Starring Danes, Jim Parsons, The Shape of Water‘s Octavia Spencer and Priyanka Chopra—not to mention Ann Dowd, who has five films at Sundance—A Kid Like Jakefollows Alex (Danes) and Greg (Parsons), a married New York couple who struggle to navigate their role as parents of a young son who prefers Cinderella to G.I. Joe. For Howard, how Alex and Greg navigate this unforeseeable scenario defines the kind of characters and material he likes to explore.
“I’m very fond of characters saying the wrong thing and then ultimately doing the right thing, being able to look at human issues instead of messaging or explaining, and it did that,” Howard said of A Kid Like Jake, appearing at Deadline’a Sundance Studio with Parsons, Danes, Spencer, and Chopra. “It just sort of went to the core of things that come up in a relationship, out of care and concern, especially when someone that you care about is maybe at risk of being hurt or made fun of.”
“In spite of a lot of movement towards understanding differences, it’s still very difficult to have inclusiveness,” the director continued, “and this really does it in a human way.”
For Danes—herself a New York mom of a four-year-old son, “in the depths of marriage, in the best possible way,” the material in hand was “very accessible,” although it wasn’t exactly “self-referential.”
“Daniel does such a deft job of talking about these political concepts, but doing it through the voices of really layered, complex, grounded people who are in actual relationship with each other,” the actress said.
In conversation with Deadline, Chopra touched on her drives as an artist, which involved fighting for onscreen representation and playing characters that defy societal expectations. “To fight that fight for the next generation that comes in and break that concrete, I think for me that’s a huge, huge drive,” Chopra explained—”to just normalize being who I am, and what I look like.”
To hear more from Deadline’s conversation with the A Kid Like Jake cast and director Silas Howard, click above.