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THR 2019 Actress Roundtable with Dern, Zellwegger, Lopez, Nyong'o, Johansson, and Awkwafina



Actresses are representing their performances this year for Marriage Story and Little Women (Dern), Judy (Zellweger), Hustlers (Lopez), Us (Nyong’o), Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit (Johansson), and The Farewell (Awkwafina)

About a ~15 minute read. Video clips at the source, can’t imbed. Full video to air on Sundance Channel in January 2020.

. Dern talks about the diversity in the types of roles she has played and she wants an intimacy coach as a wrap present

. Zellwegger talks about her approach to playing Judy and not going down the path of cut-off shorts roles she was offered early in her career

. Lopez talks about playing Selena, purposely wanting to be in romantic comedy roles, how the tabloid media has affected her, and a director who wanted her to take off her shirt

. Nyong’o talks about preparing for Us, the difference in the chemistry between actors on stage versus film, and what she wants to see from the film industry as far as equitable representation

. Johansson talks about her lines for Marriage Story, her thoughts on Scorsese remarks /re Marvel films, and a story about a DP on a previous film doing creepy things on that set

. Awkwafina really related to her character in The Farewell, tells amusing master-her-domain story, is surprised to hear how auditions used to work for generations before her, [due to her being younger and coming into the industry more recently] can’t imagine not working on projects without females at the helm

. Follow up to THR 2019 Actors Roundtable


More From Dern

. [On roles that were intimidated] talks about Citizen Ruth, character huffing paint, and that it was the role with most departure from her real self

. working with both Baumbach and Gerwig and their attachment to the words of their screenplay

. [On being covered in the press] references Lopez and her gift for navigating that heightened scrutiny for so long

. disappointment with boardrooms who sit and speak in a vacuum that films with women don’t make money

. auditioning as a child, that it was common to be in a hotel room back in the day (doesn’t mention anything unusual happening to her, context is the process evolving with TimesUp and MeToo era)

. wants an intimacy coach as a wrap present

[On working with both Baumbach and Gerwig] I think they're both /snip/ they're both exacting about the words because they really, I think as a playwright would, they really hear a rhythm to the language. With Noah it has its own specific nature. And one thing that I was so inspired by, and I think we found in rehearsals: Even when we aren't in the scenes with the people at hand, when it's with Adam [Driver] with his attorney or Scarlett and I together, he feels there is a really musicality to the film. I mean literally too — a couple of actual songs in the film. But I think he hears a rhythm, Noah, that he is waiting for everyone to resonate with in a really beautiful way. It was beautiful to surrender to that discipline, to not try to find your own rhythm outside of it and have emotional freedom within the scene but really trust his language. And I would say that Greta has that very much [as well].



More From Zellweger

. [On roles that were intimidated] feels imposter syndrome sneaks up on you with every role

. goes into detail about playing Judy Garland, the rhythm of how she spoke, sang, body language, it becoming second nature while on set

. earlier in her career getting the cut-off shorts girl roles but realizing she couldn’t go far with that so she avoided it, wanted to be able to play relatable women at any age

. [On MeToo] recognizing that men (in professional partnerships) are making different choices now, making their intentions more clear

. also had auditions in hotel rooms, sometimes with female casting directors, or sometimes at the actor’s house

Yeah, they keep the door open. Or I had one gentleman say, "I don't meet with women alone. I always make sure that there's somebody else in here because I don't want anything to be misconstrued or misunderstood and I want her to be comfortable." So you see that there are different choices being made.



More From Lopez

[she talks a lot!]

. [On roles that were intimidated] talks about her opening stripper pole scene in Hustlers and why she felt it was important for her character to do that but she was terrified

. talks about playing Selena and at first the imitations and then her music and her performances [that helped her play the role]

. loves playing real people, loved playing Selena, was worried she would fuck it up (other actresses say No she didn’t)

. talks about how she navigates the tabloid media (Dern references her on this topic)

. said when she first started out, she wanted to play romantic comedies because the woman was always white, so she wanted to show Latinas could be in that role, too, and that she’s irl a hopeless romantic

. tells story about a director asking her to take off her top at a fitting

. also had auditions in hotel rooms and actor’s houses

. they had a comfort coach on Hustlers who kept everyone in check, when the ladies were partially nude or scantily clothed, what was Ok versus not Ok

A director at a fitting asked me to take my top off. (to see what) Because I was supposed to do nudity in the movie. He wanted to see my boobs. And I was like, "We're not on set." /snip/ Well, he was crazy. And … And I said no, I stood up for myself. But it was so funny because I remember being so panicked in the moment. And by the way, there was a costume designer in the room with me. So there was another woman in the room and he says this and I said no. Luckily a little bit of the Bronx came out, and I was like, "I don't have to show you my — No. On the set, you see them." /snip/ That's the thing, because if you give in, in that moment, all of a sudden that person is off and running, thinking they can do whatever they want. And because I put up a little boundary right there and said no, he laid off and then later on apologized. But the minute he walked out of the room the costume designer was like, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry that just happened."



More From Nyong’o

. [On roles that were intimidated] the role she played in Us was terrifying to her (Dern says, And us. /laughter)

. Talks about how she played two different roles but needing to prepare within the same time she would for only one role

. trained in the theatre so the chemistry with other actors is present and visible, but being on film, sometimes you’re not even interacting with the actor, even if they’re present, for the shot you may need to look at X versus the person so it’s sometimes up to the editor to make that chemistry palpable to the audience (paraphrasing)

. says working with under-represented directors wasn’t a conscious choice, feels the moment of maturity will be when (equitable representation) is the norm

. [in response to Lopez story about being asked to take her shirt off] feels they are programming younger generations to know what’s Ok and what’s not Ok

. brings up intimacy coaches which she uses the analogy of fight scenes having a stunt coordinator so it’s good that intimacy coaches are on set for nudity scenes

So like with Jordan in the horror genre, not often do you have black characters in the fore. So he is revolutionizing that genre — that black people don't die first in his films. And [race] is really not the point. What is the point is that it's an examination of class and privilege. The family that we are following is representational of the all-American family. And that you can relate to that person just as much as I related to Fräulein Maria in The Sound of Music. That it is possible that we can see ourselves in the people who are different from us, from other cultures, other creeds.



More From Johansson

. elaborates on the screenplay, that when characters are hesitating or not finishing a sentence, that was all scripted and Baumbach was a real stickler to how he wanted his words to flow

. [On Zellweger playing Judy] wonders if there was a time where it eventually became seamless, that she was that person

. Tells Lopez that she didn’t fuck it up /re Selena role back in the day

. talks about people hypersexualizing her or making her the engenue even though that was not her irl, figures it was some dudes in a room inventing the narrative

. had the opportunity for a role in an Arthur Miller play and that helped her navigate her career better, re/roles she could pursue

. talks about Scorcese remarks re/Marvel films

. wanted to know who asked Lopez to take her shirt off

. tells a story about a previous film she was on, where she learned after the fact, that the DP was doing up-skirt shots, and the AD was the one to give the actress the courtesy heads up [the DP was the culprit but there are so many other angles to unpack]

There's certainly a place for all kinds of cinema right now. People absorb content in so many different ways. I actually didn't totally understand that statement, because I guess I needed some insight as to what it meant exactly. Because to me it seemed a little old-fashioned. But somebody pointed out to me that perhaps what the statement meant was that there's no room for smaller films, because the cinema is taken up by these enormous blockbusters, and smaller movies don't have a chance at the theater, which I hadn't actually considered and think is a valid point. But I also feel like there's sort of this shift in how people watch stuff and there's all these platforms for different kinds of [content]. Now there's movies and shows and art films and all kinds of stuff getting made that you can watch in all these different ways, and I just feel like it's changing. It doesn't mean it's going away.



More From Awkwafina

. [on chemistry between actors on set, as follow up to Nyong’o remarks] wonders if she’s the person on set that others didn’t have chemistry with

. owns Selena and watched the film all the time

. talks about the pressure of playing a dramatic role and the pressure and all the overthinking she did but in the end she really related to the character

. believes there is a genuine urge for audiences to want an industry that represents their life

. talks about an earlier role, she had a masturbation scene, and how she prepared for the role, and then her grandma saw it (funny story)

. wonders if intimacy coach works with regular people because she has trouble making eye contact in her personal life

That's always very interesting to me when I hear that because when I first started, the first two directors I worked with were women. And when I hear about the industry that existed — that this was really rare — it's mind-blowing for me. I can't imagine not working with a woman at the helm of a project, like at all.


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Tags: actor / actress, asian celebrities, film, film - drama, film - horror, jennifer lopez, laura dern, lupita nyongo, scarlett johansson
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