‘Greenberg’ director dedicated to authenticity


By Marie Rodriguez

Director Noah Baumbach creates authentic stories by placing realistic characters in real places.

For his newest movie, “Greenberg,” Baumbach wrote specific Los Angeles locations into the script, including a veterinarian’s office where he’s taken his own pet.

“I’m not precious about what I write,” Baumbach said. “Being as open to what you have, I think is important rather than what you anticipated having because it always becomes something different than you started with.”

“Greenberg” is a film about two people at a crossroads in their lives. Ben Stiller stars as Roger Greenberg opposite Greta Gerwig, as Florence Marr.

Greenberg is a failed New York musician-turned-carpenter who is staying in Los Angeles to housesit for his brother. Marr is his brother’s personal assistant, and becomes close to Greenberg as she shows him the city.

Baumbach, Stiller and film composer James Murphy shared their thoughts about the movie during a group telephone interview with college journalists.

Stiller praised Baumbach’s style.

“Working with Noah is a very special experience because he approaches movies in a very different way than I’ve experienced before,” Stiller said. “He wrote a very specific script and the movie was really dedicated to it.”

Stiller admires Baumbach’s work. “I think there are four or five filmmakers that if you get a call from them as an actor, you just say ‘yes.’ Noah is definitely one of those guys for me.”

He added his gratitude for a well-crafted script. “To work on something that goes that deep in terms of the specificity of the writing, I felt very fortunate to have that opportunity.”

Murphy also appreciated working with the movie’s director during the creation of the soundtrack, which was done as the film editing was in process.

“To make music that worked, it seemed pretty easy to do because we were able to talk about music pretty simply,” Murphy said. “I was very lucky to have that open line of communication. It was easy to have access and a lot of feedback.”

Baumbach said he can’t claim sole credit for the outcome of the film.

“Greenberg is in many ways a 50/50 collaboration between Ben and me,” he said. “He did the dialogue I wrote but so inhabited the part and so transformed the character that I feel only part ownership of him now.”

Baumberg passes similar credit to the soundtrack of the film. “The music is very specific and personal to James, even though it was inspired to go with these pictures.”

Photo by Wilson Webb, courtesy of Focus Features

“Greenberg” is set for release in theaters March 26. Creators say its authentic story is delivered in a witty form to be enjoyed by various types of audiences.

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