Picture 2. Dierdra McDowell
Picture 3. Triana Jackson
We walk into a dimly lit, opulent apartment in Soho with abstract paintings on the walls and shelves of books rising all the way up to the ceiling. This is the apartment where our main character Cisco's (Willem Dafoe) ex-wife and daughter live in the film. I pick out several hard covers and stack them on the wooden dining table that is polished to perfection. The 4:44 crew is setting up for another Skype scene in which our main character Cisco video chats with his daughter and ex-wife. The ex-wife, played by Dierdra McDowell, is apparently still having a hard time forgiving her husband for running off with a younger woman even though it’s the last day on earth. I just want to say, “Dierdra, it’s time to let go.”
The main shooting crew is at the Lower East Side location filming Dafoe while we are here creating the scene that appears on his computer screen. Both actresses, Dierdra McDowell and Triana Jackson, are super excited to be working with Dafoe (one of them even calls him a genius) though they are interacting with him only virtually. When you think about it, the energy created by two actors who are in the same room is surely different than that created by actors who communicate over video chat. But that’s what most of us do these days anyway, right? Faces start to look more familiar on your computer screen than they do in real life.
We do several takes of this scene, each one delivering stronger performances than the last. Abel Ferrara directs the two actresses over the phone, commenting on each take, making adjustments, and finally nailing down the scene. The last take is one that is filled with screaming and pounding on the table as Dafoe and McDowell take an unpleasant trip down memory lane.
-- Eren Gulfidan (http://www.filmannex.com/ErenGulfidan)