My favorite film of 2014 so far, The Pretty One is the sort of top notch indie film that needs all the attention that it can get. It just opened this past weekend, and a few days ago I was lucky enough to get on the phone and interview one of my favorite actresses in Zoe Kazan as well as this movie’s talented filmmaker Jenée Lamarque. You can of course see my incredibly positive review right here, but below you’ll find my chats with Kazan and LaMarque, both of whom were lovely to speak with. I’d met Kazan before, but this was my first sustained conversation with her, while LaMarque and I are Social Media friends. Anyway, enough talk, here are the interviews, and I hope you enjoy them!
First up is my interview with Zoe Kazan…
Zoe Kazan: Hi Joey!
Joey Magidson: Hi there!
ZK: How are you?
JM: I’m doing well, what about you?
ZK: I’m okay, though I’m a little sick so I sound like a different person. It’s me though, I swear to god!
JM: No worries, I’m getting over a cold too…
ZK: Everyone’s been sick!
JM: Everyone but my dog seems to be sick. He’s actually waiting outside my door patiently so he can bother me after we get off the phone.
ZK: Aw, what kind of dog do you have?
JM: He’s half black lab and half border collie.
ZK: That’s adorable!
JM: He’s awesome and nuts at the same time.
ZK: I understand that completely.
JM: I actually saw you last year at the Ruby Sparks press day…my second favorite movie of last year too.
ZK: What was your favorite?
JM: It was Argo, so I got lucky when it won Best Picture, since my favorites never win.
ZK: You did get lucky, and I take that as a huge compliment. Thank you so much!
JM: My pleasure. I actually might have seen you years back too for the opening weekend of The Exploding Girl.
ZK: Did you?
JM: I thought I saw someone who looked like you leaving, so it could have been…
ZK: I can’t remember if I went to that or not, but I’m so glad that you saw it, I was so proud of that movie.
JM: That was one of the first times I really took notice of you as actress, since that performance just blew me away.
ZK: Aw, that’s so nice.
JM: That was one of the first times I really beat the drum for people to see a little movie.
ZK: I really appreciate that. That movie needed so much help, so I’m glad to hear it and I’m sure you helped.
JM: From there on, I basically just saw everything you were in, so suffice to say I’m a big admirer of your work.
JM: I especially loved your work here with this one, and I’m curious, what was it like getting the script? It’s not everyday that you get to play twins, unless your Nicolas Cage or Arnold Schwarzenegger…
ZK: (Laughing) Yes! That’s true, you really don’t. I really leapt at the chance. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s sort of the ultimate challenge. I didn’t know how we were going to be able to do it, and I read a lot of scripts where I do know. Those scripts don’t excite me, since where is the fun going to be? With this, I thought it was unlike anything I had read. I was really curious about how it would translate to the screen due to the tone, and also what Jenée as a first time filmmaker was capable of. Then, I went in and auditioned for it, and even in the audition room she more than proved herself. We felt so in synch, and that’s rare in the audition room. She really understands acting and had such a strong sense of what she wanted with this film.
JM: I’m certainly glad that you gave her a chance!
ZK: Thank you. I had a strong feeling right away about the role once I read it.
JM: You and Jenée definitely did great work together, especially in immediately making you look at your performance as two separate ones. Not trying to figure out where the tricks are, but just watching you in action.
ZK: That’s such a nice compliment, thank you so much!
JM: Again, it’s my pleasure. This was such a nice movie too to see back at Tribeca, since it’s a real change of pace for a festival flick.
ZK: I completely agree. You know, it’s hard when you’re a real movie lover to have your business be the movies too. In some ways, it adds to the pleasure, but in some ways it takes away from it too. There are times for me when I just can’t read another script, and I used to love reading scripts! It’s too bad for us in a way, since we’ve professionalized the thing that we love. In some ways we’re incredibly lucky, but in others it’s taken away from going to the movies in a more pure way. Your brain always turns on.
JM: Oh definitely, I rarely get to just sit there and watch a movie without thinking about it, especially when it’s Oscar season. Once in a while though, I’ll make it a point to go see a bad movie, just because.
ZK: Oh I love that! When we were on our Ruby Sparks tour, we went and saw Take This Waltz and Ted. It was the greatest day of my life, just getting to zone out all day and watch movies. I get it, I really get it.
JM: It’s fun to every so often just go watch a movie that you know isn’t necessarily amazing, but you have a good time with.
ZK: Yeah, like Cool Runnings.
JM: Exactly, or The Mighty Ducks was just on TV.
ZK: There you go!
JM: Or Little Giants. All those kids sports movies are terrible but awesome at the same time.
ZK: We just watched Heavyweights. It was on and we didn’t know what to watch, so that did the trick.
JM: Oh yeah. We all have those. In fact, since I have a copy that got sent to me by the folks handling the film, I’m actually going to re-watch The Pretty One again soon, since to me it’s such a crowd pleaser.
ZK: It is, and I really hope people go see it. It makes me so sad when people talk about only watching movies at home, though on the other hand it’s so good for smaller movies in smaller towns.
JM: Especially in the last year or two, VOD doesn’t have a stigma. Basically since Margin Call…
JM: There’s this good democratization of the movies these days, though I certainly still prefer the movie theater…
ZK: Exactly. I think it’s good too, though I wonder what’s going to happen to the movie theater, and to me that’s the primal thing, that’s my church, so the idea of that going away or becoming as expensive as a rock concert is something that scares me.
JM: Last I looked, it was over $20 to see an IMAX 3D movie in Manhattan.
ZK: Yeah, I just don’t do that.
JM: It’s worth it on occasion, but I can’t complain, especially when I’m not paying. Before we have to wrap up, I’m curious…what’s next?
ZK: Well, I did this movie The F Word that’ll come out later this year. It’s got Daniel Radcliffe of Kill Your Darlings fame. I know a lot of people know him from his work as a child, but he’s so good and so funny here. And later this year I’m doing an HBO Mini Series called Olive Kitteridge with my absolute acting heroes Richard Jenkins and Frances McDormand.
JM: Awesome. I’ve actually never seen a Harry Potter movie, but I did like him in Kill Your Darlings.
ZK: I think he’d actually really like to hear that you only know him from his adult work.
JM: Cool. Well, I’m so glad you’re in this movie, since I like when I can try and predict you for awards…
ZK: That’s so nice!
JM: The Pretty One is my #1 of the year so far…
JM: I’m looking forward to the next movie of yours, and I hope you right another one too.
ZK: I’m going to, I am. I am now.
JM: Excellent, big Ruby Sparks fan here.
ZK: Thank you, that’s so nice. Thank you so much.
JM: I won’t keep you any longer, but this was a lot of fun and a real pleasure!
ZK: Thank you! Go get your dog now! Take him on a walk!
And now here’s Jenée Lamarque…
Jenée Lamarque: Hi Joey!
Joey Magidson: Hi there! Can you hear me okay?
JL: I can, you sound good.
JM: Awesome. First of all, happy belated birthday!
JL: Thank you!
JM: I saw the movie at Tribeca last year and I liked it a lot. I knew I was going to like it since I’m a big Zoe Kazan fan, but I was still majorly impressed by this one.
JL: I love her too, she’s amazing.
JM: Did you have anyone in mind for the roles when you were writing the movie?
JL: I didn’t have anyone in mind, so casting was a process. It was six months of meeting with people, it was sort of a tall order to find the right person. Getting the tone right, someone who understood what the sense of humor of the film was. When Zoe came in, I was just laughing hysterically, so I knew immediately that she was who we needed to get in the film at all costs. I just knew, that was our girl.
JM: It’s definitely a dramatic film, but there’s comedy in so many places, especially because of her. With a movie like this, you might be looking for the tricks, but her work and your work makes you just focus in on the movie, not the tricks.
JL: For me, I see all the work that went into it,so it’s a lot harder to suspend disbelief, but it’s so great to hear when someone like you can!
JM: That first half hour or so has to be rough for you, knowing all of the behind the scenes stuff that went into it…
JL: Well, yeah. I know how we put it all together, but the real hero is our visual effects supervisor who put it all together. Him and Zoe, they’re the ones who had the hardest jobs.
JM: I can imagine.
JL: It took three times as long to shoot and she had to deal with a lot of technical challenges as an actor. She made it look easy though.
JM: Backing up a little bit…how did you get the idea for this movie?
JL: The sort of genesis of the project is a bit complex, but a lot of it had to do with my best friend dying right when I graduated from college. He had Cystic fibrosis, so he was sort of dying the whole time I knew him, but he was also the funniest guy I ever met. Such a perverse sense of humor, even in the bleakest moments, and I sort of share that sense of humor. Through my early 20’s I sort of came of age during this tough time, with all of this to process. The story here sort of parallels the journey I took and the journeys that I saw in other people in my life. I thought that this movie hadn’t been made before, dealing with the loss of an identical twin, but to me, I thought to tell the story, it needed to be a comedy too.
JM: Definitely, and I think that it was a wise decision too.
JL: Thank you!
JM: This is just a nice time, and you don’t get this very often.
JL: No, you don’t.
JM: Especially with twins, it’s got a very unique place in the world.
JL: That’s good, thank you!
JM: So what do you have coming up next?
JL: Well, I had a baby in August, so I’ve been working on that project, the baby project. So now I’m just now going back to work, starting to write my next project, so I’m getting back on that horse. It’s very early stages right now, so I don’t have much to tell you right now.
JM: I’m sure the baby is a crowd pleasing project too!
JL: She is! She’s really something else.
JM: Again, I had a good time with this. I loved the movie, so congrats there. It’s my #1 of the year right now.
JL: Aw, thank you so much, that’s so awesome!
JM: You earned it, and it’s my pleasure. I hope it finds an audience.
JL: Thank you, we really appreciate everything you’ve done for it. It’s so important that people like you support the films that they like.
JM: My pleasure once again! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
JL: Thank you Joey!
There you have my interviews with the star and director of The Pretty One. Be sure to check this film out…it’s something special.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!