2012 - Lisa Lu and Amanda Peet
Lisa Lu and Amanda Peet © Columbia Pictures

Amanda Peet starred opposite John Cusack in Martian Child and Identity, but neither movie necessitated the physical endurance their new film 2012 required.

In Roland Emmerich’s thrill-fest, Peet portrays Kate Curtis, the divorced wife of Jackson Curtis (Cusack), a writer who discovers the news that the world is coming to an end. In order to save their children, the two begin a desperate journey by land and air to survive to see the new world.

I heard you wanted to do this movie, Amanda, so you could work with Roland Emmerich.

2012 - Morgan Lily, Amanda Peet and Liam James
Morgan Lily, Amanda Peet and Liam James © Columbia Pictures

He’s a master of the crazy action sequences. But I also think he has a light touch and a sense of humor. The characters are very appealing. But most importantly, he has a big heart that not only shows in his movies, but when you work with him. He’s very considerate. He spread out shooting in the water tanks, and when I asked him, ‘Why not get it all done at once?’ he said, ‘Do you want to go day after day in the water?’ The scheduling was for us, he didn’t want to put us through that. He’s incredibly humane.

Your character and John’s are divorced in the film but you have to get together to save yourselves and your kids. You’ve worked with John several times before. Can you talk about your character’s relationship with him?

I think that the way I thought was just that John’s character was my one true love, and that I was really hurt by (the divorce), and had gotten on with things and chosen a different path. Once that person is your person then that’s the end of the story. That’s how I saw it when I read it and obviously being with John makes it really easy to feel that way. I’ve always felt that way about working with John, he really makes everything easy.

2012 - John Cusack and Amanda Peet
John Cusack and Amanda Peet © Columbia Pictures

We know Roland is great directing big effects films but talk about him as a director for actors.

I have to say that I definitely emailed a couple of people before I agreed to do the movie, to make sure that Roland wasn’t some kind of scary, sadistic kind of director. All the reports back were kind of incredible. Like, ‘He’s the greatest man to work for.

He’s so lovely, and gentle.’ all things that seemed to be completely antithetical to being responsible for this kind of a scale production. I think it is really incredible how intimate he is able to be, and how gentle, and he never loses his cool.

Any particular examples?

I remember in particular John and I were doing the scene with our kids where we are on [a Soviet plane] and we were dressing them in their life vests and he just kept saying ‘This is really about you and him and your relationship, and that you are finally parenting together in this final moment. Or what could be the final moment.’

So I’m here to say that he’s just really incredibly smart and intuitive about very subtle things. He’s a really incredibly smart director who is watching every little move, in a good way.

What was your first day on the set like?

My first scene was the grocery store scene [which is ripped apart by an earthquake]. Luckily, I was with my pal, Tom McCarthy, and we were both laughing because we were both so new to the action genre. Roland kept telling us to play it down, ‘Smaller, smaller, so many horrible things are going to happen, you can’t think this is horrible.’

Roland is very good at calibrating. He does really have a complete, cool, grasp on the genre. It was very hard for some of us new people to learn to calibrate our responses to this incredible destruction

What is your personal belief about 2012?

I’m kind of a hypochondriac and I worry a lot about a lot of things. I’m going to try not to worry about it too much.

That’s sort of my philosophy and that was my philosophy for the new millennium as well.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.