Contact Us | About Us |
Movie Screenings Sweepstakes Special Offers
Campus Circle > Film > Special Features
Archives
Film: Special Features

Land Ho!? It All Began with an Icelandic Travel Brochure

By Susan King
<i>Land Ho!</i>? It All Began with an Icelandic Travel Brochure
Paul Eenhoorn as Colin and Earl Lynn Nelson as Mitch.
(Credit: Andrew Reed, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)





Article tools
sponsored by

The quirky senior buddy comedy Land Ho! may be the first movie inspired by a vacation brochure and a very outrageous doctor.

Independent filmmaker Martha Stephens was planning a vacation trip with her husband to Iceland last year but her thoughts kept returning to her larger-than-life Southern cousin, Dr. Earl Lynn Nelson.

"I was looking at this location and I was like, 'Imagine Earl Lynn there,'" said Stephens, 30.

The 72-year-old eye surgeon, who loves a good party and his tequila, proved to be a natural screen presence in small parts in Stephens' earlier films Passenger Pigeons and Pilgrim Song.

It was a good friend of Stephens, director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), who told her she needed to put the Kentucky native — who looks and sounds like the late singer-actor Phil Harris — in a leading role in a movie

So Stephens called indie filmmaker Aaron Katz (Quiet City), whom she has known since they attended film school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, to see whether he would like to collaborate with her on a film set in the sparsely populated Nordic island and featuring Nelson.

"When I talked to Aaron about making the movie together, we tossed around ideas," said Stephens, including a father and son scenario. "We decided it would be about these two guys who had a history, but things had separated them, just to add a little bit more weight to the relationship."

They wrote Land Ho! throughout the winter of 2013 — Stephens lives in West Virginia and Katz, 32, in Los Angeles. Most of the film was shot in just 16 days in September and October in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, and various locations in the beautiful, wild countryside just before the harsh winter hit the island.

And just a year after Stephens came up with the basic concept, the film premiered in Sundance in January and opens theatrically Friday. Green is one of the executive producers.

The filmmakers needed the right actor to complement Nelson's grandiose personality (both on-screen and off). They both had admired the performance of Paul Eenhoorn, 65, an Australian-born, Seattle-based theater actor, in the 2013 indie This Is Martin Bonner. They thought his more restrained persona "would be a perfect balance" for Nelson, said Katz. "Throughout the film, they really do balance each other."

Land Ho! finds Nelson playing the divorced Mitch, a relentlessly enthusiastic, often profane retired eye doctor who invites his former brother-in-law, Colin (Eenhoorn), to go on a trip to Iceland. Colin, a reserved Australian who is still smarting from a recent divorce from his second wife, reluctantly agrees. During their travels, this oddest of couples meet women, squabble, drink and smoke pot — a lot.

The actors' real-life selves aren't far removed from their reel-life alter egos. In fact, spur-of-the-moment adventures are nothing new for Nelson.

Nelson recalled that when he lived in New Orleans, "I used to carry my damn passport every place I went. I would be at a bar there in Bourbon Street and there would be three guys and they'd say, 'Let's go to Mexico.'"

During a recent interview with the directors and their stars at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Nelson dominated the conversation while Eenhoorn listened to his co-star with droll amusement — similar to their movie personas.

"He is who he is," said Eenhoorn. "He is ... huge."

"I act every day," said Nelson. "I am me in the movie. Paul just kind of helped me out with it."

Eenhoorn and Nelson first met in May 2013, when they shot the opening 10 minutes at Nelson's house in Kentucky. Nelson immediately felt a connection to Eenhoorn. But then he feels an immediate connection to everyone.

"I have never met a stranger," he boomed in the small conference room. "I never have. I liked him right off the bat. I gave him a big hug and a kiss and said, 'By the way, I need to operate on your eyelids."'

Eenhoorn didn't bond quite so quickly.

"I think I bonded like six months later," he said dryly. "You get to appreciate the effort that Earl Lynn put in because it was a physically demanding film. It was a big ask for directors to put someone in that position to carry a co-lead in a film. The longer between shooting and now I get to appreciate how good Earl Lynn is."

The film was a collaborative effort between the stars and the directors. "Every evening, one of them would come to my hotel room and go over the script," recalled Nelson. "And they would write in the margin, 'Here is what we want to get across.'"

Though there was a script, the actors often didn't stick to what was written on the page, which makes their performances very natural, said Stephens.

"The bones were there," said Eenhoorn. "Sometimes, we would start a scene at the wrong end and go backward. It was very free-form."

Follow Susan King on Twitter at @mymackie

UPDATES

1 p.m.: In a previous version of this post, the photo caption misidentified Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson.

———

©2014 the Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Article posted on 7/15/2014
This article has been viewed 498 times.














Read Campus Circle

View Issues Online
Current and past issues
Download
View Issues

Download Current Issue
Download Current Issue
PDF Format
Related Articles You Might Like...

Special Features Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon Break Hollywood's Female Mold with Tammy 384 views

Special Features Boyhood Captures Fictional Family Growing Up in Real Time: The film follows the actors for more than a decade. 380 views

Special Features LOOK: A Full List of What's Playing at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival 2,282 views

Special Features What to Expect at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival: Taking place at L.A. Live from June 11-19! 391 views

Special Features Jon Hamm and Disney Roll the Dice on a Hollywood Comedy 341 views

Special Features LOOK: 12 Summer '14 Indie Movies You Have to Watch 437 views

Special Features From 'Mad Men' to God's Pocket & Another Glimpse of Philip Seymour Hoffman: Q&As w/Dir. John Slattery This Weekend. Details below. 364 views

Special Features Zac Efron, Seth Rogen Sort of Grow Up in Neighbors 214 views

Special Features PHOTOS: 2014 Summer Movie Preview: Comedy, action, horror, romance -- this season's hottest flicks are coming to theaters! 549 views

Special Features Amazing Spider-Man Star is Trying to Preserve a Shred of Secret Identity 443 views
Member Comments