The cast of Side Effects sits down with Movie Fanatic to talk about the thriller from the mind of screenwriter Scott Z. Burns and director Steven Soderbergh (Contagion, The Informant). Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta Jones, Rooney Mara and Jude Law all star in the psychological drama that will have you guessing until the final moments of the film.
One has to start any chat with this cast with Tatum and the phenomenal 13 months he has had dating back to Haywire in January 2012 through Side Effects, which opens Friday, February 8. “I’ve been lucky,” Tatum said.
In between those Steven Soderbergh-directed bookends, Tatum starred in Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street, The Vow and 10 Years. “We worked so hard on every single one and you don’t know which ones are gonna work and which ones aren’t. I’ve gotten to work with some really amazingly talented people and that has helped the ones that worked work. You gotta keep doing the stories you love and the characters you love and are drawn to.”
There is much to be blissful about with this film, as teased in the Side Effects trailer. Zeta Jones found it difficult to talk about a film that has so many thrilling plot pivots. "This is probably the hardest movie to discuss to people because any given moment we could realize the wonder plot and the twists and turns that occur throughout the movie,” she admitted.
But she felt proud of one fact, she portrays a doctor -- a role that she felt would impress her parents.
“For me playing a doctor, let’s just put it that I try and be as professional on the outset as one would think all good doctors are -- but my character lies much deeper. The relationship that lies between Jude and myself and Rooney and myself runs much deeper than your first impression of me as a doctor would be," Jones said.
"I’m thrilled that Steven cast me as a doctor because I never went to college and I always wanted an MD after my name. I’m really quite flattered that you fulfilled my mother’s dream.”
Law, who plays a psychiatrist in the middle of the Mara mystery, emerged with a greater appreciation for what these individuals do. “Obviously a lot of the discussion around this film is around the abuse of medicine and perhaps using medicine, of relying on medicine for the wrong reasons,” Law said. “Of course, medicine is also used for an awful lot of good reasons too. I left this job feeling really respectful of psychiatry as a profession.”
Mara, the subject of many onscreen psychological evaluations and the one who reels from the Side Effects of the drugs she’s prescribed, shared her co-star's feelings. “I think I’ve always had a respect for psychiatry as a profession. Certainly this movie furthers that,” Mara said.
Although given the vast moral compass of the professionals in Side Effects, her opinion on docs would not be shaped by those in Soderbergh’s picture. "I don’t know if the characters in the film left me with more faith in psychiatry but I’m glad Jude feels that way,” she said, laughing.
Side Effects is also quite timely, the cast asserted. Whether American or British, each member of the film's ensemble found it relevant to our current discussion of mental health. Our Movie Fanatic Side Effects exclusive trailer highlights that fact.
“There was this British stiff upper lip where psychotherapy and depression and basically your emotions were quashed and it became that British stiff upper lip. Don’t put your dirty laundry out. Who cares about how you feel? You’re sad, buck up, you’ll be fine tomorrow,” Jones said.
“Now, it’s starting to come up much more in the open and people are starting to talk much more on television about issues. I think in America it has this much more public feel. Maybe it’s just easier speaking about it which I think is very good.”
Law also saw it tackling the broader issue of the over-prescribing of drugs in society as a whole. “I think also if you look at the theme of our general reliance on prescription pills, I think that’s quite universal actually,” Law said. “Whether it’s something that’s discussed or not discussed, I think it’s a definite common theme to the story in the modern age which most people would recognize.”
Jones believes regardless of what side of the pond you live on, we’re all victims to a quick fix. “Whether it’s texting or you want this quick or it’s a movie you press a button and it’s on, culturally, we’ve become everything instantaneously,” Jones added.
“I think with prescription medicine it’s kind of the same thing. If there’s one thing you can take that’s gonna make all this go away then I’ll try it. It’s become a cumulative that comes from a culture of quick-fixes.”
Much of the cast has worked with the astounding Side Effects director before, but not Mara. She felt like the new kid on the block. “My first day, I was definitely kind of nervous but they were all pretty nice so it made it pretty easy,” Mara said.
“I just keep coming back because Steven’s so pretty and beautiful and he gives great massages on set. That’s really it and I don’t really love anything else about him,” Tatum added as everyone laughed. In fact, it appears that Tatum has his own reasons why he hopes Soderbergh would not retire after Side Effects. “I wish he would just keep making movies so I can keep getting those massages.”
“He rubbed my feet when I was pregnant in Traffic and that’s the only reason why I keep coming back. He looked after a pregnant woman so well and I just knew I’d be in good hands,” Jones added.
Mara, wanting to turn serious for a moment, talked about what it meant to her to star in a Steven Soderbergh movie.
“I really wanted to work with Steven for a while. I can’t remember why I wanted to now that I have," she said and laughed. "I read the script and I just loved it. I thought it was really smart and interesting and like Jude said that really doesn’t happen that often. The cast that he had attached to it, like they said, it was kind of a no-brainer."
Every film she makes alters and influences her, and Side Effects was no different. Simply looking at this Side Effects clip, one can see why.
“I think every job that you do changes or affects you in some way. I certainly went into it thinking I knew a lot about depression and when I started researching it, I realized I didn’t know a lot about depression. Certainly that part of it changed me. I feel like I have a lot more compassion now for depression," Mara said.
"There’s a lot of things that we were able to do that were really eye opening.”
Lastly, since Mara has appeared in mostly dark fare -- including most recently The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- we wondered if there would be a lighter movie in her future. “I don’t see a rom-com in my future -- but never say never,” Mara admitted. “I’m just not funny. I think you’d be really mad or disappointed."