Peter and Vandy is a film that focuses on modern day relationships. The film uses a non-chronological storytelling convention to give deeper insight into how people reflect over specific moments in their love lives. Peter and Vandy is a film that’s meant for any person who’s experienced a long-term relationship where they’ve stopped and asked themselves, “How did we get here?” The stars of Peter and Vandy, Jason Ritter and Jess Weixler sat down with Working Author to discuss their experiences and opinions on the film.
What really distinguishes the film is the natural writing and acting. It’s the kind of film that will speak to everyone, because the film features experiences that everyone has shared. It’s always impressive when actors are able to represent their emotions with 100-percent fidelity to reality and Working Author was curious to find out how much they drew upon personal experience and how much was intellectualized.
“For me,” Jason Ritter says, “it was a little bit of both. I took as much from my life as far as Peter’s insecurity and his apologizing for himself all the time. And then a lot of it was created between Jess and I. We would just get together and talk about as we were shooting. So it was both intellectual and instinctual.”
“OK, you fall in love,” Jess Weixler adds, “That’s one thing. How do you live with the person you fall in love with? That’s seems like a totally different issue to me. It’s a very confusing thing to try to figure out how to sustain a loving relationship. For the movie it was drawing on my life, but mostly it was actually getting to work with Jason. We talked very early on about a level of trust with each other so that we could take our walls down and talk about real things and be close and let each other in.”
“That’s the stuff that had to be found between the two of us,” Ritter concludes, “because if we had both come straight to it saying, ‘this is how I am in relationships’…we would have been in separate relationships just doing our own thing. The dynamic had to be created between the two of us. Jay [DiPietro] really thought about these characters to such a high degree that we really couldn’t find the bottom of them as we were searching for who they were.”
On difficulties working together, Weixler says, “No, we hit one day where we realized the scene wasn’t written in a way that made sense anymore. It was the ‘Are They Going to Break Up’ scene. It all happened way too fast and it didn’t seem like the way these characters would be. All of the respect and love they had for each other wasn’t there….So we refigured the scene in the middle of the shoot.”
Peter and Vandy features one of the best relationship-fight scenes in any movie about relationships. Everyone can agree that most relationship-fights are about one thing, but are really about another thing. In the film, Peter and Vandy have an epic argument over how many knives should be used when making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Peter thinks one knife is enough. Vandy disagrees.
“It’s fascinating actually,” Weixler exclaims, “because we are in reverse!”
“I am a two-knife guy,” Ritter confesses. “I guess one-knife people assume that the peanut butter is going to stick to the knife, but how do you know that just little bit hasn’t gone into the jelly?”
Then Weixler points out, “They actually make those jars with the peanut butter and jelly in them! It’s not like they’re going to infect each other. And you wipe the knife off….”
“Here’s a question,” Ritter says, turning to Weixler, “What about a day when you just want to have a piece of toast with some jelly on it? And you go and scoop it and suddenly there’s peanut butter in your jelly toast.”
“Well if you cleaned off the knife well enough, there’s not going to be peanut butter in your jelly.” To conclude the argument, Weixler offered to let us taste the jelly from her jelly jars to see if we could detect peanut butter. Getting back to the film, Working Author was surprised to find out that the script was essentially written out of order as well, which seems like the hard way to make a film like this. “Reading [the screenplay] was tricky. We definitely had to go over the timeline. I color-coded my script…because you’re dealing with so many years in the script, but we got it down. Then [Jay DiPietro] kind of color-coded the movie. I don’t know if it’s obvious.”
Finally, in regards to the non-linear storytelling providing more insight into the presented relationship, Ritter offers, “I think so, because you get to this juxtaposition of extremes. Generally, if you’re telling a linear story it all has to build to a certain thing…in a general direction. By the time you get to the screaming fight…you’ve seen the slow demise of their relationship. Whereas if you see the screaming fight and then a scene where they’re really in love with each other it’s not so easy to say, ‘well they shouldn’t be together’.”
Peter and Vandy is already in theaters. Take the time to watch this movie. You’ll have a fantastic time.