INTERVIEW: Jena Malone talks ‘Time Out of Mind’

jena-maloneFor almost as long as I’ve been a fan of film, I’ve been a fan of Jena Malone. An actress who rarely gets the credit that she deserves, Malone is almost always a supporting player highlight in whatever she’s in. This week’s Time Out of Mind is no exception, as she and Richard Gere do some of their best work to date in Oren Moverman‘s film. My review of it can be found here, and earlier this week I got to chat with Malone a bit about her process and acting in this movie. You can see the best bits below, and be sure not to miss Time Out of Mind, which starts its theatrical run this weekend. Enjoy!

Here now are the highlights of my interview with Malone:

On how smaller independent films have to work harder to be seen but a longer time in order to do it

Jena Malone – A film’s shelf life is sort of eternal, so it doesn’t matter if no one saw it when it came out, you know? I love that films can be discovered throughout time, at any time. Like the films that I was affected by when I was younger. That’s what excites me about Time Out of Mind, because it is such a small release, but is I think one of the most important films that I’ve ever done.

Talking about how she came to be a part of Time Out of Mind

JM – Well, I just love Oren (Moverman), I love his voice and I think he’s such a visionary. I just want to work with good directors, so when he called me up I said yes, before I even read the script, actually. I love collaborating with him that much. I love what he pulls, he always finds the most intimate and quiet things about me. Then I read it and I was like “oh, okay, this is going to be intense”. I didn’t meet Richard (Gere) the whole time. The first time that we met was on film, which was kind of wild. Then we just got to make a beautiful film together. It’s a gorgeous thing.

What attracted her to the role

JM – You don’t get to play estranged family members that often. It’s a very different piece, and also for me, and also for every human on the planet, you just realize that there’s so many people that you pass on the street and you assume they all have the same story. It’s a judgment, and it becomes a black hole where you stop seeing them. What this film really made me do is, I mean, it’s going to go out and change the world in a sense, but it could eliminate that black hole. We can see them again as people and as fathers, as builders, as musicians, as lovers. It’s important to remember. It’s an important thing to remember.

It breaks you in all of the right places. As much as it mends, you know? I mean, this film just shatters me. I’ve seen it three times and at the end I’m always sobbing. It’s crazy.

On what she looks for when deciding on a part

JM – Well, when I was younger it was very character driven. It was all about the script and I would fall in love with scripts like candy and just be obsessed with them. That would be all I could see, but now that I’ve gotten older all I want to do is just work with good filmmakers. I think that at the point I’m at now, all I want is just to collaborate with people that I respect, look up to, and know have a vision. That’s kind of where I’m at, where the script is almost less important to me.

Talking a bit about what Oren Moverman is like

JM – This is just the kind of film that Oren makes. He makes just human stories and tells them. He doesn’t know how to do anything else and that’s the gift of his vision, you know? I think, I mean, I’m excited to see what he does next!

If she’d ever write and direct a feature

JM – Um, I’ve directed before. I did a short, a little music video, and with the music that I do, it’s pretty much where you become the director. The album, the music video, you need a vision and to build aesthetic narratives. But no, I’m not interested in jumping in on film and just accepting an offer. I want to become a better writer. I’ve been writing a lot and that’s really what matters most to me. The filmmakers I respect the most are the ones that are writers and directors. Yeah, I’m not jonesing for it. I think that it’s something I would like to do, but I want to become a better writer before I step behind it again.

On the challenges of usually being a supporting actress with limited scenes and time on set

JM – Oh, that’s easier though. That’s easier, for an actor to come in and do something interesting, because less is expected and also less is being carried on their shoulders, so you can actually have more room to build surprises, change narratives, work against the general flow of the film, or for it. You don’t have to speak for the entire film, you can just speak for that character. A lot of times, when you have the entire film on your shoulders, you have to speak for the film, you know? That’s a responsibility that you kind of make sacrifices for. So, I’d say this is easier, actually! (Laughs) I’ve kind of taken the easier route.

What she has coming up next

JM – Well, there’s a film coming out this year at Sundance called Lovesong, which is a So Yong Kim film. She’s and incredible director. And there’s two films that have been floating around, at film festivals. One is called Angelica and one is called Bottom of the World. Then one that I’m really excited about is The Neon Demon, which is Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film. I guess it comes out and should be seen sometime next year. It’s also the end of The Hunger Games in November, so it’s going to be a wild year!

There you have the best bits of my chat with Malone. It was interesting to hear her specifically not mention her rumored role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, though I suppose that just comes with the territory of being in something as secretive as that sort of a project can be. As a reminder, Time Out of Mind is in theaters starting on September 11th. It’s a special little flick, so be sure to give it a shot. You’ll be glad you did…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!