be­hind the biopic

Empire (UK) - - ON. SCREEN -

Di­rec­tor Gus Van Sant re­veals the peo­ple be­hind the char­ac­ters of the film

ANNU (Rooney Mara) “There was a real Annu, but I ex­tended her char­ac­ter into the later part of John’s life, which didn’t re­ally hap­pen. He had a num­ber of girl­friends. I al­lowed Annu to con­tinue be­ing the main girl­friend in his life. She was very im­por­tant and sta­bil­is­ing. Rooney brought this ethe­real qual­ity.”

DEX­TER (Jack Black)“The char­ac­ter Jack plays is some­body you can run into at par­ties. Some­one for whom the world is open to any­thing and ev­ery­thing. In real life, Dex­ter had in­sur­ance, and part of a set­tle­ment [meant] that he and John didn’t see each other any longer.” john nu­gent

DONNY (Jonah Hill) “There was only a small chap­ter in [John’s mem­oir] about Donny. He seemed to be very au­thor­i­ta­tive and bossy. He liked to fly to NYC to go to gay clubs. We could never re­ally find who he might have been. Ac­cord­ing to John, he died of AIDS in 1988.”

JOHN (Joaquin Phoenix)“I first heard about John [Cal­la­han] when he was be­ing printed in my lo­cal Port­land, Ore­gon news­pa­per. I met him in the late ’80s. You’d see him on his wheel­chair, speed­ing down the street.”

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