Ruby Sparks - Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano
Ruby (Zoe Kazan) and Calvin (Paul Dano) ©2012 Bona Fide Production

A couple since 2009, Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan star in the romantic fantasy comedy Ruby Sparks, written by Kazan and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine).

When successful novelist Calvin Weir-Fields (Dano) is stricken with a bad case of writer’s block, he dreams about his perfect female protagonist, naming her Ruby Sparks (Kazan), and literally wills her into manifestation.

As you were a couple when Zoe was writing this, did you contribute to your character?

Ruby Sparks - Paul Dano
Calvin (Paul Dano) ©2012 Bona Fide Production

Paul: [No], whenever we talked about the film, it was not about Calvin. It was just about what she was writing, tossing things around and dreaming about the film we would make. It was not about us acting in it. That came later.

Did you think about Paul when you were creating Calvin?

Ruby Sparks - Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano
Ruby (Zoe Kazan) ©2012 Bona Fide Production

Zoe: Very early I showed him some pages and he asked me if I was writing it for the two of us? It hadn’t occurred to me until he said it, and then when he did say it, I thought, ‘Clearly, that’s what I’m doing.’

But then I tried to put it out of my head, because at that point the characters were speaking so clearly to me, and the story was really unfolding, and that was much more interesting to me than trying to write good parts for us to play.

Even though I knew I was writing for us, I was trying to do anything except write to us.

Did you learn something more about the characters while you were shooting the movie?

Zoe: You always learn something when actors come in and take the roles on. The character exists on the page in itself, and then there’s the actor and when those two meet there is a new thing that’s created. And that’s what you hope for, that’s not a violation of what’s on the page.

That’s a fulfillment of what’s on the page. It’s not finished until an actor steps in.

Did Calvin change for you from the original script?

Ruby Sparks - Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan
Calvin (Paul Dano) and Ruby (Zoe Kazan) ©2012 Bona Fide Production

Paul: This was one of the most surprising experiences I’ve had, and I think it’s because I read it early. You get a gut impression that you carry with you, but then I remember doing scenes and they went completely differently than I thought.

They had more meaning or depth, or were funnier or darker than I had anticipated.

What’s your impression of Calvin?

Paul: I think before Calvin can properly love somebody he has to learn to love himself. His relationship with Ruby could be a really beautiful thing, but he has to grow up before he can do it right. Calvin is learning that you can’t control life and he’s got to get comfortable with that.

The movie leaves some questions up for discussion.

Zoe: I am so proud of the movie we made. After such a happy collaboration, we are really excited to share the film with an audience, hear their reactions, and start that conversation.

Zoe and Paul were ask about the choice of having Calvin write on an old-fashioned typewriter. Click here to listen to their reply

[jwplayer config=”Audio” mediaid=”29451″]

Ruby Sparks - Paul Dano, directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and Zoe Kazan
Actor Paul Dano, directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and writer/actress Zoe Kazan on the set ©2012 Bona Fide Production

Judy Sloane

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