16 Jun 2024

Jojo T. Gibbs: „Este atât de lung drumul până la finalizarea unui film“

American-born actress Jojo T. Gibbs filmed her role in Luc Besson's "Dogman" almost concurrently with her role in Alex Garland's "Civil War." This leap forward came after years of hard work and trials. During our brief interview, I discovered a lively and confident woman who speaks with just as much enthusiasm about her experiences as an actress, but also as a spectator, creator, or team member. And at the end of our conversation, she hurried to make it to the Pride parade.

Jojo T. Gibbs will be present at the TIFF Lounge for a public discussion as part of InspiraTIFF.

How was Friday night?

I had a wonderful time! It was fantastic. First of all, the volunteers… incredible! Such synchronicity and how quickly they work! We went to the square and there was nothing there, then we returned a few hours later and they had an entire cinema set up. For me, it's inspiring to see how passionate everyone is. TIFF seems to be a hub for people who share the same values and appreciate art.

How was the first public screening of the film?

They hadn't finished with the green screen yet, they hadn't finished a large part of the editing. It was a rough cut and, I must admit, I was a bit worried. (laughs) But Luc was so enthusiastic and just wanted everyone to see the film and said not to judge it yet.

Then they did a few more screenings to get feedback from the audience, and one of the things people said was that they wanted to know more about Evelyn. So Luc and Virginie, his wife, called me and said: Hey, where in the world are you? And I said: I'm in Greece. And they said: Can you come to Paris to shoot some additional scenes? We shot three more scenes. Including the one with me and the child. The first child didn't make it into the final cut. It was a girl initially. It was incredible to see the process. It's such a long road to complete a film. The fact that they brought me back to Paris to add scenes…

Because the audience asked for it…

They said they didn't understand why she feels such a connection with him, what her internal struggle is. Why does she feel pain? They wanted a more detailed explanation.

And how did you feel about that?

I also felt it was the right choice. But it's not exactly okay to say: "You know, Luc, maybe you should add some scenes with me!" (laughs) Right? But I did it after he told me the feedback. It made sense because she's a central character and it would have been too vague to just see her in prison, not in her personal life.

Dogman is the story of a man pursued by misfortune. Luc Besson, however, transforms him into a superhero. Then he chooses to gradually reveal him through your character: a psychiatrist, a divorced mother. Why do you think he made this choice?

I think he wanted someone who would make Douglas open up. Let's say it had been a policeman instead of her. I don't think there would have been as much empathy. I think some of the questions Evelyn asks are more out of a curiosity about survival. She becomes emotionally attached without realizing it. They come to have a mutual understanding of pain and experiences with people who are supposed to love you. I think that's where the empathy came from.

What do you think of Douglas?

He is one of those individuals who are born into a world where struggle is already a constant. I think Dogman is a marginalized person, very misunderstood. I liked that Luc had him do drag, but that had nothing to do with his sexuality, it just showed that he didn't care. If you unlock that, you can do anything. If you learn not to care about people's opinions, their thoughts, or how they perceive you, that's the key. So Dogman is unique in that sense.

Then, I think he's like a dog. Dogs don't care about your exterior, but about how you treat them. Their love isn't based on superficial things. In Los Angeles, there are homeless people everywhere with dogs, and their dogs love them regardless of circumstances. That's kind of how Douglas is too.

Does the Doberman stay with Evelyn?

Yes, the Doberman was sent there to protect her. That scene wasn't originally there either. I think it was Luc Besson's way of connecting things, of bringing everything together and closing the circle.

Today you will be at the TIFF Lounge for a public discussion. So I wanted to talk a little about how you started and how you got here, working on "Dogman" and "Civil War" at the same time, which is a fantastic achievement, but the beginnings weren't like that. You fought to get here. Yet even now, your online description presents you as an actress, writer, producer, comedian. Is that correct? Because it sounds like a lot of work.

Yes, exactly. That's what I'm trying to do. For example, I just filmed a one-hour special. For my birthday, I do a comedy show because I want to test my skills. I filmed about an hour and a half, but edited it all to one hour. And, yes, I literally had to do everything: subtitles, editing… You don't realize how many pieces this puzzle has until you start.

There were days when I woke up and said: I'm going to release it today! Then I realized: I need a trailer! Today I'm releasing it. But, wait, I should also make a clip for TikTok. You want to prepare as well as you can, but you also don't want to put obstacles in your own way. So now I'm almost at the point where I'm telling myself: it has to be released by the end of the month.

(laughs) It's a lot of work. Before I got the role in the series "Twenties," my best friend and I were going to make a YouTube series. We have friends she went to college with. I was there, not officially enrolled, but filming student projects and people thought I was a student, and they helped us all collaborate on this project. You know, when it comes to catering, you need to have food for everyone, you need to ensure the schedule so everyone can leave and arrive on time, you need to keep everyone's temperament under control because one person with a bad attitude can ruin everything for everyone. There are so many aspects I'm trying to learn and master. But now, I'm just trying to recover from the writers' strike. It was a tough period.