'Jules' Crashlands in a Small-Town Seniors' Backyard

 

Last updated 11/11/2023 at 1:15pm | View PDF

Jane Curtin, Harriet Sansom Harris, Sir Ben Kingsley and Jade Quon in "Jules." (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street)

In the new movie "Jules," Milton (played by Academy Award-winner Sir Ben Kingsley) is a small-town senior with a fading memory who leads a quiet life of routine in western Pennsylvania, until late one night when a loud boom wakes him from sleep. The next morning, he finds that an extraterrestrial spacecraft has crash landed in his backyard, destroying his birdbath and stranding its alien pilot.

Milton invites the alien (Jade Quon) into his home, and the two - each one isolated in their own way - begin to develop a rapport. Soon Milton's neighbors, Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris) and Joyce (Jane Curtin), discover the visitor whom they've nicknamed "Jules," and together the trio conspire to keep Jules' presence a secret from the town and from the government that is furiously searching for the mysterious craft.

They've seen the movies and they know exactly what happens to beings from outer space. The unlikely visitor's arrival in their midst gives purpose and a later-in-life connection to these new friends in this funny, wildly inventive and unusual sci-fi tale.

The Cast

"I initially saw Jules as a 'King Lear' story," said Kingsley, "but then it was the element of surprise that hooked me to the script."

Director Marc Turtletaub recalled a moment early in filming when he met Kingsley in his trailer.

"He said, 'Marc, I just want you to know, you can let go of Milton now. I've got it.' He was telling me that he understood Milton, and to let him bring the character to the table unmediated."

"The most important gesture a director can make is to offer the actor the role," said Kingsley. "It's an extraordinary act. To hand over this project - one that the director may have been working on for years - over to the actors, is an act of enormous trust, and it's very inspiring for the actor."

Harris plays Sandy, a resident of their small town. In contrast to Milton, Sandy is overtly seeking connection, as a possible mentor to a younger person (a wish that proves treacherous), and as a potential friend to Milton.

Upon receiving the script Harris said, "I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is a great part. What would be more fun than to get to work with Sir Ben?' And it was. He's so inspired - divinely inspired, I think.

"The isolation that exists for the characters in this movie was really brought home to me, and I started to look at the movie differently," she said. "I started to look at how much you really need people and how hard it is at certain points in your life to make friends and to get excited by an idea that exists between a group of friends. I think it did mean more to us than it might have otherwise. Jules has certain layers of depth that we probably could have gotten to, but I don't know that we would have thought it was as necessary."

Sir Ben Kingsley in "Jules." (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street.)

"I just adore Harriet and had a great time working with her," said Curtin who plays Joyce, the third of Jules' earthling companions. Joyce is brusque, annoyed and the character most experienced in life outside their small town.

"She lives alone and the reason that she can get by is that she won a slip-and-fall case against the town," Curtin laughed. "Nobody likes her. She may think everybody likes her, but nobody really does."

"Jane Curtin is a gifted comic actress and has had a wonderful career in comedy," said Kingsley, "but she was so incredibly brave for being so vulnerable in this role."

Zoë Winters, who plays Milton's daughter Denise, described sharing scenes with Kingsley as "unbelievable. What an incredible, incredible iconic actor."

"Jules" is currently viewable on Prime Video, Apple TV and Redbox.

 

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