BY DAVID RUSSELL
Academy Award winner Chris Cooper spoke at the Museum of the Moving Image recently with the writer and actors of the new movie “Coming Through The Rye.”
Cooper plays reclusive author J.D. Salinger, who is visited by a teenage fan. Cooper put a lot of work into the role, studying Salinger for what is roughly 10 minutes of screen time. “I always think in my head I make the leads work harder,” Cooper told the audience after the screening. “I come from the theater. Honestly, no role is too small and I thought, I hoped I could bring something to this character.”
The movie is based on the true story of writer-director-producer James Sadwith. Sadwith spent years making TV movies but was always asked when he would tell his Salinger story. “Finally in about 2012, I said if I’m ever going to do a feature film, which is what I always wanted to do, I’ve got to do it now,” Sadwith said.
According to the website IMDB, “Coming Through The Rye” is about a young man in 1969, who is obsessed with J.D. Salinger’s book “The Catcher In The Rye” and its main character, Holden Caulfield The young man, Jamie Schwartz, played by Alex Wolf, runs away from boarding school to find the reclusive author J.D. Salinger. The young man’s search, mimicking that of “Rye,” becomes a journey of sexual awakening, love and loss.
Sadwith first wanted to make it into a book. “My wife read the book and she said, ‘You’re not a novelist.’”
Sadwith simply searched the internet for how to make an independent film. “I knew no Hollywood studio was going to make this into a movie,” Sadwith said. “They just don’t make these movies.”
Alex Wolff, who resembles a young Sadwith according to the director, plays the lead role. He auditioned in New York and then connected with Sadwith over Skype.
Stefania LaVie Owen was going to high school in New Zealand and hadn’t read the script when she auditioned on tape. After some more auditioning with Sadwith over Skype, she landed the role as the friend who helps the main character find Salinger.
To play the author of “Catcher In The Rye,” Sadwith thought of Cooper, who had worked with him on the TV movie “In Broad Daylight.” “I’m very slow in committing,” Cooper said. “I let him sweat for two or three days, but said I would just love to be aboard on this. This is such a lovely script.”
Cooper, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 2002 movie “Adaptation,” was forced to wear prosthetic eyebrows. It proved to be so much work for the makeup crew that they asked Cooper if he could just keep them on . “I lost one of the eyebrows,” Cooper said. “I’m in bed with my wife and we’re looking for an eyebrow at four in the morning.”