Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen – The World is Full of Tiny Perfect Things
Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen
The World is Full of Tiny Perfect Things
by Jay S. Jacobs
People are fascinated by the idea of having the ability to do things over until they get them right. But what if you must keep doing them until you do?
This is a conundrum that has fascinated filmmakers since Groundhog Day became a classic hit in 1993. In recent years, many films have tried on the concept, adding their own little variations and tones.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a new one, and one of the better movies to try on this concept. (It is also self-aware enough to namecheck Groundhog Day a few times in the script.) In this film, two characters are stuck in the time loop, trying to fix their messed-up lives and perhaps even finding friendship or love. The movie is based on a short story by Lev Grossman and directed by Ian Samuels (Sierra Burgess is a Loser).
The characters are Mark (Kyle Allen) and Margaret (Katheryn Newton), two Alabama young adults who find themselves in this freaky time anomaly. Then they realize there is someone else who is also lost in the time warp, so they team up to help each other get back to life as normal. However, Margaret seems to find this unending present somewhat comforting and is not sure she is ready to move on.
The two leads are young actors who are starting to catch a buzz in Hollywood. Newton has been in the films Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Freaky, Blockers, Detective Pikachu and Ladybird, as well as being one of the co-stars of HBO’s popular series Big Little Lies. She is also going to be in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Allen started out as a dancer and has been in the TV series American Horror Story: Apocalypse and The Path. He is also going to be one of the Jets in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming remake of the classic musical West Side Story.
About a week before The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is set to debut on Amazon Prime, we caught up with stars Newton and Allen to discuss the movie, the quirks of time, living in the era of quarantine, and the search for tiny perfect things.
What was it about this script that intrigued you and made you want to be a part of it?
Kyle Allen: The fresh take on a classic, a classic time loop formula. It's such a beautiful and heartfelt take about young people dealing with really dramatic and intense circumstances. As well, as you know, Kathryn Newton.
Kathryn Newton: (touched) Aww, thanks, Kyle. I feel like I was really attracted to the character of Margaret. I wanted to find out why she was the way she was and why she didn't want to move on from this time loop. Kind of what Kyle just said, I think it's a good reflection of what it means to just be a teenager. Feeling like every day is the same, like you're in a teenage wasteland and not knowing when the future is ever going to come.
Kathryn Newton: The most important lesson that I took away from it is that you create your future right now, in every moment. In seeing the best out of every moment. That's how you grow, and you have to keep growing. I was really interested in our director Ian [Samuels]. He is so special. He really created this world for us, as actors to play in freely. The producers behind the project only make good movies, at FilmNation and from Akiva Goldsman to Aaron Ryder to Greg Lessans that Lev [Grossman] wrote and Ashley Fox, it was just a team of people that I wanted to know and learn from.
Were either of you familiar with Lev Grossman's original story before getting involved with the film?
Kyle Allen: Really, I didn't know the story. The short story by Lev Grossman is just so beautiful and fresh. You can really get in there. I just love the way he's able to see that world through these characters’ eyes. I just think it's so unique.
Kathryn Newton: I read the short story and felt like the script and the story really went perfectly together. In the movie you dig deeper into Margaret's story, as well. The story that Lev wrote set up the perfect world for us to just create something out of nothing.
If you were able to revisit the same day over and over again, where would you want to be and what would you want to be doing?
Kathryn Newton: Oooh. The best day I've ever had was probably the day that Three Billboards and Ladybird and Big Little Lies all were at the Golden Globes, and they all won. I felt like a fairy going to all these parties and knowing everybody at all the parties. I think I saw Kyle that night, too. It was like the first time Kyle and I ever met, actually. Kyle's a dancer, a very prolific dancer, and he created a whole party. We were like the only two young people there. I had so much fun. Then I never saw him again, until he walked in to read for Mark. I was like, “He's the perfect Mark.” That would be a good day to relive. (laughs)
Like you said, you slightly knew each other. What was it like getting to work together? How quickly did you get into a rhythm as costars?
Kyle Allen: Pretty immediately. The crew and the producers and everyone created a really great environment. Fairhope [Alabama, where the movie was filmed] is just a magical spot. Everyone really set us up to succeed. We were able to just come and do our job.
Kathryn Newton: I really felt like Kyle was Mark. I was Margaret, too. It was easy.
Kyle Allen: We very much were these characters. (laughs) So I think we really were able to sink into a very deep level very quickly. Things that are typically challenging on a set for us, it was very smooth. It was very, very manageable. It left open for all the extra magical things to happen, because all the drudgery, the work, it was just instantly out of the way.
Kathryn Newton: I just felt like we didn't have to do much. It was all on the page. Our director Ian treated us with such respect for our ideas in who these people were. When Kyle and I were in a scene together, all I had to do is listen and watch him and connect. Then it was easy.
Why do you think people are so fascinated with the idea of being able to do things over and over again until they get it right? At what point so you think it would go from being something positive to a bit of a chore?
Kyle Allen: It's sometimes it's hard to accept that you don't get a do over. The passage through time is so permanent. It's one of the only things that is permanent. It's that paradoxical thing – the only thing that never changes is change. Just wishing you could say this thing to this person, wishing you could do it. It's very typical of humans to be like, “Well, I really want that. I really wish I had that.” Then when you get it, there's strings attached. That's not how you grow, because you're not digesting the consequences.
What are some tiny, perfect things that you've experienced in your own lives?
Kathryn Newton: I'm so happy you brought that up. While we were filming the movie, I think we all felt an air of like, everything's magic all of a sudden. We'd be in the car on the way to set and see like a playground with little kids. Two kids would hug each other, and we'd be like screaming. That is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Or a scene that only took one take became another perfect moment. I think we all took away from it that it's all your perception of what's good. You can make anything good. All that matters is what you think. So I'm experiencing perfect moments all the time. I feel like I'm in a time loop right now in quarantine. Every morning is an opportunity for me to really enjoy that cup of coffee, my perfect cup of coffee. It’s whatever I want it to be.
Kyle Allen: One thing I have learned during all of this is that there's only one moment and it's now. It's absolutely what you make it. The quality of your life is dictated by your ability to appreciate that moment.
The movie talked about a couple of classic time movies. Obviously, like Kyle said, Groundhog Day is a classic, but Time Bandits is a bit more obscure. They both came out before either of you were born. Were you familiar with the two movies? And did you rewatch them or watch them for the first time to get ready for the movie?
Kyle Allen: I was familiar with Groundhog Day. I wasn't familiar….
Kathryn Newton: Did we watch it together?
Kyle Allen: We didn't watch it together. We watched Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Kathryn Newton: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Kyle Allen: We watched Spotless Mind together.
Kathryn Newton: … and Mood Indigo…
Kyle Allen: We watched those together. I watched Time Bandits, per recommendation of the script. As well as a lot of Doctor Who. That gave me like a lot of insight to the kind of world we were building. You want to cuddle up with one of your favorite movies. It's odd and it's quirky, but there's this light that shines through it that supersedes time. I think that's really is the message in the film.
I was reading that the filming started early last year, which was right about the same time the whole COVID thing was coming together. How did that affect the filming process?
Kathryn Newton: We started filming in February. It was right before we ended. Aaron Ryder, our producer… we stopped, we had two days left of production. It was such a strange experience to be on a movie in a bubble. Then the whole world is flipped upside down. It didn't feel like it was real. He took us all aside was like, “We have to stop filming and everybody's got to go home.” We were like, “No, I just want to stay in Fairhope.” We thought about it, actually. We thought about staying there.
Kyle Allen: We did.
Kathryn Newton: It's weird that it's been a whole year. I had my birthday on set – my 23rd birthday. Now my birthday is coming up next week. So I'm like: where did this year go? It happened so fast.
Kyle Allen: It evaporated.
The movie world has been sort of turned upside down by this whole thing. People aren't generally going to theaters, so movies like yours are going directly onto platforms like Amazon Prime, or Netflix, or HBO Max or something. How do you think that helps for people to learn about your movie like yours?
Kathryn Newton: It makes our film really accessible. The whole goal of making a film is you just want people to see it. In a car, on your phone, on an airplane – just watch it. Just to be in people's homes is really, really cool. I love the experience of watching a movie. Who are you going to watch it with? What do you want to eat? Very important. Now, you can just watch it in bed and feel like you're with us.
Kyle Allen: Yeah, I think it's wonderful that the whole digital landscape is just filled with so much opportunity. People who even might not even go to the theater to see this film might end up seeing this film or watching the trailer. It might be next to another film that they might be able to watch. You can broaden someone's horizons, what they consume for entertainment, being on a digital platform.
On a more personal note, how are you guys getting along in the whole socially distant, stay at home world?
Kathryn Newton: I love it. I've been on the road for a while. The past four years, [I went from] project after project where I had like a month home maximum. This is the most time I've gotten to spend with my parents since high school. They've been quarantined in my house here in LA and I love it. I've been playing so much golf. I think it's just a good note that this movie is coming out right now. Because you feel like your future’s right now. I feel like I'm in a limbo, doing the same thing over and over again. How is the future going to be any different than right now? It's hard to imagine better days, but you have to know that they're coming. Just keep dreaming.
Kyle Allen: Absolutely. You make the best of it. You find little beautiful things no matter what. I think that's evident in some of the darkest places and the darkest times of history. I don't feel like we're even close to that. People find a way to find the most beautiful things in the darkest places. Just taking one out of their book, having a good perspective, and just applying that for the rest of my life. There are just little things that I'm going to be grateful for the rest of my life. This entire generation, when this ends, we'll just be grateful to meet a stranger and not be afraid of them, to a certain capacity. Things like shaking hands. Things like not leaning back when a waiter comes up to you to restaurant or something. Any of those things, I think people are just going to really be grateful to have it.
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