In Whit Stillman’s new film DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, Adam Brody (THE OC), Analeigh Tipton (CRAZY STUPID LOVE), and Hugo Becker’s (GOSSIP GIRL) characters all find themselves in a love triangle of sorts. That is until Violet (played by Greta Gerwig, GREENBERG) comes along and shakes up the group’s dynamic. While they are nothing like their characters in real life, they do share a combined respect and admiration of their director and his work they feel blessed to bring to life.
We had the pleasure of speaking with the charming trio on the press day for the film. We discussed everything from what it’s like being a part of a Whit Stillman film, to what the film’s whip-smart dialogue means to them, to what’s up next.
VeryAware: So what was it like for y’all working on Whit Stillman’s “comeback” film?
Hugo Becker: “An honor!”
Adam Brody: “Yeah. It was really exciting. We were all such big fans by the time we started filming already that it was a treat. I personally wanted to soak up as much as I could.”
Analeigh Tipton: “The exciting part was soaking up the anticipation. It’s the fact that there were so many people around who were just really, really positively anticipating this film and appreciating his work. So to be able to be put in the place to represent that and bringing that to life was amazing.”
HB: “The time I read and put myself on tape, to be honest, I had seen THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO, but I didn’t know it was a Whit Stillman movie. Then I came to realize that a lot of people were huge fans of him. And then you realize this was something important.”
What was it about his work that stood out to you?
AB: “I would say that thematically and the stuff he’s bringing up is so unique. On one hand his stuff is so funny but it’s so rich and it’s got so many ideas – so much subtext. He packs so much thought into his scripts that it’s hard for me to nail another movie, or someone who makes films like that – so overtly philosophical. I also think thematically the stuff he’s dealing with and the sides he argues for is completely unlike anything, like starting with this idea of class that he’s talking about. To me they’re not necessarily the money. It’s not synonymous – this upper bourgeois class. He’s not always advocating the rich class. It’s not about that. It’s supposed to be about etiquette and social standings and values. I just think nobody argues for that and if they do, they are the villains in every other movie. It’s interesting that he could be labeled a conservative but he’s doing it in a medium that no conservatives make indie films as an artist. The contradiction of that was interesting to me. In this movie he’s talking about advocating for depression, musicals and dancing and soap and cleanliness. I don’t find that to be wrong and they are interesting points, and wholly unlike anything I’ve seen in film.”
AT: “Technically he’s very hands on in very aspect. And he’s very involved in all parts of the film. He really lives in what the script represents in so many ways. He himself is very layered and quirky, but completely true and honest, which is relevant in all his characters. He is very much like his characters.”
Was it easy to wrap your heads around the unique kind of dialogue he writes?
HB: “It was not easy. It’s very rich. It’s very dense. It requires some work. I would say challenging – in a good way – and very interesting.”
AT: “Challenging but rewarding. Fun! I had trouble with this one word “yes.” I had a lot of trouble saying that one word simply. I don’t think there are often times where we just answer very straightforward. The other part was just a fun little adventure in acting.
AB: “I was so excited. I thought, ‘Finally! Finally just a dialogue piece!’ It’s so well written. I was so excited to say all of that. For me, it was pure joy.”
AT: “It’s poetic! You get to say a poem.”
AB: “…there’s a real rhythm to it. That I felt I could hear very intuitively.”
What was working with him like vs. your expectations of other films you’ve worked on?
AB: “The one thing that I was surprised with was, he talks about so many authors. His movies are all discussions and I thought we’d have philosophical discussions into the night. He asks a lot of questions, but is not as forthcoming about himself. I was surprised. I thought he’d want to talk about these ideas, but no. You are kinda left to your own devices to bring what you will to do. Part of that is due not just to his personality, but the time constraints we had.”
VeryAware: Did you each have a favorite line your character got to say? I liked Adam’s “Decline of Decadence” speech.
AB: “Yeah. Yeah.”
HB: “Isn’t she?’ that’s one of the ones. Another is ‘Just because some fat boy might kill himself, Seven Oaks can’t do what’s right? You can’t set policy that way!’ I don’t know why.
AB: “It’s ‘there needs to be something refined. Sublimated. No matter how much I try.’
AT: “Mine was ‘Yes!’ No I get to make fun of the British accent at one point. Got to add that in a little bit.
AB: “It’s funny. There’s so many high-minded ones, that aren’t my lines. I’ve been saying, ‘I’m not going to go around checking what color my eyes are,’ since filming.
AT: “Thor says a lot of funny things.”
Does the fact that this is a highly anticipated film from the community make it any less daunting?
AT: “Initially but now, no. After seeing it in Venice, it’s nice to see the people who appreciate it. I like to think it hit the nail. I’m more excited about it because it’s unlike anything I’ve done before.”
HB: “I think you’re right. That’s the point – to do something different each time. I don’t know about you Adam and maybe it’s the same thing. I was really happy to do something completely different from what I’ve done before. To do something provocative and very original, very clever, and a little crazy. It’s always very rewarding career-wise but also personally. It was my first time in the US shooting this film. Before that, I had done two episodes of GOSSIP GIRL in Paris.”
What can you each tell us about your upcoming projects, WARM BODIES and SEEKING A FRIEND AT END OF THE WORLD?
AB: “SEEKING A FRIEND is a lovely, lovely movie. I’m very excited for that one. That one’s great too as it’s very funny but then very emotional. I think it combines broad comedy and melodrama. I think that does the dance, or walks a tight rope, whatever you want to say, that’s very tricky and it’s got such a wonderful ensemble cast that I look at as a curtain call for humanity.”
AT: “I play Nora in WARM BODIES. She’s a very tough, kick-ass, zombie killer. I handle a machine gun. I learned how to take apart a gun, while watching TV, and put it back together. It’s pretty awesome. We did a lot of combat training. She plays the really opinionated, loud friend of Teresa Palmer’s character. It’s a really interesting film. It’s John Malkovich so you think it goes one way, but John Malkovich never goes one way.
VeryAware: Adam, asking on behalf of all the GILMORE GIRLS fans like myself, do you ever get sick of being asked, ‘Is there going to be a GILMORE GIRLS movie?’
AB: “I’ve never been asked that one in my entire life!”
VeryAware: Shut up. You are kidding!
AB: “No. I’ve been asked is there ever going to be an OC movie, but never GILMORE GIRLS. I can’t imagine I would even be a part of it even if there was. Not because I’m above it, but because my stint on that was so short lived. I don’t feel like a true part of that show even though I was on it. So, is there going to be?”
VeryAware: So would you like there to be one, or an OC movie? Either or?
AB: “Yeah. I’d like both. I think we could go to space with it. We can explore that. And GILMORE GIRLS, I don’t know what we could do with that…”
HB: “….go to Russia,.”
DAMSELS IN DISTRESS opens on April 6.