Felicity Huffman gives a "perfectly tuned" performance as a pre-op transsexual travelling cross-country with her long-lost son (Kevin Zegers) in Transamerica. She won a Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nomination while writer/director Duncan Tucker bagged a few festival gongs for his big-screen directorial debut.
The Road To Transformation
It wasn't the layers of makeup that proved the biggest challenge for Huffman's transformation (playing a man living as a woman), but finding the right voice. In a revealing conversation with Duncan Tucker she explains how daunting this was and that in the end she hired a voice coach to help her out. During the shoot she had to warm up with vocal exercises every morning for at least half-an-hour. But even with all the hard work Huffman reckons that playing a role so far removed from her own experience is "an actor's dream". Aside from her voice coach, the actress also pays tribute to her husband William H Macy who came on board as executive producer very late in the day to help secure a distribution deal with Harvey Weinstein. See, it's not what you know...
Duncan Tucker has a separate conversation with Kevin Zegers in which he admits to nearly turning him down for the role for Bree's son. Apparently his exact words where "No way in hell", because he's so "ridiculously pretty". Thankfully, Tucker was eventually able to look past the fine bone structure and allowed Zegers to audition, but then they hit another stumbling block. The young actor recalls the first day of rehearsals when he arrived two minutes late and got a stern telling off from Huffman. Perhaps it was just method acting?
The Ring Master
Tucker takes us way off the beaten track in his audio commentary. He talks about being inspired by fantasy adventure films as he sat down to write this script, asking himself the question, "How can I write Lord Of The Rings on a low budget?" He goes even further with this analogy, calling Bree "Frodo in a dress", because she embarks on a journey to "get rid of a treasure she doesn't want..." We get past the dodgy euphemisms later on as he talks about the challenges he faced during the shoot like a couple of freak thunderstorms and securing a convincing prosthetic penis on a shoestring budget. Apparently the fully urinating version costs $20,000(!), but they managed to improvise with a bit of latex and a drill bit for $12.95. Blue Peter, eat your heart out.
Cameras go behind-the-scenes during the recording of Dolly Parton's Travelin' Thru which serves as the theme song for the film. It was Tucker's idea to get her on board and she talks about the process of writing the song, ie relating to the idea of "waiting to be loved." Definitely no prosthetic enhancements here though...
Of course the music video is included on the disc along with biographies of cast and crew and a blooper reel (kudos to Maurice Orozco and his 'pickle barrel' joke). Although lacking in any other direct behind-the-scenes access, curious Huffman fans will find this a small but nicely formed package. Ooh er missus.