In our adult lives, complications arise on a normal basis, especially when looking through the lens of politics. What Michele Civetta’s new crime-thriller ‘The Gateway’ examines however, is just what that affect of our adult lives has on those around us, even our children.
In the film, social worker Parker (played by Shea Whigham) runs into Dahlia (Olivia Munn) and her daughter going through one of those downward trajectories that life puts us on, and although he doesn’t do a very good job of taking care of himself, Parker thrusts all of his energy into helping them both. What happens from then on out is a lot of heart-pounding situations curated by characters both in power and not who show that good and bad (cue Frank Grillo and Bruce Dern’s characters) isn’t always that easily discerned.
Both Wingham and Munn—whose relationship is the heart of this film—sat down to discuss what went into making ‘The Gateway.’
What made you both want to sign on with ‘The Gateway’ in the first place?
Olivia Munn: I loved a world that shows just the real-life complications of being an adult and how that can really affect not just the adults around [you], but also children. Honestly, for me, I loved my character, but Shea’s character I really related to so much…watching someone who has a past, who has had many different lives but is struggling to live in his present body and soul. I just thought that was so fascinating to watch how his character developed and then just seeing my character really bring in a different kind of pathway for him. To me, it was really a reflection of how complicated it is to be an adult.
Shea Whigham: I think for me it started with the script. I’m a huge fan of the ’70s, and it reminded me of Lumet (director Sidney Arthur Lumet), and then I’m a sucker for someone’s vision… Michele (Civetta) I think won us all over. Then when he started talking about Olivia, I’ve always loved her work from ‘X-Men’ to Sorkin, and Frank Grillo is a really good friend of mine—so it all really started coming together. This is one of those things where it didn’t disappoint, I loved every day being there with Olivia and all the kids on the film. So, I think what you see on screen is really what we viscerally felt making it.
The relationship between your characters specifically drives a lot of the heart of the film. How does that help propel this story from start to finish?
OM: Shea felt like family immediately… I like to think no one feels that way with him except for me. He has this way about him that, at least for me, I felt like I’ve known him my whole life whether we’re on camera or off—and you really can see that on camera with us. What you see with our two characters, we basically go on a soul journey together. We meet each other at these really extreme parts of our lives, which is not flattering for either one of us, but yet, our souls really have to attach to each other and you really watch as we try to maneuver and manage our way through really intense, really impactful moments in our lives.
SW: Speaking of Parker—he can’t take care of himself. I think to try to help himself he can take care of others—he’s a fierce defender of injustice. I think he really feels for Dahlia and her daughter and what I love about it is that there is no all good or all bad…it’s like real life where everybody I believe wants to be good, but it’s not always [that way.] But I think Parker really digs her…could Dahlia and Parker have been together in another life? Maybe, we flirted around with that, we talked about that at times… but we never went there, so you could keep that tension of the two. I’m really proud, I think Olivia just rock and rolled this and I mean it. I don’t say that lightly, it was a difficult part. It was tough, you go into these things and they’re tough, they’re hard to film, there’s no money, you’re up against it and you have no days. She came ready to play and that’s all I ever ask for.
OM: Thanks for saying that Shea. Shea was the most amazing captain. He came in with that energy every day, we worked on stuff outside of the days we were on set. With Dahlia, her whole life she took care of herself, she has a husband who doesn’t show up for her and then she’s got a daughter to take care of. So when Shea’s character comes in, you’re seeing someone for the first time seeing someone who wants to help and wants to take care of her and that’s a really foreign feeling. I think for a lot of people, if you’ve ever had to go through life taking care of yourself whether if it’s for your whole life or for moments, we all have that understanding of you get really used to just depending on yourself. So when somebody else comes in, it’s a very uncomfortable feeling. What you see is just that they have this immediate love and connection whether that’s played out or not, you see that they’re bonded to each other and it has nothing to do with a promise that they made to each other or that they were trying to get something more. She just found someone who truly wanted to take care of her, and that’s a lot to put through in your head and have to try to think about. How do you tear down all of that armor? So, we felt that on screen but we also felt it offscreen.
SW: Whenever I work whether it’s ‘Mission Impossible’ or this, you don’t try to push that on each other… it organically happens and it happens on screen.
What would you tell audiences to expect overall from this thriller?
SW: I think you said it, it’s a thriller at the end of the day. It’s exciting and we’re dealing with all of these relationships, therefore you care about the characters…but it’s a hell of a ride I think all throughout.
OM: What’s really interesting is that they are going through their own emotional journey and very complicated and intense points in their life. However, if you’re thrown into an ocean it doesn’t matter what you’re gong through—you’ve got the ocean to deal with. We’re just trying to swim— the two of us and my daughter, and we’re trying to make it through all of these waves and the storms that come in. So, it’s really interesting because the thriller aspect is such a huge part because you can’t ignore the storm, but no matter what’s going on in your life there is the storm. What was really fun for me to play is just the stuff [Dahlia] has to suppress to whether the storm and just to trust Shea even though it’s not in her instinct to do that. So watching people have to deal with the storm and also have to deal with each other and learn to trust each other throughout that is its own subsection of a thriller as well.
SW: Plus, when you have kids— you see someone in her position, someone who want’s to protect her kid…that’s the Everest of everything. She feels that throughout the whole film I think, even when she tries to push me away, it’s harder for her to say—which I think also makes it interesting to watch.
‘The Gateway’ opens in theaters, On Demand and digital Sept. 3 and will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray Sept. 7.