When Dylan Penn changed into as soon as 15, her father, Sean, gave her the book Flim-Flam Man: The Trusty Story of My Father’s Faux Lifestyles, a memoir by journalist Jennifer Vogel chronicling her tumultuous relationship along with her father.
“I believed the cause he needed me to read it changed into as soon as to wait on him resolve out who must tranquil play Jennifer [in the film adaptation],” Penn explains from the solar-sopping wet Hôtel Martinez bar in Cannes, the put her film, Flag Day, had premiered a few nights sooner than. Because it turned out, her father, who each directed and co-stars in the film, had his daughter in thoughts for the role from the accept-crawl. But it wasn’t till a decade later—and with encouragement from her mother, Robin Wright—that Penn, now 30, signed on for her first lead role. (Beforehand, she looked in the 2015 terror film Condemned and 2016’s Elvis & Nixon.) Flag Day follows the on-again, off-again relationship between Vogel and her erratic, conman father, John (Sean Penn), over the route of two an extended time. The film also aspects Penn’s brother, Hopper, as her on-display brother, and is scored with normal music by Cat Energy and Eddie Vedder.
Vogue sat down with Penn in Cannes to bid about getting the section, the most efficient advice Sean gave her on arena, and channeling her past.
Vogue: I read that you simply consistently needed to be on the help of the camera somewhat than in entrance of it. Is that appropriate?
Dylan Penn: After I changed into as soon as younger, I told my fogeys I needed to verbalize. On separate times, each of them told that I must tranquil know what it’s resolve to act sooner than I verbalize, so I’d know what it’s resolve to be in the actor’s shoes. So I did a form of aiding on movie devices for a while [as a production assistant]. I did a form of music videos and some TV reveals and some print shoots. I felt more in it than when I changed into as soon as visiting my fogeys on arena.
So when did you originate to steal in thoughts performing?
I correct by no manner idea of myself as an actor, and really, from a younger age, I consistently idea it changed into as soon as with out a doubt foolish that adults dressed up and played various folk. I believe a very various glimpse now, but [at the time] I wasn’t attracted to the relaxation in entrance of the camera.
So how did you win yourself taking on Flag Day?
After I changed into as soon as 16, my dad came to me with the section of [a young version of Jennifer] because he had an choice on the script, and I acknowledged no. I changed into as soon as 27 when the script came help spherical, and I felt admire I had more to offer because I would possibly well per chance reference my win life expertise to compose the persona of Jennifer. My mother changed into as soon as the one who told me that working with my dad because the director changed into as soon as the most efficient expertise she’s ever had, which changed into as soon as what propelled me into this mission.
What did your mother disclose, precisely, that convinced you?
She acknowledged he changed into as soon as a with out a doubt gargantuan collaborator and she felt admire he created a with out a doubt protected atmosphere to be susceptible on arena, and that he changed into as soon as a hands-off director. She acknowledged you had a form of home to play spherical and resolve it out to your win. However I changed into as soon as with out a doubt worried in the starting put. I felt a big responsibility to Jennifer to painting her in a appropriate gentle, and it’s a heavy myth. I changed into as soon as nervous, and I know professional relationships with family would possibly well additionally even be with out a doubt advanced. My dad and I believe by no manner worked collectively. So there changed into as soon as a form of pain of the unknown going into it. However I also needed to carry out it because I hoped it would possibly per chance well per chance assemble me a greater director when that day comes, and the role is unbelievable and her myth is so amazing. I believe admire it changed into as soon as almost nostalgic because I first read it when I changed into as soon as so younger. I connected to Jennifer by manner of attempting to search out her win identification become independent from her fogeys’ and now no longer letting her past outline her. I correct felt admire it changed into as soon as one thing that I would possibly well per chance carry out.
What roughly conversations did that you simply would possibly well per chance per chance believe with your dad that convinced you to assemble Flag Day?
He didn’t present an explanation for me this when I changed into as soon as 16, but he told me this time spherical that the important thing time he read the script, he consistently seen my face in the persona. I felt he wasn’t setting me as a lot as fail because he consistently has with out a doubt appropriate instincts, so I felt admire I would possibly well per chance budge with that. And then from the important thing day [on set], I knew issues were going to head properly. It correct felt factual.
I’m in a position to’t imagine what it’d be resolve to act on display with my dad while he’s pretending to be any person else’s dad, and I’m his fictional daughter, because that you simply would possibly well’t now no longer look your dad while you occur to look into his eyes, factual? It must were the form of head outing.
I know, but it with out a doubt changed into as soon as really somewhat seamless. I carry out feel admire my dad has a form of attributes that John had. He’s with out a doubt charming and adventurous and would carry out the relaxation for his youngsters. I believe my dad changed into as soon as destined to be a father, so I didn’t feel admire it changed into as soon as a right stretch. The single right incompatibility I seen is that I believe a with out a doubt clear relationship with my father, and Jennifer’s dad by no manner gave that to her. [My dad] changed into as soon as correct with out a doubt fun to act with and gave me so critical to work with. He’s with out a doubt the single gentle section of this film.
When you were reading the script, were there any explicit scenes that you simply felt would possibly well additionally just be interesting?
The single scene that I changed into as soon as with out a doubt afraid of changed into as soon as when I look John taking pictures himself on stay TV when I’m looking out on the car-high-tail scene in the diner. I changed into as soon as nervous about that because I had been on arena that day, so I seen the stunt doubles flipping the car, but I hadn’t viewed my dad’s persona shoot himself in the top. So that changed into as soon as all stay for me. I changed into as soon as worried that I wasn’t going so as to accept that emotion, but it with out a doubt changed into as soon as really correct so stunning and intensely right to me.
When you seen that, did you look your dad or John Vogel?
I seen my dad.
That must were with out a doubt harrowing.
Yeah. He changed into as soon as also crying on the help of the camera looking out at me act out the scene. I changed into as soon as loads—it changed into as soon as loads.
Was there a allotment of advice your dad gave you that caught with you?
I believe to claim, he changed into as soon as somewhat hands-off for the most section, which changed into as soon as with out a doubt nice. His one allotment of advice that turned my mantra for the length of the film changed into as soon as: If the relaxation feels fraudulent, whether or now no longer it’s one thing you’re pronouncing, the manner you’re intriguing, or the prop you’re going by, irrespective of it’s miles, don’t carry out it, since it’s going to read fraudulent on display. Every time they’d name action, that changed into as soon as what I changed into as soon as pronouncing in my head and I believe that with out a doubt helped.
Was there a graceful amount of improvisation, then? An different to feel it out?
Yeah, the script changed into but again of a data. We really stayed appropriate to the myth, but most of the dialogue is improvised. We also had a form of time to rehearse—a week sooner than we started taking pictures, we went to each put and rehearsed the scene so that on the day it felt so pure and acquainted, and you are going to with out a doubt correct point of interest on the emotion. It roughly felt admire what I imagine rehearsing for a play would be admire—with out a doubt feeling your arena. I’ve by no manner finished that in any other movie.
Your persona does a roughly 180, in that she goes from fighting drug abuse to getting sober, getting a job, and on the total taking control of her life. Did you buckle down and do the relaxation identical to your win life that you simply are going to diagram from?
There changed into as soon as a time-frame factual after I finished modeling when I moved to New York for a man and I didn’t believe a job. I changed into as soon as 25, and I changed into as soon as there for a year, and he changed into as soon as working nonstop and I roughly started residing a double life. I changed into as soon as roughly admire his—I don’t believe to claim “arm-candy,” because we had a right relationship, but he correct wasn’t with out a doubt present. When he would crawl to work, I’d crawl off and carry out a form of medication and drink loads, and I changed into as soon as out with folk that weren’t traffic of mine. I stopped up getting sober, and I did a 45-day stint in an all ladies’s community therapy therapeutic heart in Arizona, which changed into as soon as with out a doubt life-changing. And after that I did a year and a half of sobriety correct to look how I felt. And I deem that with out a doubt changed who I changed into as soon as at my core. It’s one thing that I’m with out a doubt grateful I did at a younger age, since it with out a doubt arena me up for the remainder of my life.
Did you raise that believe to Jennifer’s persona?
Yes, specifically when she changed into as soon as younger—doing treatment and partying and attempting to speed her reality. I totally take into accout that. It feels so far eradicated from me, but I would possibly well per chance with out a doubt tap into that time in my life, specifically when she goes to school and tries to search out out what her reason is. I deem that with out a doubt came to me after I did this 45-day stint.
What did you carry out after the 45-day stint?
I did a halfway program for two months, which changed into as soon as with out a doubt intense. Then I moved home, and that is the reason when I made up our minds to proceed my sobriety.
Are you proceed to sober?
No. I don’t carry out treatment anymore—they don’t with out a doubt passion me. However my relationship to alcohol totally changed after I did a year and a half of sobriety. I by no manner drank or did treatment on my win, but I with out a doubt missed the social side of ingesting.
What changed into as soon as the most stunning thing that you simply discovered about yourself on arena?
I changed into as soon as with out a doubt vastly surprised that I would possibly well per chance tap into a unlucky site with out a doubt with out problems. I changed into as soon as in a with out a doubt appropriate site in my life for the length of filming. I turned with out a doubt terminate with the crew and clearly my brother changed into as soon as there, so that you simply can swap from that elated-crawl-lucky site to a darker site changed into as soon as very simple. I changed into as soon as vastly surprised by that.
Attain you suspect it changed into as soon as because you were in a appropriate site that you simply were in a local to accept admission to that more freely and now no longer be insecure of it?
Yes, and I deem [my dad] created a protected arena so it felt ok to be naked.
I’m assuming you’re going to proceed to pursue performing after this. You believe to believe some roughly be pleased for it to offer the performance you potentially did.
I really believe to pursue it further, and I did believe a form of fun, even supposing the film is a form of me crying. However I believe to proceed doing it needless to yelp.
This interview has been edited and condensed.