Were there any problems with filming on location?
New York’s very permit based, so most of your budget goes there. But I think the fact that Joaquin Phoenix looked so different – he could be a construction worker or a bum (laughs) – it gave us a freedom. No one recognised him, no one was coming up with cameras or following or anything. And my assistant director, who’s also a young filmmaker, had worked on indie stuff in New York (like Martha Marcy May Marlene) and he really helped us create the film with a smaller unit, and make the film in a different way in such a small amount of time.
How did you picture Joe as a character?
I always saw him as having these shards of glass in his head, fragments of trauma before that have come to head over these two days. I didn’t want them to be flashbacks that tell a story, rather it be more like how post traumatic stress works where its repetitions of things: violence becomes violence becomes violence, wars become wars become wars. That all came from Joe as a character, and I found some of that in Ames’ text.