Read Shockya.com's exclusive interview with actress Marin Ireland, whose black comedy-drama, ‘The Understudy,’ is set to hit select theaters in March 2012. The movie follows Ireland’s title character, Rebecca, an unemployed actress who’s living with her equally unsuccessful screenwriter boyfriend. Rebecca’s luck seemingly starts to change when she is asked to be the understudy to famous movie star Simone Harwin in the play ‘Electra.’
Rebecca’s fame increases as the play’s leading women begin suffering from accidents. To keep the spotlight, Rebecca must protect her freedom and cast off all suspicion that she was involved in the accidents. Ireland discusses with us, among other things, what attracted her to the role of Rebecca, and the natural working relationship she had with ‘The Understudy’s co-writers and directors, David Conolly and Hannah Davis.
Written by: Karen Benardello
ShockYa (SY): In ‘The Understudy,’ you portray Rebecca, an unemployed actress whose luck changes when she becomes an understudy of a play. However, she’s ignored by the cast and crew, and doesn’t receive attention until she begins causing accidents on the set, in order to be promoted. What attracted you to the role of Rebecca?
Marin Ireland (MI): Well, I had a history with David and Hannah, who wrote ‘The Understudy’ and directed it. We had worked on another project for awhile that involved a lot of improvisation, in terms of developing the script. So when they brought me the script, it was about three quarters done. It sat on the shelf for awhile, on the back burner. They wanted to help me improvise my way around finishing that one again.
Those types of experiences, of feeling the rejection, are overwhelming. All of those experiences of being an actor are familiar. So we had a really good time, getting to explore that, and bringing my own personal experiences to the table.
SY: Speaking of David and Hannah, they co-wrote and co-directed the film together. Do you find it easier to work with directors who worked on the script?
MI: Yes. In this case, they’re so special, because they really do co-direct and co-write. It was wonderful to have them have such an insight and input into the script. They were very clear on some points, where they wanted dialogue to be said as it was written. Other moments, it could be a little more flexible. They had a lot of say over where it could have a lot of room.
Also, the way that they worked together is great. Working with a team like that is nice, because they can share responsibility in a really great way.
SY: ‘The Understudy’ was David and Hannah’s second film, after the 2004 drama ‘Mothers and Daughters.’ Were you familiar with their directorial and writing debut before you began shooting ‘The Understudy?’ What was it like working with relatively new filmmakers on the film?
MI: I had seen the film, they had given me a copy to watch of ‘Mothers and Daughters’ before we started working on another project in between ‘Mothers and Daughters’ and ‘The Understudy.’ That hasn’t yet happened, but I think it will. So I had seen that, and I really liked it. Then I went in on that with them.
I worked with filmmakers primarily at this point, in their second or third realms of movies. I haven’t noticed any significant differences. They’re very clear on their vision. So I didn’t think of them as people who had only made one or two things. They’re very clear and smart, and accurate in terms of achieving their vision, and welcoming you into that world.
SY: David and Hannah also briefly appeared in ‘The Understudy.’ What is it like working with directors and screenwriters who are also actors?
MI: Oh, it’s really helpful, because I feel that one of the most important things that they understand is that everybody has their own process. So they were very eager to learn how each of us needed to work. So rather than demanding certain things at certain moments, they were always very trusting that we would deliver what we needed to deliver for them, and that we had our own way of getting there, and our own process.
They were curious about that, and respectful of that at the same time. I definitely feel that was something that came from being performers, and understanding the atmosphere; people need to find their own space sometimes on the movie set, and their own way of working.
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