Matt Ross On His Double Life As Acclaimed Director Of ‘Captain Fantastic’ And Playing Gavin Belson

Senior Entertainment Writer
11.04.16 3 Comments

Getty Image / Bleecker Street

On Friday afternoon, publicist Peggy Siegal held a banquet for the film Captain Fantastic at Manhattan’s Explorers’ Club. After the lunch and a panel discussion, I spoke to Matt Ross, Captain Fantastic‘s writer and director. Ross is kind of living a double life right now: He’s a celebrated filmmaker whose film – which premiered back at Sundance, then played at Cannes before making its way through arthouses this past summer – is now getting serious awards buzz. (It’s also now out on Blu-ray and available on streaming platforms.) But, yes, he’s also Gavin Belson on Silicon Valley. He’s known for both, but even Ross admits a lot of people don’t realize that he’s the same person.

Captain Fantastic stars Viggo Mortensen (who I also spoke with and we will run that interview next week) as Ben, a father of six who’s raising his family off the grid in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. After his wife’s suicide, he brings his family back to civilization to attend the funeral. What follows is alternately funny and heartbreaking. It’s one of the most unusual films of 2016 and it’s great that Bleecker Street is giving it an awards push.

During the panel, Ross mentioned that his vision for the star of the film was a “40-something Harrison Ford.” Which of course led me to think of The Mosquito Coast, but Ross swears it wasn’t an inspiration. Ahead, Ross talks about his little film that’s making so much noise, his “double life” also playing Gavin Belson. And how he’s now almost “retroactively” (because we all recognize him now) in a lot of big movies, like The Aviator and American Psycho. (But first I couldn’t resist to ask about the time Uproxx got a mention on Silicon Valley.)

Uproxx got a specific mention on Silicon Valley this season.

Oh, right! Cool.

We enjoyed that, even though it wasn’t the most flattering mention.

So in the context you didn’t think it was flattering?

Well, it seems like one of Erlich’s favorite sites, so…

[Laughs.] Right.

You mentioned your original idea for Ben was Harrison Ford in his 40s. The first movie I thought of was Allie Fox in The Mosquito Coast.



Nope. I didn’t have any specific film in mind. He was in Witness. Of course he was Han Solo. Then The Mosquito Coast. There was a selection of films that he was in. The Mosquito Coast reference I wasn’t cognizant of until my brother read the script and said, “This character reminds me of The Mosquito Coast.” But I didn’t really make that connection, no.

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