Andrew Haigh began his film career working in the editing department for Ridley Scott on blockbusters like “Gladiator” and “Black Hawk Down.” When he started directing, he leaned towards intimate relationship dramas, including the 2011 one-night stand romance “Weekend” and the HBO show “Looking.” With “45 Years” he turns towards older love. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay play longtime marrieds who get shocking news that threatens to undo their relationship on the verge of their big anniversary party.
You’re in your early 40s writing and directing a film about people in their 60s and 70s. Did you have much difficulty making sure you weren’t assuming too much?
For me it wasn’t a stretch, and I didn’t even question it. I really think people are much more similar than they think they are. You can be 20 and still have the same pains and doubts as when you’re 70. You don’t change that fundamentally. I’m just a slightly wiser version of who I was when I was 20. I hope to continue in that path, but I’ll still be fundamentally the same person. I’ll have the same insecurities, the same vulnerabilities, the same fears. That continues, unfortunately, from a very early age, probably about 5. Society’s very keen on saying old people are one thing and you people are another thing.
What about collaborating with your actors? There’s a sense that Tom and Charlotte have a lot of room in each of the shots to find their characters.
What I love about Charlotte is she would only do something in the moment if it felt truthful, if it was absolutely in her. As a director, it takes your worry away, because you know what you’ll be getting will feel truthful, even if it’s not what you expected it to be.