Garrett Hedlund on Playing Mosaic’s No. 1 Suspect
The actor, who portrays the prime suspect in Steven Soderbergh’s murder mystery, discusses the director’s process and why he lept at the chance to be a part of Mosaic.
HBO: What intrigued you the most when you heard about this project?
Garrett Hedlund: Steven Soderbergh. I just wanted to work with Steven. To me, he’s the most innovative director. He’s always pushing boundaries and reaching for new things creatively — and technologically.
I heard, “Steven Soderbergh wants to meet you for this new thing he’s doing, which is probably going to press boundaries technologically,” and I wanted to be a part of it. I signed onto it thinking that it could be the smallest role in the thing. It turned out not to be.
HBO: Is it true each actor only received scripts for their individual storyline?
Garrett Hedlund: We only got our storylines. [Writer] Ed Solomon made a funny joke, saying everybody thought their character was going to be the lead. Nobody had any idea really what we were doing and what we were about to see. I think everybody was nerve-racked until they met Steven and saw his process.
HBO: What about Steven’s presence on set reassured everyone about the project?
Garrett Hedlund: Everybody was on cloud nine working with him. He’s got the best sense of humor. He moves really fast. It was wonderful to know that you have one or two takes, and you come in to give everything. Then, you’re going to be wrapped at a reasonable hour. It makes going on to a regular set unfair.
Steven shoots everything himself; he’s the cinematographer on all of Mosaic. You could’ve shot 30 pages in a day, and he still gets home, puts on his earbuds and edits all his dailies.
HBO: With only your storyline to go off of, did you understand how much the finished product would play with perspective?
Garrett Hedlund: I knew we were shooting different angles. I just thought it was different coverage. I didn’t know at the get-go that it was going to be used for opposing perspectives. Later, we started getting little whispers of how this was going to change between characters.
There’s one scene between Jeremy [Bobb] and I, where he’s just completely deadpan, and another take where he’s going a little bit ballistic. That was the first time I was like, “Oh I see what you guys are doing here.”
HBO: At the very opening of Soderbergh’s six-part cut that is airing on HBO, your character is accused of murder. What’s your read on Joel as a potential suspect?
Garrett Hedlund: I always knew Joel was a character with an immense amount of inner conflict; trying to accept what he’s become, and also trying to remember what he was. He has a wonderful character arc. Between Joel when he’s accused and Joel in flashbacks, I knew I was going to have three months to change physically and mentally.
HBO: Did watching the rough edits inform your performance or inspire you to adjust anything?
Garrett Hedlund: I don’t like to watch things exactly because of that. You can become vain, or you start doing things differently, or standing differently, or looking differently. You become very aware of what you’re doing. I try and knock out the awareness.
HBO: How do you respond to people who describe the app experience as a choose-your-own-adventure story?
Garrett Hedlund: When we signed on, everybody was very quick to call it a “choose your own adventure.” I quickly found it was not. It’s more a balancing narrative. You can choose the route through the story, but it’s still going to be the same ending. The camera angles between the narratives do switch: It’s very interesting to see how suspicious or conniving certain characters appear just because of how the camera is working.
I’d say it’s a murder mystery with many different outlooks and perspectives that have a unique trail towards the ending and its conclusions.