THE GUARDIAN – The actor on starring in an acclaimed Sundance drama about Christine Chubbuck – the news anchor who achieved notoriety in the 70s for killing herself on live TV – and why she’s rarely offered parts this complex.
Hi, Rebecca! How are you?
Full of a head cold, but otherwise fine.
I think so. I think it’s just travelling and generally being over-adrenalised and happily pulled in too many directions. But yes, cold!
The last time you were in Park City was with the broad comedy Lay the Favourite (1).
It’s a completely different thing to go with a film that doesn’t have distribution (2); it’s a really different animal. I had no experience of that. The two I came with before both had distribution; premiering them there was more like just having a coming-out party. There were stakes with Christine. It was also playing in the competition, which was a different thing as well. There was a lot more nerve involved. You wait for reviews, for buyers to circle it, and then you wait for the juries. It’s a nerve-racking process.
I was at the Sundance premiere of Christine: did you sit through the entire movie?
I did, yes! I saw a cut, but it wasn’t with music. And I think there is a difference when you see something with an audience, so I wanted to sit through it. I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. I found it really hard.
It’s a tough watch for anyone. Watching it took me back to the space I was in when I was doing it. I wasn’t really conscious of it while I was watching, but halfway through I thought: God, I’ve got this really bad tension, and why is my shoulder seizing up? My posture was changing in my seat as I was watching.Read More
VANITY FAIR – Rebecca Hall describes her career as “trying to keep on trucking on,” but what it looks like is a whole lot more impressive than that. At 33, the London-born actress has everything from a best-picture nominee (Frost/Nixon) and a superhero blockbuster (Iron Man 3) to a trippy Johnny Depp sci-fi drama (Transcendence) on her résumé. Her new film is yet another left turn: she stars opposite Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton in this week’s The Gift, a domestic thriller about a seemingly perfect couple whose lives are upended by a visitor from the past. Hall spoke with senior west coast editor Krista Smith about the late-night party with Edgerton that led to the role, and why she may as well just keep an American accent 24/7 these days.
In this thriller, you saw everyone’s point of view. There wasn’t necessarily a good guy or a bad guy, which I really like.
Yeah, it all seemed quite clear to me that [Joel Edgerton] wanted to make a domestic drama that was masquerading as a thriller. It appears to be about one thing, but actually it’s lots more.
And your character is initially the one who seems to have a problem, and then it changes.
Yeah, I really like that. It was an interesting thing for me to play because I have a lot to monkey around with. Playing someone who looks like she’s perfect and diligent, but is sort of submissive and has no power and is clearly lost, and sort of playing with the balance of how much of that I show. I loved that she had a past that was damaged. Otherwise, it could have really been in danger of being a sort of victimized, female role. Instead, what I think it is, is a much more valuable story of a woman who doesn’t know her own power, and because of horrible things that happened to her, ends up growing up and probably coming out of it a lot better then she’d thought at the beginning. The event in the movie forces her to realize her own strength.
How did you come to be in it and work with Joel?
We’d met in London at a random drinks thing someone had . . . which ended up in a group of people drinking into the wee hours in my flat. So, we became friends around that time. Then he sent me the script and said, “You’d be great for this. Will you have a look?,” and I was just really excited to read it. You know, part of me just instantly wants to back a first-time film director if I think they’re smart and I’m fond of them—even more if it’s an actor. Not just because I’m an actor and what if I want to do that one day; it’s more because actors have seen a lot of other directors’ work, and directors on the whole never witness another director working. . . . Actors, I think, have a first-hand experience of that in much closer proximity than any other [role on a film]. I don’t believe that all actors should end up being directors. A lot of them really shouldn’t, but [they’re] sort of talented in that arena in the first place.
Jason Bateman really surprised me in this, too.
Yeah, I know. He’s really funny about it. I said, “Oh this is perfect.” He’s just so intrinsically trustworthy and charming and funny. Everyone likes [him]. No one’s going to really second-guess [him]. That’s what makes it sort of fascinating.
You’ve been so busy, it feels like light speed; does it feel that way to you?
I had a gap. I had a big gap, love. This time last year I was on a kind of eight-month hiatus—partially self-inflicted and then not, as the months went by. Then I sort of made up for it this year. I’ve already shot three films this year. So that’s confusing to me because this is the first one of three in a row that I’ve shot back-to-back.
Are you doing American accents in these?
Yeah, I’m always American these days. I should just suck it up and speak American every day. I’ve got the American mother and, you know, now I live in New York. So, what’s the difference?
Superhero movies seem to dominate the conversation a lot of the time, but it feels like there’s this undercurrent of all these other new directors—globally, actually—and actors kind of knowing each other, just like how you knew Joel, working together and creating all this really great material.
God, I hope that’s true. We’re in this sort of strange period of transition. You know, the way that movies used to get made has really shifted in the last five years—dramatically and quickly. Even in the last six months, I feel it’s shifted toward TV because that’s where all the innovation is. But at the same time, we sort of understand how we can make these sorts of markets on the smaller films. There’s a landscape where we’re all just sort of kind of groveling around trying to find out just how to do it and get it done and whether that means doing stuff that’s going to be solely distributed on Netflix or Hulu, or whatever. There are huge opportunities out there. I think that it’s potentially quite exciting. I mean, there’s always going to be a market for another superhero movie.
Are you going to do any Netflix or HBO or anything?
Yeah, I’m about to start a limited series. [Codes of Conduct, co-starring Helena Bonham Carter and Devon Terrell.] Steve McQueen is directing for HBO.
Oh, great! You’re doing great, and that’s not necessarily easy to do, and it’s so arbitrary.
Yeah, I know. There are a lot of many, many different ways to go about it these days, and I feel like my particular brand—trying to keep on trucking on,—is not necessarily the most fashionable right now, but I’m still working.
Rebecca is featured in the latest issue of Interview–and in addition to a new interview, she looks strikingly beautiful in this black and white photoshoot taken for the magazine. If you haven’t already, you can read the full interview below–where Rebecca discusses her current role in The Gift, as well as her challenging potrayal of news reporter Christine Chubbuck, in Christine, which is due for release at some point next year. Enjoy!
INTERVIEW – If you meet Rebecca Hall, she might ask you about your family history. “It’s always something I do when I meet people,” she says with a laugh. “Alright, tell me about your family, what’s the deal?” Though she’s just one in a household full of performers (her mother is an opera singer, her father a director, and her half-siblings scattered across a variety of theater and film disciplines), she’s adamant that most families have as intriguing a story to tell as hers. (She concedes that hers is “more externally colorful.”) She mentions Sarah Polley’s recent documentary Stories We Tell by way of example—the film is premised on the idea that every family has its own story.
Her excitement about family narratives is part of a deeper cultural curiosity—she’s also a self-professed music nerd (currently deciding whether she likes Chilly Gonzales’s latest effort) and a consumer of films of all descriptions. She’s hard-pressed to pick a favorite genre, even. “I’m a fan, at the end of the day,” she says. “I’m a real geek in this department.” She tosses out a list of what she watches regularly, from Golden Age American films to French cinema, to the latest blockbusters, comedies, and drama, foreign and domestic alike. Her openness to experience also defines her choices of roles. This year alone, she appears in the upcoming Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, the Antonio Campos biopic Christine about a young Floridian newscaster who committed suicide on live television, and Joel Edgerton’s The Gift, a psychological thriller in the purest sense of the term.Read More
Be sure to check out this awesome new interview (it’s almost an hour long!) with Rebecca in the latest episode of Happy Sad Confused–hosted by Josh Horowitz. I’ve also added some portraits from the interview to the gallery, enjoy!
Be sure to check out this beautiful new photoshoot of Rebecca taken for The New Potato–along with the accompanying interview that can be found below. Enjoy!
THE NEW POTATO – As neurotic New Yorkers ourselves, we first fell in love with Rebecca Hall when she graced the screen in Vicky Cristina Barcelona as the newest Woody Allen heroine. She continued to be a favorite of ours as we watched her moved seamlessly through movies like The Town and Transcendence without a moment’s pause. This week, her newest movie – a thriller called The Gift – comes out and is further proof of this Brit’s Meryl-Streep-like capability to nail a wide variety of roles. But enough about show business, we sat down with Hall on all things beauty, food and various pieces of life advice. We also got a quote from Woody…obviously.
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
I’d wake up to the sound of fresh coffee beans being ground. The beans would be from a place called Workshop in Clerkenwell, London. It may be my favorite cup of coffee. Whenever I pass through I stockpile as many bags into a suitcase as is legal. I’d drink about a gallon of this, and then realize I’d have to eat something to prevent adrenal exhaustion. This would be German mestemacher bread toasted in olive oil, sliced avocado, a fried egg and Sriracha. Lunch would be a big salad with lots of kale (does anyone else find it peculiar that ten years ago kale was exclusively used as the decoration for sushi platters?) and maybe some grilled chicken and a bunch of exciting crunchy things that you could just as likely feed a bird. Dinner would be cooked by my friend Brian, who is an amateur chef. He does a lemon fettuccine and sous vide steak that guarantees a blissed out food coma. We’d drink a bottle of chilled Cialla Bianco, Ronchi di Cialla 1997. I’m not really as much of a wine buff as this would suggest. I discovered that one by accident at I Sodi in New York after being hypnotized by the amber color of the wine a man with a tattoo on his head was drinking at the bar. It tastes almost as exotic too.
You come from a theater/entertainment family. Is it fun all being in a similar business?
It has its moments. It can be great that we all understand what one another does, but it can be exhausting also.
When did you know you wanted to become an actress? Who were your inspirations?
My mother [Maria Ewing] was one of the greatest performers I ever saw as a kid – and I watched her all the time – so there is no question she was an inspiration. Pretty soon after that I discovered Bette Davis doing the scene when she uses cold cream to take off her stage makeup in All About Eve. Ruined.Read More
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – In Tumbledown, Rebecca Hall plays a young woman struggling to move on after the death of her husband, an acclaimed folk singer.
On the surface, the film doesn’t appear to be the most lighthearted fare, but Hall read it as a welcome relief. “I had just done a very heavy theatrical piece that involved me getting in the electric chair seven nights a week,” she told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet before the film’s world premiere during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday. “I was looking for something funny.”
Which isn’t to say that Tumbledown is afraid to explore darker subjects, she continued. “I’m a grieving widow. It’s not a straightforward comedy at all. But it’s more comedy than anything else.”
Jason Sudeikis, the romantic lead opposite Hall, plays a college professor of American studies with a “deep interest and passion in Rebecca’s deceased husband — he’s attempting to learn his life story through her eyes,” he told THR. The pair are tasked with writing his biography together, as romantic feelings slowly take root.
The project stewed on the back burner for years until, suddenly, all the pieces fell into place. “Jason was the first one who really committed and stuck with us for a couple years while he went on his Horrible Bosses train,” producer Kristin Hahn told THR. “Rose Byrne was onboard for a while, but we couldn’t make the schedules work. Jason finally had a window where he was like, ‘I can do it now before I have a baby. If we wrap on a certain day, I will do the movie.’ We had to go fast.”
For first-time director Sean Mewshaw and his wife, first-time screenwriter Desi Van Til, working on the film has spanned the entire length of their relationship. “Did we bring drafts of the script on our honeymoon?” Van Til asked her husband on the red carpet. “We’ve been married for eight years — we’ve been working on this for a long time.” Joked Mewshaw: “It’s lucky that we have kids, so now that the movie is over, we still have something to talk about!”
While Tumbledown is very much a rom-com, it takes a fresh approach on an old dynamic. “In a weird way, I thought of the movie as a love triangle between two people who are alive and one who is dead,” Mewshaw said onstage after the screening. “They both love the same man, and I was interested in trying to find a way that that brought them together.”
The fest has proved an action-packed marathon for Sudeikis, who recently shot an AT&T spot for the fest and attended the premiere of fiancee Olivia Wilde’s film Meadowlands the night before. Wilde, in turn, was on hand to support Sudeikis and the film, alongside fellow castmember Dianna Agron and guests Josh Lucas and Maggie Castle.
HUNGER – Rebecca Hall’s decision to drop out of university in her final year to pursue acting may have been a risky one, but the gamble has certainly paid off. Although, with Sir Peter Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and opera singer Maria Ewing as parents, perhaps it wasn’t really that much of a gamble – the stage seems to be in her blood.
In 2008, following a number of theatre roles, and smaller parts in Starter for 10 and The Prestige, Hollywood came knocking and she landed the part of good girl Vicky in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, for which she picked up a Golden Globe nomination. Then came Frost/Nixon, The Town and The Awakening, and her BAFTA-winning portrayal of a traumatised mother in Red Riding: In The Year of Our Lord 1974. And last year Rebecca proved that she can also tackle blockbusters when she took on brainy biologist Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3. With a starring role opposite Johnny Depp this year, it looks like she should get used to having Hollywood at her door.
REBECCA, YOUR DAD IS BRITISH AND YOUR MUM IS AMERICAN, DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH ONE CULTURE MORE THAN THE OTHER?
I identify more with British culture because I grew up here, and I went to school and university here. I’m a Londoner and I always have been. It doesn’t mean I’m not very at home in American culture, though. I have an understanding of it, and there’s a part of me that feels fairly American when I go there, but I feel home is home and that’s London.Read More
Empire recently caught up with Rebecca to discuss the movies that have impacted her life. It’s a great read–be sure to take a look if you haven’t already.
What was the first movie you ever saw?
The one I remember watching a lot when I was tiny is probably The Wizard Of Oz. My mum’s American and she raised me on the Golden Age of Hollywood. I didn’t watch TV or a lot of films that were of my time..
What was the movie that inspired you to go into films?
When I was eight, nine, ten years old I was obsessed with All About Eve. It’s a film about theatre people, so I suppose it inspired me to act. And I just thought Bette Davis was incredibly… cool (laughs). I think it was something about her combination of larger-than-life campery and a raw humanity that doesn’t have any vanity, really. That’s what interested me about film: the capacity to do great glamour and something that can be very ugly and very true at the same time.
What was the last movie you saw that reminded you of your childhood?
Kind Hearts And Coronets. Not that it reminds me of my childhood, but it reminds me of sitting with my dad (Peter Hall) and him saying, “You should watch this because it’s a great film.” I just thought, “This is a crazy film and it’s brilliant!” It’s still one of my favourites.
What was the last movie that made you cry with laughter?
[Jackass Presents:] Bad Grandpa. I saw it a couple of days ago and I did weep a little. Especially the bit where he’s lying on that bed that he’s trying to sell at a junk sale and it starts folding him in two… I thought I was gonna be sick I was laughing so hard.
What was the last movie that made you fight back the tears?
Blue Is The Warmest Colour. I loved it.Read More