Dylan Penn Needs to Flip the Tables and Direct Her Dad Sean Penn After Making ‘Flag Day’

Dylan Penn Eric Charbonneau

Being directed by your dad feels like a hit and miss state of affairs, however for Dylan Penn, being guided by her father, actor Sean Penn, on Flag Day was a once-in-a-lifetime expertise. The movie tells the story of John Vogel, a infamous counterfeiter, and his daughter Jennifer, who has a tumultuous relationship together with her separated dad and mom. It’s based mostly on Jennifer Vogel’s memoir Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life, and Dylan takes on the position of Jennifer with intense emotional consideration, enjoying her over the course of a few years of her life.

Sean, who directed the movie and stars as John, has been on and off connected to the undertaking for over a decade, with Flag Day lastly arriving in theaters August 20. It’s an actual showcase for Dylan, who says she by no means supposed to turn into an actor regardless of being the daughter of Sean and Robin Wright. Beforehand, Dylan has appeared in just a few issues, together with Elvis &. Nixon, however she sees Flag Day because the stepping stone to her true ardour: directing.

We spoke with Dylan about what it was prefer to work together with her dad, how a lot she associated to Jennifer’s story and what it meant to have Flag Day premiere at Cannes.

Observer: What’s the casting course of for a movie like when your dad is the director?

Dylan Penn: You recognize, it’s humorous as a result of this movie has gone via so many iterations with varied individuals connected, so the primary time I used to be 16 and that’s when my dad first connected to the movie. After which at round 26 or 27 I auditioned for an additional actor who was connected to play John Vogel. After which it went again to my dad and that’s type of the way it occurred. I did audition, however not for my dad.

So the movie has been in your life for a very long time.

It has, yeah.

What was it concerning the story that resonated with you?

A lot of it! It’s attention-grabbing as a result of once I learn it at 15 years previous I liked Jennifer’s story, however I didn’t actually connect with it on a private stage. Virtually 15 years later — I’m 30 now — it nearly felt like studying my very own diary as a result of a lot of our lives have parallels. However the greatest similarity is just rising up and going via your early grownup life and looking for your self indifferent out of your dad and mom and your previous, and discovering your personal identification.

I don’t know if I wish to be directed by him once more. I believe I wish to swap it round. I believe I’d prefer to direct him, possibly.

Was this an intense position to tackle?

Sure. It was very intense. I imply, it’s the closest factor to household remedy that I’ve ever accomplished. Besides it’s in a room full of fifty strangers — crew members. To be that susceptible and bare with your personal household on digicam in a very heavy factor. It was wonderful as a result of I felt very supported as a result of I used to be with my household, however to be that open, particularly when there’s so many parallels to my very own life and I’m utilizing my very own life as reference, was exhausting. However I believe it labored. I hope it did.

As a result of we had a lot time collectively, not solely me and my dad and my brother but in addition with Katheryn Winnick, who performs Patty [Vogel], my mom, we obtained to know one another and actually really feel the area. We did plenty of rehearsals within the places that we shot at. When it got here to the day the emotion simply got here so naturally as a result of all the things else felt so in place.

Dylan Penn stars as Jennifer Vogel in Flag Day. Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Footage

How do you get your self to that place of actual vulnerability?

Now I simply consider essentially the most terrible issues to get to that place. Typically, although, to be utterly sincere, I’d present as much as set and I’d simply be so drained that I wanted to cry. I cry so much on this film! Typically it simply got here, and generally I might consider essentially the most horrific issues to deliver up that emotion.

Had you labored together with your father earlier than this?

No, that is the primary time.

Would you’re employed with him once more after this expertise?

I might. I don’t know if I wish to be directed by him once more. I believe I wish to swap it round. I believe I’d prefer to direct him, possibly. However I might positively act with him once more. I’ve by no means acted with somebody higher. He’s fairly good.

What was your dynamic like on set?

I went into it a bit hesitant as a result of we hadn’t labored collectively in an expert atmosphere earlier than, so that may generally be difficult. However from the primary day I set foot on set, as Jennifer, I’ve by no means felt so protected in a spot the place I felt like I may fall on my face and I actually had my dad to carry my hand and say “It’s okay, get again up once more.” And I believe as a result of he’s an actor he is aware of methods to discuss to actors, so it by no means felt domineering or controlling. He’s actually accessible as a director and that made working with him so seamless and straightforward.

Director Sean Penn on the set of Flag Day. Allen Fraser

Did you meet Jennifer forward of filming? 

I did. We had talked a pair occasions on the telephone main as much as taking pictures and I met her in all probability two weeks earlier than we began. I believe we sat collectively for 5 hours over dinner. It’s wonderful as a result of she’s an open e-book, actually, about her story. She let me ask her any query below the solar. Nothing was off subject. One thing that utterly modified my view on methods to play Jennifer is that she by no means supposed or wished somebody to imitate her or copy her. She simply wished her story to be instructed. That allowed me, as an actor, to have plenty of freedom to make my very own decisions and never be so confined to being Jennifer in actuality.

I used to be nervous as a result of we simply actually wished to remain true to her story. Jennifer is, I believe, one of the crucial resilient individuals I’ve ever met and you’d by no means know that she’s had this actually tumultuous previous. The best way she is as we speak she has such a light-weight. She has this infectious snigger. She’s simply an incredible, robust particular person, and I really feel like that was what I used to be striving for, not less than as she’s rising up and going into her grownup life. To point out her power. That was my major focus.

Was it difficult to play Jennifer over so a few years of her life?

I felt prefer it was fairly simple [to stay with her] as a result of the hair and make-up and costumes actually helped — to go from ’70s to goth to ’80s. There have been plenty of seems to be that helped get me into character. But in addition as a result of I’m 30 now I can simply return to once I was 17. I keep in mind that prefer it was yesterday. That angst. Doing medicine and being rebellious. I’m so removed from that now, however it’s a part of who you might be. The distress of being a teen.

Do you’re feeling such as you realized something about your self as an actor in making this movie?

It sounds easy once I say it out loud, however I realized I liked the physicality of appearing. One among my favourite scenes to shoot was with Katheryn Winnick: our struggle scene the place I go away to go see my dad. Katheryn is an ex-martial arts particular person. Actually intense and really robust bodily. So she actually let me come at her, and vice versa. I simply had a lot enjoyable with that. So I believe I realized that subsequent I actually wish to do one thing that entails my physique.

Have you ever at all times wished to be an actor?

In no way. Oh my God, I by no means thought in 1,000,000 years that I might do that. It sounds humorous now, however rising up with it I assumed it was simply so foolish. Adults dressing up, enjoying different individuals — it simply appeared ridiculous to me. I at all times wished to be within the movie business, however I wished to be behind the digicam writing, producing and hopefully directing in the future. And that’s nonetheless my ardour, however I fell into this as a result of I had expressed that I wished to direct. Each my dad and mom, individually, suggested that I ought to know what it’s prefer to act earlier than I direct. That’s actually why I obtained into it. And this undertaking is totally different as a result of it’s been part of my life for thus lengthy that I actually did wish to play this position. However now that I’m having enjoyable with it, and to do a task like this that actually is a task of a lifetime, I really feel so fortunate. So long as this sort of materials is offered then we’ll see. Perhaps I’ll proceed with this. I believe I prefer it a bit of bit.

How did it really feel to take the movie to Cannes? 

It was overwhelming, simply to be with that many individuals. I went as a visitor as soon as, however that’s a very totally different expertise whenever you’re engaged on a film of your personal. It’s a complete totally different expertise. And other people had been telling me that it was like 30% of what it’s often and it felt like Disneyland there. It was packed. But it surely was wonderful. Simply to be with strangers. Feeling some type of neighborhood. And to have that platform — to be a part of the Cannes movie competition is surreal. Jennifer has been making an attempt to get this made for 16-plus years, so to be there together with her and my father and my brother was only a dream.

Have you ever labored on something because you completed taking pictures Flag Day?

It’s been a whirlwind. We’ve all been on this mess of Covid and it was actually unusual to get off of a film set and go straight into quarantine. On the identical time, it gave me plenty of time to consider how grateful I’m to have had that chance. However I’m so prepared to return to work. I’m so able to have a job!

How shut are you to directing your personal undertaking?

I wish to do it as we speak. I’m prepared. So I’ve written a few issues. I’ve a writing accomplice and we’ve written a few issues. But it surely’s actually robust whenever you’re an unknown to get your work on the market. And clearly I’ve by no means directed earlier than, so trusting a first-time director is understandably a giant leap. I hope this film can propel me into that route. So hopefully quickly. I’m prepared.


Flag Day will likely be launched in theaters August 20.