Opening in theaters on June 14th is the tragicomedy ‘Treasure’, which is based on the novel ‘Too Many Men’ by author Lily Brett and was co-written and directed by Julia von Heinz (‘And Tomorrow the Entire World’).

The film stars Lena Dunham (‘Girls’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’), Stephen Fry (‘Gosford Park’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’), and Zbigniew Zamachowski (‘Proof of Life’).

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Lena Dunham in 'Treasure'.

(Center) Lena Dunham in 'Treasure'. Credit: Bleecker Street and FilmNation.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Lena Dunham about her work on ‘Treasure’, her first reaction to the screenplay, working with Stephen Fry, the relationship between their characters, collaborating on set with director Julia von Heinz and the emotional challenges of filming scenes at Auschwitz.

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interviews with Dunham, Stephen Fry and director Julia von Heinz.

Lena Dunham Talks 'Treasure'.

Lena Dunham Talks 'Treasure'.

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about your first reaction to this screenplay, how it affected you emotionally, and what you wanted to explore with this movie?

Lena Dunham: It's a great question. I think my first response to the screenplay was that I felt insanely lucky that it was being sent to me. I think anytime that you're an actor in Hollywood who doesn't necessarily fit the norm in all kinds of ways, especially in my experience, I've often had to write interesting roles for myself. So, it's so rare for me to be handed a script that isn't the sassy best friend, or the crazy coworker, or a woman who wants to eat all the buffet. I was just so amazed. I loved Julia's previous film, ‘And Tomorrow the Entire World’, and I was so touched that she felt that I was someone who could capture this role that's so dear to her. Growing up with Eastern European Jewish grandparents, it felt to me, like maybe their dream wasn't necessarily seeing me naked on ‘Girls’, but their dream would've been to see me explore something like this. I think that was my first response. Also, because my family on my mother's side is originally Polish from Łódź, which is one of the places where we shot, I simply wanted to go on the ride. The ride was so incredibly close to the one that my character was taking of going back and learning about a place that was her home in so many ways but was also not her home at all. So, the experience of making the movie fulfilled all the promise of the screenplay and more.

Lena Dunham and Stephen Fry in 'Treasure'.

(L to R) Lena Dunham and Stephen Fry in 'Treasure'. Credit: Bleecker Street and FilmNation.

MF: Can you talk specifically about Ruth and Edek's relationship, their journey together on this trip, and what she hopes to gain from it?

LD: Well, I think what I loved about the script was that it was so subtle in the way that it talked about incredibly serious issues. Edek is a Holocaust survivor, and he is someone who, like many people who have been victims of generational violence and like many immigrants, it's something he's really tried to protect his child from, but her experience has been one of him withholding from her. So, it's all about that subtle push-pull, which is at times comic and at times tragic, of her wanting so deeply to understand where he comes from and him wanting so deeply to protect her from the things that he's experienced. I loved that Julia was able to capture that with a level of comedy, but also the deep seriousness that it required. I'm such an admirer of Stephen's and I honestly feel like he does such a heavy emotional lift in this movie, that my job was just to be there, watch him, learn from him, and be the best scene partner to him I could so that he could do the beautiful work that he does. I do think he's had so many career-defining performances. Watching him play Oscar Wilde (in ‘Wilde’) was an important performance for me growing up. I feel like this is up there with his iconic roles and he's doing a different kind of character than we've seen him do before. I mean, he quite literally learned Polish for this film. He was, by the end of the trip, speaking in such fluent Polish that people thought that I was the only non-native on the set. He is a remarkable mind. He's a remarkable actor, and my job was just to be there and try to hold up my side of the bargain. I mean, my mom wrote him an email the other day and she said, "I think that should the need arise, you're a really good replacement father for Lena."

Stephen Fry and Lena Dunham in 'Treasure'.

(L to R) Stephen Fry and Lena Dunham in 'Treasure'. Credit: Bleecker Street and FilmNation.

MF: Finally, can you talk about the emotional experience of filming scenes at Auschwitz? What was that like for you both personally and professionally?

LD: I had been to Poland before, but I had gone to visit friends who were abroad in college. We were young and not necessarily looking to examine the history of the culture, more looking to examine the vodka of the culture. So, this was my first time at Auschwitz. I had done a lot of reading to prepare, but I don't think any reading can truly prepare you for the experience of being there and the complexity of being there. I was lucky in that our crew had a beautiful dialogue, everyone from Julia to Stephen to Zbigniew, who is an incredible Polish actor who plays Stefan, our taxi driver. We were in a beautiful, open dialogue with each other about the experience and we learned things about each other. Zbigniew's grandfather had been interned at Auschwitz, not as a Jew, but as a kind of radical who was interned because of his anti-fascist beliefs, and he had never been before. So being there was profound for all of us in different ways, and we were able to support each other through that experience because while there was a lot of emotion, we also had to get through the day-to-day work of making a movie. It was a huge honor to shoot there. They take very seriously who they let in. I think the whole crew felt the weight of wanting to honor the fact that we were being allowed to use the space in that way. I have never seen a film crew be quieter, be more respectful, or be more thoughtful. We all know film crews can be sort of rowdy, quick and fast-paced, and I was amazed by how everybody just honored the location and stayed in dialogue with each other. Everyone was in dialogue with each other about what it was bringing up for them, and that was an unusual and very valuable filmmaking experience. Julia was very insistent in a very loving way about having quiet, especially for Stephen, so that he could take that in because my character's a tourist. She's going as someone who wants to understand, and his character is going back to the site of such immense trauma, that Julia was very careful about making sure that the environment was conducive to Stephen being able to play that. I remember at one point she said to me, "I know you and Stephen love to talk, but don't talk to him right now. Really step back," and it hurt to do that because my instinct, loving him as his scene partner, loving him as his daughter in the scenes, is to want to go up and hug him and comfort him. But I understood that to be able to do what he was doing, which was a performance that was important to him because of his family history, he needed that quiet and he needed that space, and everybody was so respectful in giving it to him. It is an experience, as painful as it is to see, it is something that I would recommend to any person, not just a Jewish person, because I think that they have done a really amazing job of creating an educational atmosphere that is helpful to anyone who just really wants to understand history, the conditions that create fascism, and think about anti-fascism. It's a really important place to go and to see.


"It wouldn't be a family trip without a few breakdowns"
R1 hr 51 minJun 14th, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

What is the plot of ‘Treasure’?

Poland, 1990 – American music journalist Ruth (Lena Dunham) takes her father Edek (Stephen Fry), a Holocaust survivor, on a journey to his childhood haunts, hoping to make sense of her family's troubled past. When Edek, reluctant to face his trauma, undermines their trip with his unpredictable and more eccentric than usual demeanor, Ruth is forced to challenge him and the values with which he raised her.

Who is in the cast of ‘Treasure’?

Stephen Fry and Lena Dunham in 'Treasure'.

(L to R) Stephen Fry and Lena Dunham in 'Treasure'. Credit: Bleecker Street and FilmNation.

Other Lena Dunham Movies and TV Shows:

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