Last week, right before the opening of the new film What Maisie Knew, I was invited to participate in a series of roundtable interviews with some of the talent involved in the movie. The big gets were obviously a few moments with Awards Circuit favorite Julianne Moore and the up and coming heartthrob Alexander Skarsgard, though also on hand were actresses Onata Aprile and Joanna Vanderham as well as the directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel. Obviously, having to share time with other journalists isn’t ideal, as you’re hoping to get in maybe one or two questions at max in the same time allotted for one on one chats, but you just have to make do. Below you’ll find the bit that I got to take part in, notably with Moore and Skarsgard.
First up was Julianne Moore, who was very friendly and real easy to chat with. I got to make a very tiny bit of small talk with her, but then the roundtable started and the questions began coming pretty fast and furious. Around the halfway point, I got to chime in, and this is what I said to her, along with her response:
Joey Magidson: You had said earlier that you’re material driven. You recently finished up Don Jon with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s a first time director and an actor mainly. How often does the filmmaker come into play for you when choosing a project?
Julianne Moore: You know, I work with a lot of writer-directors. That’s the one thing that’s been a through line in my career because generally a lot of first time people have written their own script. Like with Joe, what was interesting about that movie to me, is that I had heard, “Oh this is a movie about porn.” And I was on the airplane with my husband and I said, “Okay I’ll go through this really quickly.” And then scrolling through it I was like, “Oh my God this isn’t about porn. This is really touching.” It was clearly very personal, and it was something that had been written with, um, with such clarity about the subject matter that I was really struck by it. When I talked to Joe that’s what I was reacting to and I know that he would have the clarity of vision as a filmmaker because he’s the one who wrote it. There’s usually a connection when it’s a writer-director between them and the material. You’re always looking for the intensity of vision. We’re like a conduit between the material and the audience, and the director is the one that allows it to happen. Joe did a great job.
Joey: It has a great ending too, that movie…
Julianne: Right! Isn’t it? It makes you cry!
Joey: It has a lot to do with your character’s entrance into the film too.
Julianne: I know. Joe did a great job. He’s a real filmmaker and he was a real filmmaker on set. You can just tell.
The other bit that I wanted to share involved Alexander Skarsgard, who actually was paired up with the little girl Onata Aprile who played Maisie, as you can see in the picture above. She didn’t have too much to say, but he was attentive to her, very chatty with us, and was quick to shake my hand and introduce himself (I’ve been told I’m not allowed to ever wash my hand, apparently). When I got to ask him my question, here’s what the response was…
Joey Magidson: You had mentioned that this is a very different role for you and going forward now, as True Blood gets more and more popular, you have opportunities presenting themselves now. I’m curious, what are you interested in? Now, people come to you…
Alexander Skarsgard: Yea, it’s all about challenges, I think, and doing things that don’t feel repetitive. It should be, and hopefully is, a creative profession, and the creativity in it is the discovery, when you first read a script. You start thinking about the character and you want to learn more and discover who he is. If I read it and don’t feel that, then it’s just not a fun process. If I have all the answers, there’s no discovery there. That’s why reading this script after shooting True Blood for six months was great, it was something very different, and then reading Disconnect after Maisie or reading The East after Disconnect, all felt quite different and made me curious. If not, I wouldn’t take on the challenge, obviously. So, to answer your question…to keep doing that, to keep learning and growing as an actor.
Joey: You’ve done just about everything except a comedy, so maybe one of those next?
Alexander: That’s right! I’d love to do that at some point…
The rest of the choice bits of the day came when filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel told me that they never write their movies (or cast them when they just direct) with a specific actor or actress in mind, they’ve just been really lucky to attract the talent that they have so far. McGehee and Siegel also told a funny story about actress Joanna Vanderham being deathly afraid of puppets and not knowing that until they were put in front of her, something I asked Vanderham about later on. She burst out laughing and was surprised anyone else knew about that, though it was a nice moment that showed how genuine she really is. Obviously there wasn’t much that could be done with Onata Aprile, but she was adorable and showed us all the pictures she was drawing throughout the morning.
That’s the quick and dirty version of my roundtable day for ‘What Maisie Knew’, though those of you hungry for more Skarsgard talk should keep your eyes out here, as I should be chatting with him again in regard to The East in the next few weeks. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this one…
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!