Greg Kinnear Discusses Sight and Its Incredible True Story


Sight tugs on your heartstrings as a powerful journey of overcoming tremendous adversity to achieve greatness and help others. Dr. Ming Wang (Terry Chen) fled the cruelty of China’s Cultural Revolution to become a renowned eye surgeon who helps restore vision to blind children. Greg Kinnear co-stars as Dr. Misha Bartnovsky, his best friend and partner, who helps him find inner peace and incredible, life-changing medical breakthroughs.




The delightful Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine, Heaven Is for Real, As Good as It Gets) spoke with MovieWeb about shooting after COVID, telling the hopeful story of an Asian-American immigrant, and finding real perspective when faced with hardship. Please watch above or read on for our in-depth interview with Greg Kinnear.



Sight’s Medical Realism

Sight

The film is about Ming Wang, a Chinese immigrant to the United States who became a renowned eye surgeon and follows him as he helps a girl regain her sight after abuse.OVERRIDE

Release Date
May 24, 2024

Director
Andrew Hyatt

Studio
Angel Studios

Production Company
Open River Entertainment, Reserve Entertainment

Distributor(s)
Angel Studios

MovieWeb: Sight is a very powerful, emotional film. I was comparing Misha and Ming to Holmes and Watson. You’re kind of like the Watson to his Holmes, because you guys are really on a journey of discovery. Do you think that’s an accurate analogy?

Greg Kinnear: That’s a great analogy. After you do something, you’re always trying to process what it is, exactly. But it is funny you say that. I felt like there was a lot of levity without losing the groundedness of the story that they were telling. And yeah, I think Misha is a springboard and a sounding board for Ming on a very personal journey. That’s what our movie’s about.


Greg Kinnear: I felt like the script did a nice job in that friendship of not making it too easy. Misha is there to kind of help him, offer advice, try to get him out of his own way, and help him help himself in a way. Sometimes that can be done really too easily. I felt like it did a nice job of showing the difficulty of trying to help somebody who’s haunted by their past.

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MW: I spoke to Dr. Ming and Terry Chen. You guys have many scenes where you’re researching and doing surgery. You have to look like you know what you’re doing. Talk about the process of working with Ming and Misha.


Greg Kinnear: Misha was not there when we shot this movie right after COVID. It was the first thing I had done. In fact, I had spent a year plus, with everybody else, living through the wildly frustrating world of COVID lockdowns. This was the first thing I did. In fact, I had to travel across the border into Canada and quarantine in a house by myself for two weeks. It was a weird experience. I was completely isolated. When I showed up to set, it was great to see other people and create, to work with other people. And yes, Ming was there. I had a great relationship with Terry. I hadn’t met him before. I felt like I really trusted him and had a good vibe with him.

Greg Kinnear: But we are trying to sell high medicine in this movie. It took me a half hour to figure out how to Zoom with you today. So I am not the guy to easily do this. And to have a brain like Dr. Ming’s available to us for all of those scenes, and to guide us in a way where we can help sell the reality of that to an audience, was really valuable. Because if you didn’t sell it, and you didn’t get a sense that’s what was happening, then you have a really uphill battle in this movie. So we were grateful to have him available.


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China’s Brutal Cultural Revolution

MW: The film explores the Chinese Cultural Revolution and what happened to intellectuals in China. That’s something you rarely ever see. It caught me by surprise. Were you intrigued by that aspect in the script?


Greg Kinnear: I honestly didn’t know anything about the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I’ve since read about it. I was so caught off guard by just what had happened at that time and how powerful it was. How anybody could manage, especially somebody as poverty-stricken as Ming, could find his way out of that environment, and go through the things that he went through, seemed completely captivating to me. But I certainly didn’t do it because of that. I thought the fact that this was a real Asian-American immigrant story that featured so many things that I don’t know anything about, and a story of a guy whose struggle was so specific, that’s what captivated me.

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MW: The most poignant parts of Sight are when you have these children who are able to see for the first time. And then some who can’t. It’s just crushing, the disappointment and success that Misha and Ming feel. How did that play out in the script?


Greg Kinnear: It starts with a horribly disfiguring crime that takes place, and it’s gut-wrenching. It was conceptually something I couldn’t even imagine. I think that kind of peeling back the onion of his journey was really nicely told. I worked with [director] Andrew [Hyatt] a little bit on Misha, his relationship with them, and adding a little levity, and having some fun with their relationship. But, basically, all of it was kind of there and available to us as a resource. Not only a resource, but the process and just talking to him about little parts of his own life. It was a really interesting job for me.

Sight, Faith, and the Story of Dr. Ming Wang

MW: Ming’s faith is very central to his belief that he can help people. I’m always surprised at how Hollywood doesn’t take faith-based films seriously. They’ve been very successful, particularly with Angel Studios. They produced this film, and Cabrini from earlier this year. Even if you may not be a religious person, why see this film and story?


Greg Kinnear: I haven’t worked with Angel Studios before and was pleased with their involvement. And obviously, movies, any kind of movie these days, it’s really hard to get a foothold in an audience. The ideas that they build out, foundationally, for an audience that is inherently interested in the stories that they tell. I feel like faith-based films tend to be thrown into a file that just kind of encompasses everything. I feel like so many movies in this world, and in this genre, are kind of all put under the same banner. This does have, I guess, some faith involved in it.

Greg Kinnear: [Ming Wang] certainly has that, but the story is not really that. How will that affect an audience? I haven’t seen it with an audience, how it plays in terms of empowering an audience, I don’t really know. But the hope is, like with all movies, that you tell the story as honestly and truthfully as you can. I don’t think this movie tries to message anything. I think it tries to tell his journey and his own experience. People are either going to buy into that or they’re not. But there’s no question that there is a large and very real audience out there for movies that certainly aren’t afraid to tell that story. So we’ll see how they respond.


4:09

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The Best and Worst Days Filming Sight

MW: What was the best and worst day for you playing Misha on Sight?

Greg Kinnear: The worst days were the two weeks of quarantine trapped in a house by myself. You weren’t allowed to leave, and I’m a terrible cook. So I would make these God-awful meals and be like, ‘This is dinner, eat up.’ I really rely on my family for a great deal for my sanity and getting through the day-to-day. For me to have two weeks with myself, that’s a long Greg Kinnear road nobody wants to go down.


Greg Kinnear: In terms of the happiest days, honestly, I felt like the shoot was such a great group of people. This kind of immigrant story, an Asian-American story, doesn’t get told very often. The people were so warm and just had so many great stories to share. On set, it was a great vibe. And certainly, I can’t pick out one singular day. Other than my advice to other actors is, if you have to work with animals, don’t work with rabbits. That would be my big thing that I learned.

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Greg Kinnear Reteams with Dennis Lehane & Taron Egerton for Firebug

Angel Studios


MW: You’ve got a bunch of new films coming out. Can you tell us about what you’re doing next? Anything you’re particularly excited about?

Greg Kinnear: Yeah, I worked a couple of years ago with Dennis Lehane on an Apple TV show called Black Bird with Taron Egerton. We’re doing another true-crime story for them right now. We’ve been shooting up back in Vancouver. Back in the scene of the crime. No quarantine, I’m happy to say. It’s lovely. We’re just kind of making our way through that. It’s another true-crime story, but it deals in the world of arson [and is titled Firebug]. It’s excellent and very well written, of course. Dennis Lehane is a champ at that. So I’m excited about it, and look for it next year.

MW: The idea that Ming Wang, who was oppressed in China, came to America, got three degrees from Harvard and MIT, and is now this world-famous surgeon saving children’s eyes. That’s just mind-blowing. What additional themes do you want our audience to take away?


Greg Kinnear: I think perspective is a valuable thing. Feeling a little ‘woe is me’ during COVID, reading the power of this script, reading the power of what real adversity is, I hope people in this country can appreciate just what a difficult road he was on, and his own journey. Even with all of his success, you forget that everybody has their own very personal story. He’s a man who’s kind of haunted by this past. I do feel like we all have some demons or ghosts that are right on our tail from maybe a different point in our life. Overcoming that is an incredibly life-affirming thing. He’s a great testament to that.

Sight will be released theatrically on May 24th from Angel Studios. You can watch a clip from the film below:



https://movieweb.com/sight-greg-kinnear-interview/