As my review probably made clear, “Win Win” is one of my very favorite films at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival. So I was really excited to talk to its co-writer/director Thomas McCarthy and stars Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, and especially Alex Shaffer, the New Jersey state wrestling champion who answered an open casting call and got the role of Kyle, a troubled teen and gifted wrestler who changes the lives of Giamatti’s Mike and Ryan’s Jackie. I haven’t seen Shaffter interviewed before and he’s quite a character. I particularly got a kick out of his pick for his favorite high school movie ever made.
With Kevin Smith threatening retirement, it looks like McCarthy could become New Jersey’s preeminent cinematician: “Win Win” is set in the director’s hometown of New Providence, New Jersey and he previously set his debut film “The Station Agent” there as well. So I asked him about that, as well as his thoughts on his cast and his inspirations. Turns out the “Bad News Bears” comparison in my review was right on the money.