There were plenty of reasons not to make A Better Life, which opens in limited release this Friday and may be an early awards-season contender, but Weitz had just as many reasons to do it, thus adding another surprise turn to his eclectic career. One was the story itself: A Better Life follows hard-working undocumented gardener Carlos (played beautifully and with tremendous grace and feeling by Mexican actor Demián Bichir, pictured above with Weitz) whose life savings and only hope for a future are lost in an instant when his truck is stolen. Desperate but clinging to hope, Carlos traverses the intimidating terrain of Los Angeles with his teenage son, Luis (José Julián), who only then discovers how much his father has sacrificed to give him the chance to succeed.
Movieline spoke with Weitz prior to his well-received debut at the L.A. Film Fest about how his Twilight stint made A Better Life possible, the isolation of living in Los Angeles, why he considers A Better Life to be an apolitical film that simply sits “near” the hot button issue of immigration in California, and which of his stars he thinks deserves a nomination at next year’s Academy Awards.
Back while you were working on New Moon word came out that you wanted to next do a smaller film called The Gardener, which was renamed A Better Life. When did your passion to film this begin?
I was shown the script, which was then called The Gardener, and I immediately wanted to make it. It was the best thing that I’d read in 20 years of working here. It’s written by Eric Eason, it’s an amazing script. However, at one point I realized I needed to pay my mortgage, and so it was going to have to wait for a little while because I was going to have to live without really getting paid very much while making this movie for a year and a half. And also, to be honest, I was intrigued by the idea of making New Moon; I really liked the actors, I thought it’d be an interesting way to get back on the horse after Golden Compass had kind of thrown me.
Read more over on Movieline.