Interview: Greta Gerwig Talks About Acting, Writing And Making Her Latest Movie, “Mistress America”

"Mistress America"

MISTRESS AMERICA | In select theaters August 28th | Director: Noah Baumbach | Stars: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Michael Chernus, Charlie Gillette, Cindy Cheung, Rebecca Henderson and Heather Lind.

A lonely college freshman’s life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister.

Greta Gerwig was in town recently to promote her upcoming movie “Mistress America,” in which she stars and co-wrote with her boyfriend and the film’s director, Noah Baumbach. I had the opportunity to talk with her about the movie and about her profession not just as an actress and writer but also a producer and director and which job was the most fulfilling for her.

James Land: How does your personal relationship with Noah (Baumbach, the director) affect your relationship on the set?

Greta Gerwig: Well, the making of the movie is so fun and I love it. I like waking up and instantly just start talking about what we’re writing about or what we’re doing, even before coffee and I like being completely absorbed by something and it’s really fun when we’re doing it together. On set, it’s the same way, he’s an amazing director and I just trust him and I know he’ll get the best performances out of everyone. The only time it’s hard is actually when we’re working on different projects because then we both want to only talk about our projects, all day every day, and that’s when we get mad (laughs).

JL: How does it affect your relationship with other actors on the set?

GG: Because we spend so much time on the script before and in post production, I’m very involved with the editing and the music and what it becomes, but when I’m actually on set I’m really an actor and it’s not like I’m any different from any of the other actors and I don’t feel like writing it, necessarily gives me, a secret guide to how to do it, I don’t know how to do it, even though I wrote it I struggle the same way even if I hadn’t so I think that camaraderie between actors is really important because you’re the ones that are, up on screen so I would say I’m another actor on set.

JL: You’ve written, you’ve directed and you’ve acted. Which one do you think is the most fulfilling?

GG: I think, for me, writing and creating and directing and hopefully more directing my own work is the most fulfilling to me. I love acting and I will always keep acting but I think it’s always helpful to know what your true North is, and what you drop everything for because if you don’t know that, then you’re kind of, then you feel more the wind of the world and for me it’s not that I wouldn’t act in many different kinds of movies but if I have a movie I’ve written it’s going that I’m either going to produce and direct, that would be the thing that is first in line and then everything comes after that.

JL: Do you think we’ll ever see you expand into any other genres such as an action movie or anything like that?

GG: I don’t know (laughs). I mean I love all different kinds of movies so it’s possible. I would say, I don’t love car chases, I think they’re boring, I always kind of zone out during a car chase so probably we’ll never make a movie with a car chase but yeah, I’d like to try a lot of different genres and sways (sic) of storytelling but I think probably, the kinds of movies I’ll make, will generally fall into the category of talkies, that’s what I make.

JL: I kept thinking “Gilmore Girls meets Seinfeld.”

GG: I love it!

JL: One question I wanted to ask you. Tracy is so wonderful and so brilliant but during one scene, you have her falling asleep during a reading of “Antigone.” I taught high school for 16 years so, what’s up with that?

GG: (laughs) I will say, as a person who fell asleep a couple of times in classes, I think in college at first, it’s the first time in your life that you don’t have your parents saying “Go to bed, what’s wrong with you, don’t stay up all night” so I remember the first few weeks in college where I was staying up till four in the morning for no reason, just because I could and then I would be so tired in class and I always thought it would be funny because there was one girl, in one of my classes who just was always asleep, and we were like, “There’s eight people around the table, you can’t hide, this is not like we’re in a lecture hall, you’re full asleep and we are all looking at you.” And I was like “That takes some balls!”

“Mistress America” is in select theaters including the Angelika Film Center in Plano August 28th


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