Writer/Director Dan Brown and Star Jessica Garza Talk ‘Your Lucky Day’
What would you do if you had the winning ticket for a $156 million lottery jackpot? Everybody has a different answer, but that’s the question at the center of writer and director Dan Brown’s upcoming thriller Your Lucky Day. Well, sort of.
Angus Cloud’s Sterling isn’t the one who purchases the lucrative piece of paper, but he’s determined to reap the financial rewards regardless of the cost, which covers shootouts, dead bodies, corrupt cops, and a convenience store full of hostages.
One of the characters caught up in the maelstrom is Jessica Garza’s Ana Marlene, a heavily-pregnant women who finds herself plunged into a dangerously escalating situation, although the way it resolves itself is unpredictable to say the least.
Ahead of its release, We Got This Covered had the chance to speak to Brown and Garza about the movie, managing to balance its ever-shifting tones, twists, and turns, trying to find humor in the absurdity of the situation, what they would do if they scooped the jackpot and much more, which you can check out below.
It’s been over a decade since the short, and almost two years since you shot the movie, so what’s the overriding feeling now knowing that Your Lucky Day is finally on the verge of releasing at last?
Dan Brown: I feel great! I think it’s been… after I did the short, I ended up just kind of getting into doing commercials, like advertising, and then really wanting to make a movie. So for me, it’s been this thing that’s been on my mind for a long time. And I finally had, you know, kind of a moment to go make it. So really excited that it’s kind of, you’ve got to hold on; I always hold on to these ideas until we can kind of get it done.
And so it’s wonderful to have it done and out in the world. So there’s just like a tremendous release there. That’s the number one thing I have right now. And just sort of the crazy, like, I’ve been doing away a bunch, because I haven’t lived in LA, but I shoot here all the time. So it’s been fun to be like here now, not only commercial, but like releasing the movie. So that’s been just kind of like a wonderful feeling.
Jessica Garza: Yeah, it’s such a win. I mean, I don’t have tons of experience filming indies, but from what I understand, based on a lot of what my actor friends will say, is you never know where they will go, if anywhere! You know, you do these things, you do them kind of in a rush like everybody’s doing multiple jobs, everybody’s wearing multiple hats, everybody is doing their best to get an indie done.
And sometimes it’s a year before you ever see it, sometimes it’s two, sometimes it’s 10! And so I consider us to have a huge win here, that we shot this film for little money in 16 days and nights, and only two years later, or less than two years later it’s here, and it’s going into theaters, that is a huge accomplishment and a huge one. So congratulations, Dan, and to everyone else who made it.
There’s a lot of different genre elements weaving in and out throughout the story, often in the space of the same scene, but was it always an important part of the process for you both during writing and production to ensure that you were always maintaining that balance so that one never ended up overpowering the others?
Dan Brown: I’m a big fan of Korean cinema, and that’s something that they do really well. So that was just like top of the mind for me. They just sort of play with genre, they go in and out, they come here they go there, there’s not one continuous tone. So that was something personally, I really wanted to have for the movie, was that sense.
I think that helps you feel like you don’t know where it’s gonna go, and the characters can lead you more. And you know, I think given our real lives, like you’ll make a joke at a terrible time; I laugh when terrible things happen all the time, because I don’t know, that’s my way. I just feel like those are the things that I’m most interested in. So that’s wonderful to hear.
Jessica Garza: As an actor, I was able to just trust Dan in that process. I’m there to do what an actor does, which is service that role, and the scene, and the moment to moment. So I don’t have too much of a hand and setting the overall tone or, changing of tones, so I got to just trust Dan, which is exciting, and easy, really easy. I’d seen his past work and it was a no-brainer.
Every character has their reasons for doing what they do, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that audiences might sympathize, empathize, or even root for different people depending on the who, what, when, where, and why of their own circumstances, but was that sort of thematic ambiguity something you were always intent on nailing, or did it happen organically as the story and shoot came together?
Dan Brown: I hope it’s a little bit of both. But definitely in the script, the goal was for exactly that, for you to see a little bit of a window into everybody’s life so that you could kind of sympathize, or at least see where they were coming from.
So that it wasn’t painted in too broad strokes, I guess, is the best way to describe it, and just sort of acknowledge that everybody, we’re all kind of – most everybody – at the mercy of their financial situation. And that can look different for everybody. But there’s still a lot of insecurity, even if you’re doing a little bit better than somebody else, I think can tell you’re in a different stratosphere, I think it’s definitely how it works.
Jessica, without going into spoilers obviously, it would be an understatement to say that Ana Marlene goes on quite the journey between her first and last scenes, so what was that like for you as a performer reading the script, realizing the unexpected journey that lay ahead, and knowing what was in store?
Jessica Garza: My experience reading the script is what I hope the experience is for people watching it have, you know, who knows nothing about it. Which is that it everything got turned on its head, including Ana Marlene. I’ve started the script, you know, maybe with the perception that she was one thing or one person, and I ended it in a completely different way. The journey that she goes on is unique.
And unlike any roles that I read, especially to play a very pregnant woman, and this kind of life or death situation, this opportunity doesn’t happen. There’s not roles written like this. It’s very exciting, scary, it’s a challenge, you want to do it all right. But that fear plays into the excitement of wanting to approach this role. So the journey that she goes on is a whirlwind. I don’t know, I just I had the most fun, the most fun trying to do it. Or doing it, I’m sorry, I like went on a tangent!
Even though there’s nothing that you could call comedy in the broadest sense of the word, the movie is a lot funnier than people might be expecting it to be, so was there always that desire to inject a little levity into what’s an increasingly ridiculous but also dangerous escalating situation?
Dan Brown: Yeah, I guess that was a goal. I was hoping it’s fun. Like, it’s a messed up movie. It’s really dark. It has a very pessimistic kind of take on humanity and American life. But I do want it to be a fun watch. And I don’t want it to be… I guess that’s it, really, I want it to be a fun watch. So I think part of that is just like, trying to have a sense of humor about it kind of acknowledging, “Yeah, this is a ridiculous thing,” I think. But also for me, also, winning the lottery is such a ridiculous idea.
And there’s such this incredible sense of waiting on something like that, that I think was like a license to inject like this, we can go out there a little bit because we’re already in this insane situation. And when people are in unsafe situations, they don’t behave the way they would every day. Because you’re in a moment that will never happen again. And you’re aware of it, you know what I mean? No one’s ever going to be there ever again, they’ll know that. So I think that sort of, for me, that was the reason to be like, “We can push things a little bit further, we can find different emotions all over the place.”
And hopefully, again, inject fun where we can. Part of that was with just some score stuff or with music selection, just to have some fun to be like, “Okay, enjoy this. It’s not all dour.” I don’t like movies that are too dour. And also, I really want you to like the characters, and I think when I laugh at someone, I care a lot more about them. So hopefully, that kind of helps. When things turn bad, and they do turn bad, and sort of help you feel like “I lost somebody that I liked.” Or maybe you don’t like them, and you’re happy!
Jessica Garza: I think that brings realism, like we were just talking about how in various situations, serious situations, Dan can often find himself laughing. That’s something that’s maybe inappropriate, or not of the moment, but that’s how we, or many of us, as humans deal with very stressful, tense, dramatic, traumatizing situations is with humor, so it’s realistic that this film also has moments of humor that people might find funny. Whether those characters intentionally meant to be funny or not!
I have to ask, if each of you won $156 million on a lottery ticket, what’s the first thing you would buy, and why would that be at the top of your list?
Dan Brown: Jessica, go first!
Jessica Garza: The first thing I would buy, I’m hinging on that, because that’s a different way to ask the question. I would, again, I have such terrible answers for this because I’m so reckless, but the first thing I would buy is probably stupidly go on some kind of shopping spree down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, something so absurdly ridiculous. Hopefully, that means I would get it out of my system! So I would be a little bit more thoughtful about how I spent that money. So it didn’t just like, you know, go.
But I would dress like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I would carry a coffee and a pastry and like, walk into some store that I would never walk into now. Like you would never catch me walking into Bergdorf, I don’t even know how to say it, I don’t know what it’s called! Like, just to experience what it would be like. To be that person seems. unreal, I would like to know! I would like to walk in those shoes. And that’s the first thing I would buy
Dan Brown: I liked what you’ve asked, the first thing, I’m trying to think. I think I would probably just buy a trip for my family. I just feel like that’s the first thing we should do. Just take a long vacation, not even think about what you want to do with it. But like, “Let’s go. Let’s stop working right now.” And let’s go, you know, to France or the Bahamas or someplace, Hawaii, and just kind of hang out a little bit. Enjoy the sun. Stay in one of those ridiculous houses and go from there!
Your Lucky Day releases in theaters this Friday, Nov. 10, before arriving on digital Nov. 14, and you can check out our review of the movie here.
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