Sundance photos: Story attracts stars to ‘Low Down’
Published: January 20, 2014 11:57AM
Updated: January 21, 2014 07:53PM
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A scene from "Low Down." Courtesy Sundance Institute

Here’s a screen pairing you wouldn’t expect: Glenn Close and Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But here they were onstage at the Eccles Theatre, standing side by side along with Elle Fanning and the makers of “Low Down,” which had its premiere Sunday at 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

What brought them together was the harrowing true story of Amy-Jo Albany, who wrote the memoir of life growing up with her father, Joe Albany, an acclaimed jazz pianist who battled heroin addiction and incarceration.

Fanning portrays Amy-Jo at ages 13 and 15, opposite John Hawkes as Joe Albany. Close plays Amy-Jo’s grandmother, and Flea plays a fellow musician also struggling with addiction.

At the Q-and-A after the screening, Fanning, Flea and Close all talked about what drew them to the project: Amy-Jo Albany’s story.

Close had a lunch meeting with Albany (who co-wrote the script with Topher Lilian) and the film’s director, Jeff Preiss. Then she read Albany’s memoir and was moved by “the authenticity of what she wrote.”

(By the way, during the film, Close sat next to her longtime friend Robert Redford. Close has been involved with Redford’s Sundance Institute, and of course they both starred in “The Natural.”)

“I’d never played a real person before,” Fanning said, noting the pressure of having that person on set every day. “We became really good friends. … I could ask her anything, any detail.”

Flea, best known as the bass player for Red Hot Chili Peppers, comes from a family of musicians, so he understood the characters. “The jazz musicians of [the 1970s] were in a very unusual circumstance,” said Flea, who is also one of the film’s executive producers. “They had this incredible skill and no one gave a s---.”

Sundance premiere

“Low Down,” directed by Jeff Preiss about the torrid, true life of jazz pianist Joe Albany, made its premiere Sunday, Jan. 19, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. The cast includes John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Flea; part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition program.