The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The cast and crew of “The Greatest Hits” on rehearsing, inspiration and finding the heart of a story

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Maya Oclassen

Searchlight Pictures held a roundtable with the cast and crew of their new film “The Greatest Hits” on Monday, April 15. Stars Lucy Boynton, Justin H. Min, Austin Crute and writer/director Ned Benson were asked a series of questions by a number of college publications from across the US. Topics varied from how the actors found community with one another, what kinds of experiences informed the on-set environment, and how Benson tried to navigate the emotional core of each character. 

“The Greatest Hits” is the story of Harriet (Boynton), an emotionally stunted music producer who is afflicted by a strange condition that forces her to time travel to the past whenever she hears music that reminds her of her deceased ex-boyfriend Max (David Corenswet). Living in Los Angeles with her friend Morris (Crute), Harriet goes about her days reliving specific moments in time trying to save Max from his fatal car crash. However, when her sheltered life is interrupted by the appearance of the charismatic David (Min), Harriet must figure out what she wants from life and love. 

Benson, returning to the director’s chair a decade after his debut feature film “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” found comfort in the film’s inventive new time travel mechanics. He originally developed the concept in 2009 after reading “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” by neurologist Oliver Sacks. 

“I wrote it a long time ago and I let it sit, but then I came back to it around COVID,” Benson said. “The nostalgia of certain music really appealed to me when we were all cooped up inside. The communal aspects of music, the concerts, parties, collectors – it’s an art form everyone appreciates.”

Min, whose career has hit every corner of the medium since his acting debut only ten years ago, described the atmosphere on set. “It was kind of a goldilocks scenario between something with a huge budget like ‘Umbrella Academy’ and something smaller like ‘After Yang,’” Min said.

“While there were certainly some effects heavy set pieces, I mostly remember hanging out with these guys on the weekends at Ned’s place,” Min said. “The community you get from just being around other people is so helpful to getting great performances on screen.” 

While rehearsal plays an important part in developing character, the core of building people begins in the script phase. In creating the character of Morris, Benson said “I was reflecting on what I was seeing. The music scene is indebted to so many queer artists, I based the character of Morris on gay DJ Larry Levan, it was important to have that real life ”

“It felt like I was honoring that part of my heritage not just as an actor but as a musician,” said Crute, who plays Morris and is himself a queer musician. “I’ve never been a DJ, and for this part I had to learn a lot of analog technology that helped bring me closer to the character and music as an art form.”

The budget for “The Greatest Hits” is currently unknown, but Min claims that it was a mid-budget film for the studio. While ranges vary, a mid-budget film usually costs between $20 and $80 million.

“It’s unfortunately a dying breed of film, the kind that I really love,” Min said.

Smaller films can succeed due to small budgets, with even a meager box office gross allowing them to break even. A mid-budget film isn’t expensive enough to provide the bombast to draw in broad audiences, nor is it cheap enough to make back enough to make money. 

Mid-budget films are now mostly relegated to streaming, as is the case with “The Greatest Hits.”

Culture writer Leah Asmelash reported on the issue last year. 

“Whereas movie studios typically want to reach as broad an audience as possible theatrically, streaming services are all about the niche: attempting to appeal to very specific audiences through algorithms.” Asmelash said in the article. 

Initially premiering at the 2024 South By Southwest Film Festival, “The Greatest Hits” ran a brief theatrical run  April 5th. It is now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu.

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