The Big Picture
- Director Niclas Larsson managed to assemble an impressive cast of A-list actors for his debut film, Mother, Couch, through genuine storytelling and a script that embraces absurdity.
- Larsson’s previous experience as a director in commercials and shorts, as well as his ability to write heartfelt letters, helped convince the talented cast to join the project.
- Mother, Couch tells the story of estranged siblings brought together by their mother’s refusal to leave a couch in a furniture store, exploring themes of family drama and personal truths amidst the wackiness and horror of the protagonist’s nervous breakdown.
Most directors won’t have the privilege of casting A-list actors for their debut film. For his first turn behind the camera for a feature, however, Niclas Larsson reeled in some heavy firepower. His film Mother, Couch features prolific Emmy winner Ewan McGregor, Academy Award winners Ellen Burstyn and F. Murray Abraham, BAFTA winner Rhys Ifans, and recent Bones & All star Taylor Russell, a team that most first-time feature filmmakers would kill for. In an interview with Steve Weintraub at Collider’s TIFF media studio at the Cinema Center at MARBL, Larsson revealed just how he managed to bring so many stars on board for his bizarre dramedy.
Although landing so many top actors on such an unusual project evokes jokes of blackmail, Larsson assures it came down to a bit of letter-writing and a genuine script that fully embraces absurdity similar to something like Beau Is Afraid. Moreover, it helps that he’s not a completely inexperienced director either. Larsson has multiple commercials and shorts to his name, including the Alicia Vikander and Anna Wintour-led The Magic Diner films. His guiding hand behind the camera has earned him praise in the past too, including earning nominations from the Directors Guild of America for his Volvo and Volkswagen commercial work. Larsson gives most of the credit to his script, though, saying:
“Yeah, I hired a bunch of paparazzi, nude shots of Ellen through the window, and yeah, yeah, yeah, and I just said, ‘Look, do you want this or…?’ I’m a letter writer. I wrote letters to them. No, it’s a dream cast, man. I’m so lucky. I mean, these are the best actors in the world. I think when you write something genuinely from the heart, actors have an ability, an incredible ability, to sense truth in the script. I think that’s what they read, and that’s why I was able to get this cast. I was truly writing from the heart, and those actors you see in the movie, they were my first choice, really. So it was as easy as handing over the script, having a cup of tea with Ellen Burstyn, and she said she wanted to do it.”
What Is ‘Mother, Couch’ About?
Larsson adapted his feature debut from Jerker Virdborg’s book Mamma I Sofa, telling the story of estranged siblings drawn together after their mother (Burstyn) refuses to get off a couch at a furniture store. David (McGregor) wants nothing more than to leave and tend to his concerns outside the store, turning to his brother (Ifans) and sister (Lara Flynn Boyle) as he becomes increasingly concerned about their mother. There’s a lot of room in there for personal truths and family drama amidst all the wackiness and horror of McGregor’s nervous breakdown. Lake Bell is also aboard the cast.
Mother, Couch is currently looking for a distributor for release in theaters. In the meantime stay tuned here at Collider for more coverage from TIFF 2023. Watch the full interview with Larsson below.