It was an exciting night at the Chinese TCL Theaters in Hollywood a few weeks ago – not only had we just seen the touching drama “The Tender Bar,” there was also a Q & A with stars Ben Affleck, producer Grant Heslov and writer Bill Monahan, plus actors Daniel Danieri, Tye Sheridan, Christopher Lloyd and Lily Rabe, with one of the fastest back and forth talks I’ve ever seen.
The host of the talk started off by asking what it was like to work with George Clooney (who directed the film).
“George loves actors, his directing is such a joy, he surprises me,” said Rabe.
Heslov joked, “I’ll say some bad things about George, his looks are terrible when he wakes up in the morning (laugh).”
When Lloyd was asked about his character being a “sweet old man,” he exclaimed, “Sweet old man? I didn’t get that. I loved the film, what’s not to like about it? And Clooney is a great guy.”
Asked about his first big movie, child actor Ranieri said, “It’s great, George is the best director I have ever worked with, I got so close to the cast, to George, Lily — all of them were like one family. I have an older brother now, right here in Tye (Sheridan).”
Sheridan added, “There are a lot of things I can relate to; I worked on my first film at 11, on the “Tree of Life” film. I grew up with a crazy family like J.R. (his character) in Texas, I used to go up to a cabin with adults where they’d stay up all night drinking.”
Heslov shared that he met Clooney in acting class, “When I was 19 and he was 21. He was a part of my coming-of-age story.”
When it came to Affleck, he related, “For one thing, my father was a bartender and didn’t go to college, but he really loved books and writing. I had some great mentors like my godfather Jack, and a great drama teacher in high school. (Damon) and I met in his class and I was lucky to have had a great teacher who really cared, a role model you wanted to be like. His name was Gerry Speca. In the way that Uncle Charlie mentored J.R. (Uncle Charlie was Affleck’s character), Gerry mentored me. There’s wonderful writing in the book.”
Sheridan added, “I had a lot of Uncle Charlies, I still have people who call me on my shit and tell me to come down to earth.”
Rabe said, “I had wonderful parents and a wonderful English teacher. Those voices come back to you and push you back on track, I try to amplify them when I’m looking at fear-based decisions.”
Related Affleck, “This film is also a testament to single, working mothers – J.R. learns things from his uncle Charlie, but he is who he is because of his mom.”
Lloyd said, “I had a few mentors, and a person who comes to mind is an acting teacher. I didn’t have a lot of confidence and I didn’t really know how to act. Sandy Meisner, my teacher, would sit through two classes a night and he was right on it.”
“It was a very rare opportunity to work on something this complicated and rich, that’s increasingly important to me in life, and with people watching films again, it struck me that that this movie manages to be compassionate, present and loving,” added Affleck.
There was a wonderful after party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel just across the street, made to look like the set of “The Tender Bar” with billiard tables and books on shelves, which this Moviehole writer really enjoyed!
“The Tender Bar” is on Amazon Prime Jan 7