An interview with Chloe Sevigny of "Palmetto"
by Brandon Judell
Chloe Sevigny in “Palmetto.”
Photo Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment
Looking pretty much like a streetwise Grace Kelly, Chloe Sevigny has
arrived at the Essex House with her mother in tow. Attired in a form
caressing sweater with the top buttons open, she displayed something
most of us never thought we’d see on the star of “Kids” and “Gummo“:
a simple strand of pearls.
Yes, the actress who can instinctively portray knocked-about,
impoverished, sexually-wrought teens like no one else has actually been
acting more than we ever thought. Like her French name, the gal’s got
This class is not exactly apparent in “Palmetto” in which she portrays a
rich brat of teen who is supposedly staging her own kidnaping to get
cash out of her ailing dad. Woody Harrelson stars as her aid/patsy and
Volker (“The Young Torless“; “Tin Drum“) Schlondorff directs.
indieWIRE: Were you surprised by all the negative reaction “Gummo”
Chloe Sevigny: I think it was mostly just the mainstream critics that
didn’t like it. The fact that Janet Maslin said it was one of the worst
films of the year, [no doubt caused] Fine Line to pull it. She pretty
much sabotaged our movie. (Laughs) That’s how we like to see it.
iW: I would have put her quote in the ad.
Sevigny: I just think Fine Line was more concerned with “Boogie Nights.”
“Gummo” is a difficult film, and it’s a new film that people aren’t sure
how to relate to. It’s an amazing, funny and hilarious movie. I think
it’s a beautiful movie, and the acting is great, and it looks beautiful
and everything. I don’t know what happened in America. Just the
mainstream critics and Fine Line. All the kids that I know who saw it,
loved it. They come up to me in the street all the time and think it’s
just amazing. At every film festival it’s been to in Europe, it’s won
the Critic’s Prize. Harmony [Korine] was just in Rotterdam where it won
the main prize in the main competition. I don’t know what happened in
America. It was a tragedy. It’s still playing midnight at the Angelica.
Now they’re opening it wider for some reason.
Sevigny: Like it’s playing in Dallas and Greenwich, Connecticut.
iW: Well, maybe it’ll be another “Rocky Horror Show.”
iW: Now what attracted you to the part of Odette in “Palmetto”? Were you
familiar with Schlondorff’s previous work? Or was it just a good part?
Sevigny: I was familiar with Volker’s films, and I always admired him as
a filmmaker, his older films. He approached me, and I wasn’t doing
anything at the time so I said, “Why not?” It would be fun to play like
the young ingenue teen tart because I really hadn’t done that yet. I got
to do it once, I guess. (Laughs)
iW: An ingenue with a violent future.
Sevigny: Yes. I was the first person cast in the film. Volker came to me
and said, “I don’t know who else is going to be in this film. I’d like
you to read it. If you like it, I want you to play the part.”
iW: What had he seen you in?
Sevigny: He had seen me in “Trees Lounge,” and I think he wanted me to
play a very similar girl to that. I thought she was really different
iW: I hear the expectations for “The Last Days of Disco” are very
iW: Was that a fun film to make?
Sevigny: That was fun. It was a lot of work though. It’s the most I’ve
ever worked on a film because my character is pretty big. I’m in almost
every scene. It’s a very big role. He’s outrageous that guy, Whit
Stillman. He’s a maniac. (Laughs) I mean he’s such an auteur but it’s
like “How many ice cubes do you have in your glass?” I mean he’s so
obsessive/compulsive about everything. It’s unreal. I’ve never met
anybody like that. But I admire him for that. He was the
producer/writer/director/everything, you know. He has the final say on
every shoelace. Everything.
iW: Did that mean a lot of retakes to get everything right?
Sevigny: No retakes, but it was just very slow for us. It was very long
and very slow. We never made a day once.
iW: So are you a disco dancer now? Will you be the new female version of
Sevigny: It’s “The Last Days of Disco.” So it’s like ’81, ’82. The final
days when disco was pretty much uncool. You know what I mean. So there’s
not much that dancing. It’s more like “Metropolitan.” I’m like a girl
who just graduated from Hampshire. Very blue-blood. WASPY.
iW: So we’re all going to see a new side of you.
Sevigny: The Connecticut side.
iW: Is that why you are wearing pearls today?
Sevigny: I was trying to look elegant. (Laughs)
iW: You do. It works.
Sevigny: My character is socially awkward, and very moralistic, and very
smart, but in the end, all the boys go for her. (Laughs)
iW: So this film will show everyone your range even though your previous
performances were pretty fine. We’ll see you in a new light.
Sevigny: Yes, I hope so.
But I’ve had a terrible cold and didn’t remember until I saw the new
issue. Well, maybe you can use them tomorrow.