Eve Hewson Confronted Fear Of Singing For ‘Flora and Son’ – Deadline

By diving headlong into the title role for Flora and Son, Eve Hewson — the daughter of U2 frontman Bono — conquered her fear of singing, the actress said at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles in a panel with co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the film’s composer and primary songwriter Gary Clark.

Hewson, who played instruments before she turned to acting, said she jumped at the chance to play Flora in spite of the vocal work that the part would demand because she loved the script and the character — a struggling but very spirited single mother in Dublin trying to make peace with the wayward adolescent son she bore as a teenager. 

“I just thought, ‘I could not let this person get away from me. I have to play this part. And I’m just going to have to get over my fear of singing — it’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do — and just go for it,’” she said.

“And it’s ended up being such a rewarding experience on many different levels, but [on] almost sort of a psychological-emotional level for me, it’s like I faced my fear and I’ve moved past it and I feel pretty good about it.”

RELATED: ‘Flora And Son’ Review: Eve Hewson Breaks Out In John Carney’s Latest

In the Apple Original Films release, Flora is at her wits end when she picks up a guitar that she had previously tried to give to son Max (Orén Kinlan), a fan of DJ and hip-hop culture who would rather sling beats on his laptop. 

Going online for musical help, Flora hires a burned-out L.A. singer-songwriter, Jeff (Gordon-Levitt), to teach her six-string basics. As that long-distance connection deepens, mother and son in Dublin stumble into a musical partnership of their own, with Max on beats and Flora on the guitar she rescued from a dumpster. 

Music is both foreground and background in this comedic slice of life about music’s power to help people find one another.

RELATED: ‘Flora And Son’ Songwriter-Composer Gary Clark On How He And Director John Carney Found The High Life – Sound & Screen Film

Gordon-Levitt, who performs a rooftop duet “Meet in the Middle” with Hewson in a key scene, apparently had none of his co-star’s misgivings about performing. 

“’Oh, man you have to let me do this. It’s about a guy teaching guitar on the internet’,” the sometime guitarist and songwriter (and founder of the online music and art company HitRecord) said he told writer and director John Carney.

“At first he wanted a professional, established musician,” Gordon-Levitt said. “I was like, ‘No, what you need is someone who’s not a musician but can play enough and will feel like a real guy.’ ”

The on-screen collaboration between Flora and Max, meanwhile, represents a kind of household truce and, with some musical trial and error that the movie doesn’t hesitate to show, eventually leads to an honest-to-goodness song, “High Life.”

The winsome “High Life” was written for the film by the Scottish musician Clark, who had a transatlantic hit in the ’80s with “Mary’s Prayer,” a melancholy bop by his band Danny Wilson.

Clark said that songs he wrote — and one he co-wrote with Hewson and Gordon-Levitt — for the film, had to traverse a “fine line” between sounding like the work of amateur musicians just finding their voices and sounding composed enough to be listenable.

After shooting a scene in which “High Life” is performed, for example, he played it back and thought, “The track felt too tight and too, just, professional.” So he went in and “reverse engineered” the more pristine version and “loosened up some of the parts,” he said.

And when Carney asked for a less developed version of “Meet in the Middle” to represent the song’s evolution, Clark again had to work his way backward from the rooftop version sung by Gordon-Levitt and Hewson — which was itself (and stay with us here) also left deliberately incomplete for story reasons.

“I tried to make it sound just a little bit boring by adding an extra line where you never would as a songwriter,” Clark said. “And Joe is a songwriter — he’s being very coy there. I played it to him and he went, ‘Gary, do you think we should just have two lines there?’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m trying to make it boring, Joe.’ ”

The good news, said Hewson, is that she, Gordon-Levitt and Clark have gone ahead and finally added finishing touches to “Meet in the Middle.”

“In the script Joe says, ‘Now all we need is a bridge,’” said Clark. “So we’ve written a bridge.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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