Dern & Forte Chat after 'Nebraska'

Will Forte and the audience applauded Bruce Dern's performance in "Nebraska" on Sunday. Jennifer Landes

On Sunday, Bruce Dern and Will Forte, the stars of Alexander Payne's new film "Nebraska," offered an early appetizer to a later Conversation series discussion after the 12:30 p.m. screening of the film at Guild Hall.

Alexander Payne, the movie's director, shot the film in black and white and Mr. Dern said that was because of the bleak terrain and hard life most people lead there. "People don't leave, but they have a stoicism and honesty about them. If you start them they know it."

Mr. Dern praised Mr. Payne's direction. "Nebraska" had a crew on the film of some 80 people, over half of which had worked with him since his first film. Given the trust he had in his people, Mr. Dern recalled him saying in regard to his acting, "let us do our jobs. Don't show us anything; let us find it."

The film is likely to be transformative for both Mr. Dern, who had high profile work in the 1970s in memorable roles as high-strung villians and psychopaths but has rarely led a cast and has not been seen in any major films in some years. While Mr. Forte has great name recognition and fame from his stints on Saturday Night Live and "Magruber," the skit and the film that resulted from it. For him, this could be his Greg Kinnear moment, where he breaks free of the expectations of his previous television work and is considered a serious actor.

Mr. Dern and Mr. Forte play father and son. They live in Montana and decide to take a road trip to Nebraska, so Mr. Dern can cash in on some prize money.  Mr. Dern's character Woody is from Nebraska and it is the sidetrip they take back to the hometown that becomes the crux of the movie. The film will open in limited release on Nov. 22.

Will Forte, Bruce Dern, and Stacy Keach in a still from "Nebraska." Bob Odenkirk and June Squibb also star in the film.Paramount