Cyrus   

by filmmakers Jay & Mark Duplass

Historically, the titles of our movies belong to the symbol of conflict. Hence Cyrus, the loving twenty-year-old son who’s engaged in a seemingly egalitarian relationship with his mom Molly, the two of them living a neo-hippie creative life together on the east side of Los Angeles. What could go wrong?

Enter the divorced guy who’s falling in love with Molly—John, played by John C. Reilly. We mention the actor immediately, because for us, the person who plays the character is as important as the character himself. How can we get an audience to root for a grown man who’s snooping around, acting like an imbecile and waging a manic battle of wits against his lover’s son? How do we get them to believe that a normal person could make such a desperate stab at love? And how do you make them laugh along the way? The answer is simple—hire John C. Reilly.

Luckily, John agreed to do the movie, as did Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener—who are enormously creative and brave talents. And once we got them all onto set, we did what we always do—try to create an environment where real moments and unexplained things can happen between people. Jonah brought a sense of heart and realism to his character that we only dreamed possible, and Marisa created integrity and compassion for a character who would typically be marginalized.

This is our first studio movie, but to us making Cyrus felt like making our earlier independent films The Puffy Chair and Baghead—the mindset was independent and exploratory. Although we work from a structured script, we encouraged our actors to improvise so we could find the funny, tragic, and truthful moments that we all experience in our own personal relationships. Lucky for us, we got to work with a group of actors who were brave and self-aware enough to go there with us.

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