More dope on "The Wackness:" Interviews Part 2
So you toss
the word “misogynist” around the hip young director and his ingenue star and
everyone gets bent out of shape. I mean, of the three women in “The Wackness,”
one (Stephanie played by Olivia Thirlby) is a cold-hearted, selfish and
hedonistic bitch, her mother, played by Famke Jannsen, is a cold-hearted,
joyless shrew, a chick named unity played by Mart-Kate Olsen is a drug addled
Park Avenue ditz and the hero’s mother is a nag. Not that these are necessarily
bad things; I liked the movie. But let’s see if the director Jonathan Levine
and Thirlby can talk their way out of this one.
that’s me personally. Perhaps that’s something that subconsciously wells up in
the movie, but I think that in many ways I try to be as fair as possible and I
think that’s the great thing about having Olivia in the film, having Famke in
the film, and Mary-Kate, that perhaps on the page these characters are less
sympathetic, but these guys are so wonderful that they can sort of fill that
out in a beautiful way. And I don’t know if it’s misogyny or not. I wish I
could tell you. I wish that I could analyze it in that way, but I think that
for me the female characters in the film, the men are all kind of at the mercy
of these female characters in a way and that’s often how I feel with women. My
problem is that they hold a great deal of sway over me and perhaps there is
kind of a reactionary response to that that converts itself into some sort of
animosity, but I would like to hope that deep down the movie is really about people
and really cares about all the people in the film. I don’t know. Now I feel
like maybe I’m a dick.
You’re not. You’re not a dick. If I may, I have to comment on this. I’m really
sensitive to things that I think are misogynistic because I think that it comes
out by accident a lot and I don’t think this film is [misogynistic] whatsoever
even though the two main characters are male and thus given to discussing women
and sex in a very frank and male way. I think that the females in the film… I
don’t think that it’s misogynistic to depict a female who can use her feminine
wiles and is confident and is sexual. I think the other way around. I think
that at least between Luke and Stephanie, Stephanie wears the pants. Luke is
like a little bitch. He doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that this is his
first tiem and for Stephanie it’s just
PK: He’s the
blushing virgin and your character plays the sexually confident one. A role reversal [folding his
position like a cheap suitcase]
OT: I think
that if it’s done right the femme fatale character can be the ultimate feminist
character and not given to those kind of I don’t think that Stephanie is a
character that is a male fantasy.
JL: No. I
think she’s a real person and that’s what’s sort of so great about. I think
that the shifting power dynamic is something that’s very interesting to look
at. And the great thing is that, Olivia, with what you did especially, you can
always see the inner life flipping behind this characters eyes and you can
always see the motivation even when the characters are not necessarily acting
sympathetically and I think that the male characters do that too. You always, I
think any sort of misogyny in the film would come as an active defense
mechanism. It’s like a fall back thing, that’s what these guys are clinging to
and it’s because they are so under the sway of the women in their lives and
they can’t find any degree of control over it so they have to cling to their
misogyny and I hope that’s more of the characters of the film and less of a
[increasingly sycophantic] It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of the adolescent
OT: I think
so. The male mind which is kind of adolescent regardless of what age. I mean
the truth is that boys will be boys and there’s a distinction between guy talk,
which is frank and you could interpret it as offensive, but who’s gonna do
that. There’s a difference between that and actually chauvinism I think.
PK: Which is
where the soundtrack gives cues. I’m
talking about Donovan of course.
was a real woman hater. You can tell. All his rhymes are about bitches and hos.
mentioned this in another interview how the focus of the movie sort of switches
from Luke character to Dr. Squires [the Ben Kingsley character], did that occur
in the course of the shooting?
JL: No, it
was originally in the script. It was this POV shift about half way through and
then it shifts from focusing on the relationship between the sort of buddy
movie of it to the kind of blossoming romance as well, but it does, it shifts
to Kingsley. It always shifted to Kingsley in the script around page 40, page
PK: It also
seemed to me, he’s sort of a 60s leftover and the movie sort of reminded me of
some of the films that came out in the 60s about you young men being initiated
like “The Graduate,” obviously, or… did
you ever see “If…”?
JL: I never
PK: It’s a
good one. Were you influenced by those?
Graduate” certainly was one of the seminal films that I saw that made me want
to be a filmmaker. I think that we watched that a lot. We watched a lot of,
myself and the producers and my DP, watched a lot of kind of May-September
buddy movies, whether it be “Wonder Boys” or “Harold and Maude,” stuff like
that, and we also watched a lot of Cameron Crowe type stuff, whether it be “Almost
Famous” or “Say Anything,” all that stuff kind of combined to a hodge podge of
influences, but for me the stuff that influeced me most growing up is like
early 90s independent film whether it’s Todd Haynes or Spike Lee all that stuff
is really, that informs more the attitude
PK: There’s a
lot of Spike Lee in your movie
definitely. The kind of in your face provocation. The kind of willful roughness
in a way.
PK: When you
graduated from high school was it as memorable a year for you as it was for the
character in this movie?
OT: Yea, I
mean it was a little atypical my own experience. I graduated in 2005, so 10
years, 11 years behind the curve of the kids in this movie. In a lot of ways it
was very different, in a lot of ways it was exactly the same.
PK: Is your
OT: Not yet.
Almost. I actually didn’t. It was a little atypical for me because I got my
first acting gig when I was about to graduate, so I actually left school a
JL: But it
was the high school that Olivia went to was very similar
similar I think it probably was not a far cry for the school that Stephanie and
Luke graduated from
JL: In fact
one of the reference materials was my buddy went to the same high school that
she went to in ‘94 and I took his yearbook and that was one of the reference
OT:... and the school is K-12, so in 94 I was
actually at the school in 2nd grade and I was in the yearbook that they were
using as a wardrobe reference. They were looking at the seniors page, but if
you flipped to lower school, I was there in 2nd grade.
PK: So what
are you guys doing now? I heard that you’re and I found this hard to believe
because you had already been in one of his movies but you were taken off the
cast of “Pineapple Express” and plan to boycott it when it comes out?
OT: Yea I
don’t think that David had anything to do with that decision. I’m not
boycotting it for the record. Somebody came up with that. That’s absolutely not
JL: I’ll go
see it. You wanna go see it?
OT: I’m ready
to go see it. It’s going to be hilarious. Plus, I participated in it for a
JL: But we
should pay for “The Wackness” and then just sneak into it.
Wackness” got the audience award at Sundance and also at Los Angeles, but it seems to me like it’s
going to be a really tough sell because it’s not really like a stoner comedy
like Pineapple Express would be.
OT: It’s a
bit of a mixture. It’s like very specific and very broad and universal at the
JL: I mean I
guess we’ll see. I think for me as a… and I’m a big summer movie film guy, but
at this point I’ve seen so many explosions and computer characters, that I’ll
be excited about, I mean I think beyond anything it’s a character driven movie
so hopefully that is something that people will respond to at this point in the
summer, but it’s challenging. It’s provocative and it’s different, but I
consider those assets.
PK: What are
you going up against?
JL: I mean “Hancock”
comes out the same weekend, but I don’t think we’re really
adolescent male character with super powers.
JL: I guess
that’s true. I’m not sure that we’re gonna. I willingly concede to that, but I
think that hopefully we can be a nice alternative for some people.
JL: Well, I’m
adapting a book for Sony called “The Echelon Vendetta” and then I’m reading a lot of scripts, but the fact that I’m so proud of this
makes it hard. I don’t want to do anything that sucks, so I’m trying to hold
out and figure out the right thing.
Glass,” “Dream of the Romans,” “New York I Love You,” “Margaret.”
PK: These are
they’re in the can.
PK: So now
you’re just relaxing. Doing crack.