Derek Cianfrance Finally Signs His Blue Valentine

“We actually made a house a home, and I feel like that’s a place where I lived.” Michelle Williams, who was wearing “some” of her platinum Marilyn hair, spoke to us about the intimate and nearly de facto nature of filming Blue Valentine with co-star Ryan Gosling and on-screen daughter, Faith Wladyka. “I would include that in my stops through life, like: ‘Oh yeah, I lived outside of Scranton for a couple months.'” The film, which entailed a 12-year odyssey for director Derek Cianfrance, tells the two-part story of Dean and Cindy: their quixotic courtship—his ukulele to her tap dance—juxtaposed with the heartbreak of an eroding present.

Often improvising, Gosling and Williams “explored what it was like to fall in love.” Documentary-style, with no do-overs, the past captures those initial moments of sweet inseparability: entwined on a bus, listening to a song together for the first time, making promises. Williams noted, “It was liberating. I didn’t want to make the present. I think I actually legitimately petitioned Derek and said, ‘Can we please not, I don’t want to make the rest of the movie. We have a lot of footage here. Let’s just make a movie and call it Valentine.'”

The cast took one month off of shooting to wear the couple’s marriage and effect six years of physical change. They lived in a house, planned a budget, went grocery shopping, made a bet on who could gain more weight, did the dishes, and celebrated Christmas. “I mean, it was a relief, you’re always trying to pretend that you don’t know what’s going to happen when you’re an actor. And it’s nice, and great directing, because [Cianfrance] asks you to act as a last resort. If you live as them for long enough, you start to feel like you are them,” Gosling told Interview.

We originally met Derek Cianfrance at a Blue Valentine screening hosted at the Core Club by Peggy Siegal, nearly a month before we spoke to him again. We continued our conversation with Cianfrance just a few days before the MPAA overturned its surprise NC-17 rating for the film to an R, and he shared with us his own impressions of what it means to be a filmmaker now.