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I had a question for you about writing. You wrote, initially. Do you still? What are you working on?
I shot a movie that I wrote.
Oh, you did? I hadn’t heard about that, can you tell me about it?
It’s a secret. It should be at festivals this fall or next winter, but it’s done, it’s shot, so… Still writing! It’s sort of deliberately been under the radar because it’s hard to surprise people and everyone has expectations about it.
You were doing dramatic writing in college, right?
I was doing playwriting in college. And I love the theater, so I did a lot that when I was in college, and I kept doing it after college but I got pulled into this world. I think in some ways—I mean I do love film, but I think if I had been pulled into the world of theatre, that had as many opportunities, I would have hung on—
Writing or acting, or both?
Both. It was more of a response to when you’re just out of college, it’s like a desert. It’s like, you’ve gone from—there’s a rich culture, so many opportunities, people are responding to everything you do and interested and willing to enter you and give you small amounts of funding to work on stuff, giving you awards every two seconds. And out of college, there’s nothing, you have no structure—and I’m so grateful to Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujalski and the Duplasses that that they were making all this work and that I could just dive into what they were doing. So much of the battle was about forward momentum, and all you want to do is be given a canvas. I love films and I love what we did but I also think in some ways it was happenstance.
This makes another good segue, because the film that we’re promoting, you and I, Damsels in Distress, which I love, and which we’ll get to—
Yay! I love it so much.
Well, let’s talk about that. We’ll go back to college. It’s just so virtuous and credulous and you’re playing somebody’s who’s discovering all these belief systems and internal logics for the first time. I think it’s just such an openhearted movie about… I guess, generousness of spirit.
She’s the most sincere liar, too. She’s a terrible liar, but she completely means it the whole time. It’s such an odd character, such an odd group of characters—and movie. Watching it, the first time I watched it was in Venice at the film festival, and the strangeness was heightened by the fact that it was mostly an Italian audience, the jokes don’t totally work for them or they would work a little later because of the subtitles, but when I was making it I really believed in Whit’s world. It all started sounding really rational. When I originally read the script, it seemed that it was heightened and satire and I started making it—
He means everything, I think.
He means everything. It’s totally sincere on his part. He’s not making fun of these people and he’s not making fun of their ideas, or what they’re going through, and, I don’t know, there’s this quality he has in his filmmaking that it’s hard to put my finger on that I really really like. It happens in Last Days of Disco and in Metropolitan I think the most. But there’s something that happens towards the end of the movie in his movies, people are often just sort of… forgiven.
A Brief History of Greta Gerwig, in Pictures