IAR Exclusive Interview: Greta Gerwig Brings Life to 'No Strings Attached'

Monday, 24 January 2011 10:17 Written by  JimmyO
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IAR Exclusive Interview: Greta Gerwig Brings Life to 'No Strings Attached'

This past weekend, the new romcom No Strings Attached starring the ever-fashionable Natalie Portman, opened at number one in the box office. It is clear that Portman is a favorite for audiences as of late. Yet she is only part of the reason that this romantic comedy worked as well as it does.

Greta Gerwig, who recently lit up the screen in Greenberg and The House of the Devil, gives another stand-out performance in Strings. She plays Patrice, the smart aleck roommate and BFF of sorts to Portman’s Emma.

Recently, we named Gerwig as one of the hottest young actors in Hollywood. Simply put, she takes on challenging roles, and she is so incredibly charming and real, you can’t help but relate to each persona she brings to life. She is not your typical Hollywood actress; she is smart, funny and really quite unique.

iamROGUE.com had the chance to sit down and talk with this immensely talented actor. She is just as terrific as you’d expect her to be, if not more so. Read on as we talk about House of the Devil, No Strings Attached and of course, sex.

First off, I loved you in House of the Devil.

Ty [West] is an amazing director.

I agree, but I also really loved your character.

It was really fun. I just think he made [House of the Devil] look so great. It looked so precise and not caricatured at all, it looked like a film that was actually made in 1982 and someone pulled it out of a dustbin.

Absolutely! I grew up on that stuff too, so I was really happy to see something like that.

Yeah. It was really fun to watch it in the theatre too, because everyone reacted so well to it.

The thing I’ve got to tell you is that I’ve been a fan and when I first started writing about you, I would always get somebody saying how great you were, ‘Ah, I love mumblecore, Greta is so great…!’

That is so nice to know that that is true. Because I think that sometimes when you start out doing really tiny movies you think, maybe no one has seen any of these and then people do, and it is so gratifying because you feel like you’ve shared in something together. Because then you are like, ‘I’m so glad that someone heard us!’

I think that would be very true even for a smaller film like House of the Devil. With that, you are dealing with a film that is so grounded in the early Eighties and even the Seventies.

Because it’s like that cross over period between the Seventies and the Eighties, which is what he did so well. In 1982 you still had cars from the Seventies and there is like a mix of what they have. Sometimes when period pieces are done, it has to have everything from 1986.

Which is not real…

It’s inaccurate.

We all listen to music from two years ago to four years ago and so on.

Or even thirty years ago [Laughing]… but there is a lot of bleeding between time periods.

Well, just in case, we should talk about your latest film [Laughing]. What was it about the character in No Strings Attached that really interested you?

The initial thing was I love Ivan Reitman, I grew up watching Stripes and Ghostbusters. We would quote Stripes all the time in my house. So it was just part of the water. But when I got the script, Elizabeth Meriwether who wrote it, is a playwright in New York and I loved her plays. While I was in college, she was a couple years ahead of me and she was kind of this hot, young playwright, and I was watching her plays in New York. When I realized she was writing films, I was like, ‘This is Liz, this is Liz Meriwether! Oh my God!’ and then I found out Ivan was directing it… Liz is just a really funny, smart writer and I think you get to hear her voice and her timing in it and it just sounded like so much fun. And when I auditioned for Ivan, I called my brother and told him, ‘Guess who I just met? Ivan Reitman!’

And I liked the character. I liked how negative she is, I think that is really fun. She is so sure that things are going to go badly that she already has a bad attitude. I have a friend who is exactly like that and I love it [Laughing]. I think those kind of people are especially funny when they drink because it comes out more but they get aggressive towards people, and I just had a lot of fun doing it.

And more than anything it was just like this ensemble and we just got to hang out all the time. I loved Mindy Kaling, Lake Bell and Olivia Thirlby. Everyone was cool and fun and it felt like we got to play every day. Being part of an ensemble is really nice. It feels like you are playing hot potato every day, and passing it and people are picking it up. It was just a really good experience actually.

This is a bit of a unique take, which is very clear why after meeting Liz. She really is amazing.

Isn’t she?

She’s totally awesome.

She is totally awesome. And I feel like she is going to be one of the true voices of comedy.

It seems like comedy has gone so far off from being story-driven. What do you feel we are lacking when it comes to the comedic genre?

I think it is always how it’s been. I think a lot of films are – especially comedies - they are skewed and a lot of them are made by men, about male stuff. And I think that they are always trying to find what is funny about women, and sometimes and I think Sex and the City was trying to do that, but I think that it falls back on a lot of generalizations a lot of the time. And I think that Liz and Lena Dunham, who is a good friend of mine, who made Tiny Furniture is a great, genuine comedy and she is a girl. I think those two will push it in that direction. And I also think it is about having a writer/director who does comedy, because I think there is a seamlessness to Woody Allen’s stuff in the Seventies and Eighties where it was one voice propelling the whole thing. And I think that now, comedy is – and sometimes I think it works very well – made by so many hands that they don’t have the true weirdness that you can get when one person has made it. So the two things I’d like to see more of are female comedies, made by women and ones that work, and is true. And the other thing is just that kind of seamlessness of someone’s true perspective coming out. I think that the old Albert Brooks stuff is amazing.

One of my favorite movies is Lost in America.

Oh my God! Yes! Oh my God, it’s so funny… the scene where he is talking to guy asking for his money back, ‘Then everybody will want their money back.’, and he is like, ‘No, it’s going to be like, Vegas with a heart.’ But it feels like that was a voice and I think that the collaborative stuff really works, but sometimes what you are missing is this real perspective. You’re not just trying to make it funny; you are trying to make it a film. And I think that would be nice if there were more people that – I guess a comedy auteur - work in that way. I’d love to see Liz keep doing that. And I’m sure there are a bunch of people doing it that I don’t know about. That’s what I think.

Now, I’d love to hear about Arthur.

Arthur was amazing. It’s so great. It was so much fun. It comes out April 8th. Playing with Russell Brand was just tremendously fun. But it is really sweet too. I mean, the original movie is kind of strange, and this has some of the strangeness of it, but with Russell and Helen Mirren, it was kind of a dream. And we shot in New York, it was pretty awesome.

And then I did a Whit Stillman (The Last Days of Disco) movie.


Yeah. Whit directed a movie. It’s called Damsels in Distress and it should be out in the Fall of 2011. That was really cool. I’ve loved Whit’s movies. He is so iconic to me and I actually put him on a list of “dream directors” and my agent called and said, ‘You’ll never guess who is making a movie… one of the people you gave me on your list!’ [Laughing] So those two things are coming up.

What did you think of No Strings Attached?

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