Saturday, September 15, 2012

Interview: Richard Jenkins Talks Liberal Arts

Interview: Richard Jenkins Talks Liberal Arts, Written by: Karen Benardello As people grow older and start reflecting on their school experiences and career, they often feel a sense of nostalgia for their youth and the carefree days they once had. They initially have conflicting feelings over wanting to relive what they have always perceived to be the best times of their lives and anticipating the next phase in their lives, such as retirement. But they come to realize they have to move forward in their lives, and the things they did when they were younger weren’t always the best option. This is certainly the case with the character of English professor Peter Hoburg, played by Richard Jenkins, in the new comedy drama ‘Liberal Arts,’ which was written and directed by Josh Radnor. ‘Liberal Arts,’ which will be released theatrically and on VOD tomorrow, follows newly single Jesse Fisher (played by Radnor), a university admission counselor in his mid-thirties living in New York City. He returns to his Ohio alma mater for a retirement dinner for Peter. While back on campus, Jesse has a chance meeting with 19-year-old Zibby (played by Elizabeth Olsen), a precocious undergrad who loves classical music, improv and the ‘Twilight’ books. Meeting Zibby awakens long-dormant feelings of possibility and connection in Jesse, as the duo strikes up a long-distance romance. Although Zibby is mature behind her years, the large age difference between the two heavily weighs on Jesse’s conscience. As he debates starting a relationship with Libby, Jesse becomes torn between moving forward in life and holding on to the memories of his own unforgettable undergraduate career. His life is also put into prospective after he meets upbeat party animal Nat (portrayed by Zac Efron); depressed student Dean (played by John Magaro) and his former, feisty Romantics professor, Judith Fairfield (portrayed by Allison Janney). Jenkins generously took the time to sit down and discuss what it was like filming ‘Liberal Arts’ during a recent roundtable interview at New York City’s Crosby Hotel. Among other things, Jenkins discussed what it was like working with Radnor in the directorial, writing and acting senses; how his experiences acting and directing in the theater during the beginning of his career have shaped his film work today; and what he learns, and how he benefits, from reading the reviews of his movies. Question (Q): Had you meet Josh Radnor while you were filming ‘Six Feet Under?’ He did a guest starring role on the show, which you had a recurring role on. Richard Jenkins (RJ): No, we hadn’t met on the show. We have the same agent, and I did a half-day for (Radnor’s feature film directorial and writing debut) ‘Happythankyoumoreplease,’ and met him then. Then I met him at a couple film festivals, and we talked a few times. I’ve always liked him, he’s smart and funny. Q: Josh wrote this role for you, right? RJ: Yes. I can’t say no, right? (laughs) Q: Did you identity with the character? RJ: I did, I did. I identified with the whole film, because I went to a small, private school in the Midwest, in Illinois, and loved every minute of it. I love going back. Every time I do go back, I think, why can’t I just be in college again? I understand wanting to be 19 all the time. Isn’t it true? Q: How old do you feel? RJ: About 16. (laughs) It varies on the day. I love going back, I just went back to my high school’s 45th reunion. Somebody said, I don’t like going back. But I haven’t seen some of these guys for 45 years, and it was fantastic. My wife and I both went to the same college, so we try to go back as much as we can. It was a great time. To continue reading this interview, please visit Shockya.

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