a big, big undertaking as an actor because it was not just acting, I had to also be a musician and a singer at the same time. I needed a good bit of prep.
Did you feel any added pressure, either internal or exterior, when it came to performing the music and singing just because of who your father is?
Eve Hewson: Absolutely, I did in every way, internally, externally. It’s probably one of the reasons why I don’t sing. Just because people are always like, Oh, I’m sure you can sing like a songbird and I’m like, Not really (Laughs). It’s not like people’s expectations are very high. I’m much, much, much more comfortable playing the piano, playing the drums, acting. It wasn’t something that I really ever planned on doing or wanted to do. But I don’t know. I was just sort of like, I love this character. I’ve got to get over this weird little fear that I have and don’t let something like this run away from you just because you’re scared.
Yeah. How much direction did you require from John Carney?
Eve Hewson: Oh, so much. I mean, we were constantly sort of pushing each other and we had a really good relationship. With some directors, you work with them well, and it’s great but he and I really clicked. We have the same kind of appreciation for madness, eccentricity, and humor. We knew that we wanted Flora to be this big, bold, bright character and so we weren’t going to settle for anything less. That was on a daily basis—we were trying to find her, trying to push the limit. He would come in with notes and then I would come up with suggestions and we just try things in many different ways. That’s the best way to, I think, approach comedy as well as if you can have that kind of relationship with your director.
What was it like getting to work with the cast?
Eve Hewson: So much fun. I mean, we shot this film the summer in Dublin, and we all—it’s a small indie film so those are always really great and intimate. Orén Kinlan—this is his first film and he was so excited to play this part and his enthusiasm was quite infectious. I think we all felt we were conscious that this was his first movie experience and we wanted to make it really special for him. That ended up creating a lovely, fun, happy time on set.
What do you typically look for in a character when you’re reading a script?
Eve Hewson: That’s a good question. I mean, I like to sort of not predict anything. I like to sort of be surprised. There’s just got to be lots of different layers. Flora has so many layers. I like when characters can be really unlikable at times and then you sort of have to earn the audience’s love back. I like that she’s sort of all over the place and has many different moods. And yeah, there was something about her that I felt like I hadn’t seen before and I definitely hadn’t played before.
Are there any other things that you take into account when deciding on a project?
Eve Hewson: Usually the person that I want to work with because I think you can never predict how a film is going to end up. You can’t predict what’s going to happen in the edit or in the release or how people respond. You can make something that you think is great and nobody sees it or nobody likes it. So my kind of rule is, is there someone on this set—a director or writer or an actor or a producer that I can learn from and that can help me kind of grow as an actor. And so, John was that for me, obviously, on this job. I mean, there was many reasons to be on this one but I just wanted to learn from him and see how he does it. He’s got such a wild imagination that I knew it would be a really fun ride and it ended up being way more than I expected.
Is there anything that you’re looking forward to doing now that the strikes are over?
Eve Hewson: Working. We’re doing lots of working, which I’m thrilled about. I’m so so glad people actually—we can go out now and we can say like, Hey, we’ve this movie, check it out. It’s really great. You shouldn’t miss it. I think that was kind of heartbreaking just not being able to be a part of it. But yeah, it’s such a good relief that they’ve come to a deal and then we can sort of get back to business as usual.
I mean, just on a film critic side of things, I felt bad in a way that I could talk about these movies but the very people that put the hard work into them can’t.
Eve Hewson: Yeah, especially when you do something that you love and you’re really proud of and that’s the case with this film. And also, we—all the people, the producers, everyone, we all get on really well. We all love seeing each other and celebrating this film so I felt like a bit of FOMO that they were off promoting it and I couldn’t be with them.
Yeah, I know. I spoke with Gary Clark and John Carney around the time it was released. Gary had said that John had booked the studio for you all to film promo recording and it just happened to be the day after the strike or the day the strike started. They just ended up twiddling their thumbs.
Eve Hewson: Yeah, we had all these great wonderful plans to kind of show off the film and show off the songs and how the—because the process was so unique. I mean, it was so not like anything, I think—I don’t think anyone makes musicals the way that John does. We really wanted to talk about it but of course, literally the night before the strike hits so we couldn’t.
Well, I’m glad you’re getting to talk about the film now.
Eve Hewson: Thank you. Thank you, Danielle.
Thank you so much and have a great weekend and I will keep spreading my love of Flora and Son.
Eve Hewson: Please do. Thank you so much.