Justin Timberlake discovered it wasn’t easy to play a romantic lifeguard in Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel”.
As Mickey, Timberlake narrates the 1950s-set film, talking directly to the audience, and carries on an affair with Kate Winslet’s unhappily married Ginny.
“It’s funny”, Timberlake, 36, said. “These characters have all had something tragic happen to them. If you look at them on paper, there is no hope. But Mickey” — who lives in artsy Greenwich Village and attends NYU — “has a future”.
As a lifeguard Timberlake wasn’t exactly high and dry.
“Speaking to the audience I was by myself — by that I mean being on top of a 12-foot lifeguard stand on Coney Island with extras around, a (expletive) of paparazzi and I’m in swim shorts I cannot get out of.
“So there were”, he said with a laugh, “some factors I literally and figuratively had to put to the side and make it all happen”.
His first meeting with Ginny was scripted as a sunny day. The reality was wet: “The only time it stopped raining was when the wind was so fierce.
“So the elements are against us. I’m on top of this really tall stand and I had this really large industrial-size umbrella behind me. Literally it’s like a kite each time the wind blows and it weighs as much as I do.
“I’m to get all these props down and go to Ginny. I ask Woody, ‘How am I to do this?’
“Well”, Timberlake said imitating Allen’s distinctive New York accent, “you’ll just climb down and get to her”.
Enter the filmmaker after the first take.
“Woody in his chinos, bucket hat, glasses and sandals with socks, it’s very cute, shuffles up to me, ‘Well? The audience has left for their dinner’.
“I busted out laughing and said, ‘Well next time give me a clown nose and a little car with all these other clowns and we can all get out and run to Oscar winner Kate Winslet’.
“And he busts out laughing. ‘I know, it was supposed to be a sunny day. But if I could shoot every scene on the beach in the rain I would. It’s very romantic. You know, you are a very good actor. You’ll figure it out’.
“And I went to Kate and we figured it out, we did”.