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Maeve Dermody loved playing Melody opposite Ryan Kwanten in Leon Ford’s debut, Griff the Invisible so much so she grieved when shooting finished, she tells Andrew L. Urban, while Ford says the characters turned out better than he had imagined. 

When filming finished on Leon Ford’s festival-acclaimed Aussie comedy Griff the Invisible, co-star Maeve Dermody was miserable; “I spent two days weeping … I had this huge grief,” she says sipping coffee in a Sydney hotel, sitting next to writer/director Ford. She loved playing the role.

“I’ve never felt so connected to a role,” says the young actress whose diverse film credits include Andrew Traucki’s crocodile thriller Black Water and Rachel Ward’s family drama Beautiful Kate. 

It was a festival screening of the latter that took Dermody to Toronto, which is where she finally learnt she had the role.

In an extended casting process that took six months, Dermody would re-read the script several times, “and I’d keep bursting into tears.” She says of the character of Melody “is not really me, but there’s something in her I recognised and had access to. Everything she said, no matter how odd, I could make sense of it.”

"an original piece of cinema"

Griff the Invisible is an original piece of cinema from debuting young filmmaker Ford, about the eccentric Griff, played by Ryan Kwanten, who believes he’s a superhero by night, while holding down a dreary office job by day. When his brother (Patrick Brammall) introduces him to equally eccentric Melody (Dermody), a relationship begins to form. But Griff’s eccentricity soon bumps into the furniture of the real world. It takes Melody to encourage him to stick to his unique view of the world – and join him in it.

“Melody has a scientific brain and a clarity of vision,” says Dermody. “After Toronto I visited New York and I would walk around looking at the world differently – through her eyes.” It helped her to form the character.

Both the lead characters “turned out better than I had imagined,” says Ford. “I hope everyone will see something of themselves in these two people. Everyone has a Griff or a Melody inside them – something they’ve never aired for fear of being judged.”

Ford says he can see them and the whole film more clearly in retrospect. “I wanted them to be unique and eccentric but to make that choice consciously and to hang on to it.”

Casting took six months partly because of logistical difficulties confirming Ryan Kwanten for the lead role of Griff. “His US TV schedule was difficult to work around (Kwanten stars in the hit series, True Blood) – plus, I had to take time off when our baby was born.”

Dermody says she and Kwanten spoke very little about their respective characters, preferring to let it come organically. “There was a lot of unsaid stuff,” she says with a laugh. “Ryan’s very disciplined. An athlete really. He hardly sleeps. He’s ultra generous. He knows the names of all the crew. He’s an odd guy, very present and very hard working.”

Says Ford, “Ryan talks to the crew about the technical aspects of every shot – which comes from working in television, to get all that down pat. Then he comes in with the performance. Maeve, on the other hand, comes at it straight from the heart.”

"a wonderful experience"

Griff the Invisible was selected for the prestigious Berlin Film Festival (2011) where 1,000 people crammed in to the screening - without subtitles. “I was really nervous that the audience would maybe not understand the dialogue,” says Ford, “but they seemed to get it … they got all the jokes and even found humour we didn’t anticipate. It was a wonderful experience, the best so far for the film.”

Could there be a sequel, a GTI 2? “There’s been lots of talk about it,” says Ford. 

Published first in the Sun-Herald
Published March 17, 2011

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Ryan Kwanten and Maeve Dermody


Leon Ford

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