If writer/director/producer/actress Brit Marling’s name is tied to a project, consider my interest piqued. She is the DEAL. Marling is an incredible filmmaker, a captivating actress, model-level pretty, and very intelligent (she graduated from Georgetown with degrees in economics and studio art). Jealousy isn't healthy, but it's difficult not to be envious of her flawlessness. Her writing, acting, and directorial efforts are all worth checking out. If you haven’t watched Sound of My Voice, The East , or Another Earth, remedy that ASAP. Marling (and directors Zal Batmanglij and Mike Cahill)'s movies are intriguing, smart, and strange. So strange. But in a great way. Marling, Batmanglij, and Cahill are not afraid to push the envelope, and I'm all about it.
Marling is currently at Sundance promoting I Origins, a Cahill-directed sci-fi movie (can't wait can't wait can't wait) starring her and Michael Pitt. While attending the festival, she sat down with The Huffington Post for an interview, and what ensued only made me love her more. She’s just so cool and likable.
Early on in the interview, the interviewer struggled to read his own handwriting (story of my life), but Marling didn’t skip a beat. She took a stab at interpreting his notes: “‘Do you get a boycott?' 'Boy scout’?"
“Oh, that says ‘big budget'," the interviewer replied. Thank goodness it wasn’t “Do you get a Boy scout?” That would’ve made for a strange dialogue. Actually, I live for a strange dialogue, so I probably would've appreciated it as well (for entirely different reasons, of course).
When the interviewer remarked that Marling doesn’t seem to “pop up in a throwaway romantic comedy,” her response was honest and thoughtful. What could’ve come across as pompous or her looking down her nose managed to read as genuine: “No. I mean, if it was a great, new, fresh take on the romantic comedy that was kind of subversive and, you know, two people navigating a love story in a way you've never seen it before — I'd be totally down because I love comedy as much as I love drama. And I love the silly as much as I love the serious.” Ugh. I love the silly as much as I love the serious. Does that mean we can be friends, Marling?! Are we soul-friends-mates?!
She continued: “But it has to be good. I mean, I think that the reason I feel that way is life is really short —and I don't ever want to find myself on set being like, ‘Well, I just have to get to the end of the shoot.’” This is admirable. If she’s in a position that allows her to be selective, snaps for her. Standards are neat. She has a certain artistic vision, and that's her prerogative. And you know what? Life IS short. We should all live accordingly (well, as much as we can). “I can't work that way. I don't know how to work that way,” she went on. “I have to feel a really passionate — I have to be moved.” Artists be doing their thing. I'm feeling it.
She explained that she prefers playing roles that “are not like the ones we often see for women” and in order for her to gravitate toward a potential role, the character must "stand strong or be impervious—women can be vulnerable and weak and all these other things, too. It just—it’s not just men. It’s not, like a woman in there as an afterthought. I think we’re starting to see more of that. So I think about that when I take a role. Maybe that's weird.” NOT WEIRD. ALL OF THE YES TO PROMOTING INTERESTING, STRONG, COMPLEX FEMALE CHARACTERS.
After Marling questioned whether or not her character selection thought process is weird, she and the interviewer proceeded to have an amazing exchange. It is as follows:
I don't think that's weird. I think that's good.
Okay. Well, if you think it's good ...
Well, keep in mind, I don't know what I'm talking about.
Yes, you do!
No, I don't.
You totally gave yourself away earlier. You know exactly what you're talking about.
How did I give myself away?
Well, first of all, you're honest. Most people when they sit down are trying to put up a certain show for each other — a presentation. And you're just like, "I wrote these notes in the dark; can you read them?"
I don't think that's "honest." I think that's called "unprofessional."
That's when you won me over. That's not unprofessional ... like, I'm just fascinated to hear your point of view on things.
That's very kind of you to say.
Isn't that what we're all doing here? Otherwise, we'd be making things in a vacuum, you know? I mean, we make stories to connect.
What more could you want from a conversation than honesty and the opportunity to learn from one another? Marling more or less broke down what makes a strong convo. As quick as this part of the interview was, I find the exchange fairly insightful. Be real and listen. Don't get stuck in a vacuum.
Which reminds me: don't get stuck in a vacuum cleaner.