Caitlin Fitzgerald and Edward Burns, as Katie and Buzzy, find their blissful new life disrupted by the arrival of a relative in “Newlyweds,” a New York City production helmed by Burns.
Updated: February 16, 2012 8:10AM
Just because he’s married to supermodel Christy Turlington doesn’t mean that director-writer-actor Edward Burns doesn’t still engage in single guy behavior.
“I’m sure I drive my wife crazy,” Burns admits. “I do those dumb little guy things that women hate. I don’t put the dishes in the sink. I do leave socks on the floor.”
It turns out that these little annoyances are actually fodder for his new film “Newlyweds” — shot for a mere $9,000 — about the ups and downs of happily ever after. The film revolves around Buzzy and Katie, who find their blissful new life is disrupted by the arrival of his half-sister.
“I did a lot of research into marriage for this film,” says Burns, who also called the shots on the now-classic New York films “The Brothers McMullen” and “She’s the One.”
“The funny thing I found out from speaking to formerly married couples who are now divorced was that it wasn’t the big, catastrophic events like an infidelity that broke them up. More times than not, it was the little, petty things that seemed to carry no weight and then piled on top of each other over 18 years. Those things can crush a marriage. The key was you have to clear the air and not let it fester and grow.”
Burns also stars in the Jan. 27 thriller “Man on a Ledge,” playing a New York cop trying to talk a man (Sam Worthington) off a you-know-what.
1 “Newlyweds” seems like such an obvious idea and title for a movie. What sparked this idea for you?
Well, I’ve been married for a while. Then I was at a dinner party two years ago for a friend’s 10th wedding anniversary. Someone made a toast and said, “In this day and age, if this marriage ends tonight you could still call it a success.” Obviously, I used that line in the movie. How true and how tragic! That inspired me to think of this film and explore different chapters of marriage. I also wanted to do a companion piece to “Sidewalks of New York.” I fell upon this pseudo-doc style to do it.
2 Does it feel good to direct another New York-based movie?
It’s funny. I made a couple of movies that didn’t find their audience. Look, that happens and there is any number of reasons why. Maybe the film is not as good or the marketing isn’t right. I have to think of it like a musician. You keep doing your thing and realize you gotta always stay true to what you do. There will be a period when what you do falls out of favor. The key is don’t think you gotta change your game. What you do will come back into favor. It’s great advice. That’s why I made “Newlyweds” for $9,000 with a two-man crew.
3 You’ve also used iTunes and social media to promote this film.
I’m using social media, specifically Twitter. Two years ago, a friend of mine who is an indie film guru said, “It’s harder and harder to reach an audience. They’re just not going to the theaters in the same way they used to, and you need 5,000 true fans for a smaller project. They will work on your behalf if you engage with them on Twitter.” Now, I hear from fans, “You know that movie of yours I didn’t see in the theater? I saw it on iTunes and video.” There’s enough of an audience that I can still make movies and stay in business this way.
4 Tell us about “Man on a Ledge.”
It’s a great thriller. One day I actually put on a harness and stepped out onto the ledge of this skyscraper in New York City. It was a weird thing. Intellectually and rationally, I knew I was safe. But the minute you step out there, your body tells you something different. I’m blown away by how Sam Worthington did this ledge work every single day. So did Elizabeth Banks. It’s one thing to go out on a ledge for a few days on an action film to film a stunt. This entire film is Sam on that ledge, and he’s not just doing a stunt, but he’s really acting on the ledge. These are real scenes between the two of them, and that took an incredible amount of focus.
You’re going back to your Irish roots to direct “The Fitzgeralds’ Family Christmas.” Wasn’t Tyler Perry instrumental in getting you back to your beginnings?
I was acting with Tyler Perry in the upcoming “I, Alex Cross.” The franchise has been rebooted with Tyler in the Morgan Freeman role in a much more procedural film. Tyler and I play childhood best friends and detectives in Detroit, with Matthew Fox as the bad guy. Anyway, Tyler and I had lunch, and he had just rewatched “The Brothers McMullen.” He said, “Why don’t you make more movies like this, Eddie?” I had no explanation. He said, “‘McMullen’ is your most critically acclaimed film and ‘She’s the One’ is your most successful. They’re both about Irish families.” In 15 years, I haven’t gone back to the well. Tyler said, “Take some advice from me, someone who knows about super-serving their niche. You have an audience waiting for you to tell stories about Irish Americans.” So, I walked right to my trailer and wrote, “Interior of Fitzgeralds’ kitchen.” By the time I finished the movie with Tyler, I had my first draft done, and we’re filming the movie for $30,000.”
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