Side Effects - Dr Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) and Dr Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) ©2013 Open Road Films

It’s hard to describe Steven Soderbergh’s new thriller Side Effects without giving the plot away, but here we go – after Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara) failed suicide attempt, psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) is called in to consult on her case. Desperate not to be hospitalized, Emily agrees to a regimen of therapy and antidepressants, which ultimately have devastating side effects, which puts Banks’ practice and personal life in jeopardy.

Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who also portrays a psychiatrist in the movie, spoke of the film and their new admiration for doctors.

You both play psychiatrists in the movie. What did you discover about the profession?

Side Effects - Poster: Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum
Poster: Dr Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), Dr Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) and Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) ©2013 Open Road Films

Jude: I finished this job with a great respect for the profession and I was very interested by the belief in medicine. Obviously a lot of the discussion around this film is the abuse of medicine and relying on medicine for all the wrong reasons.

Of course, medicine is also used for a lot of good reasons too, and I left this job feeling very respectful of psychiatry as a profession

Catherine: I’m actually thrilled that Steven cast me as a doctor, because I never went to college and I always wanted an MD after my name, so I’m really quite flattered that he fulfilled my mother’s dream.

Why did you want to tell this story?

Catherine: Career-wise, I love my job but it takes me a lot to leave my kids, husband and dogs. This had all the elements that got me straight on a plane the moment Steven asked me to do it.

It had a fantastic script, it’s a roller-coaster ride and to work with Steven for the third time was an absolute treat. Then to work with the caliber of actors that he casts so beautifully, it was a slam-dunk for me.

Jude: Unfortunately it’s a rarity to be involved in something intelligent nowadays, and this was smart and it felt very timely.

It was incredibly relevant and it’s very nice when you are on board with something and you feel like you’re there because you are the right person for the job. It gives you confidence.

Is this an uniquely American story or could this type of plot happen in England with the National Health System?

Catherine: It’s getting different now, but from experiences that I’ve seen and been a part of for many years, there was this British stiff-upper-lip where basically your emotions were quashed. Don’t put your dirty laundry out. Who cares about how you feel? Buck up, you’ll be fine tomorrow.

Now people have started to talk much more on television about issues. But I think in America [it’s] much more public, people feel easier speaking about it, which I think is good. Wouldn’t you agree, Jude?

Side Effects - Jude Law
Dr Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) ©2013 Open Road Films

Jude: Yeah. I think also if you look at our general reliance on prescription pills, I think that’s quite universal actually.

Whether it’s something that is discussed or not, I think there is a definite common theme to the story which in the modern age most people would recognize.

Catherine, what did you think when you saw your husband (Michael Douglas), who is playing Liberace, kissing Matt Damon in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra?

Catherine: I’ve seen Behind the Candelabra and if my husband is going to kiss anybody else in the world, I’m so happy it’s Matt Damon.

Supposedly when Matt Damon was kissing Michael, which is very flattering for me, he closed his eyes and pretended he was kissing me.

Matt did?

Catherine: Yeah, I thought that was one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever had.

Jude, have you seen the TV series Elementary?

Jude: Yes, Johnny Lee Miller’s one of my best friends.

What do you think of Lucy Liu as Dr Watson?

Jude: She doesn’t quite have the mustache I have!

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Judy Sloane

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