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Brit Marling Talks 'The East,' 'Sound of My Voice' and Delivering on the Hype

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire May 2, 2012 at 12:25PM

The last time Indiewire caught up with writer/actress Brit Marling was at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where the Georgetown Economics grad made quite the first impression by wowing critics and audiences with two breakthrough turns in "Another Earth" and "Sound of My Voice" (both of which she also co-wrote).

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij at a screening of "Sound of My Voice" presented by Gucci.
Dave Allocca/Starpix Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij at a screening of "Sound of My Voice" presented by Gucci.
How do you navigate the industry aspect of what you do? Especially as a newcomer.

I think what's interesting is that the industry is all made up of people. It's all about finding the right people in the industry that you have a simpatico with. People who you're inspired by the way they see the world or vice versa. We feel that so much with everyone at Searchlight, which is why we made "The East" there. That was an incredible experience and a great collaboration. The process of making it there made the script better. It just came to life in a way that would have been impossible had we been realizing it at a microbudget.

So that part of it is exciting and fantastic. There are of course other elements to this work, maybe in particular to being an actress, that are more difficult to navigate. But I think you always just keep going back to the work. The work is so humbling because it's so hard to do, and it just keeps getting harder.

You're just trying to figure out how to get better at this thing that you love. I sort of feel OK about how everything's played out so far.

How have you gotten better since breaking out? You starred alongside relative unknowns in "Sound of My Voice" and "Another Earth," and now you're working opposite actors like Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. How have your new experiences shaped you as a performer?

It's tremendous working with actors who have that depth of experience. I mean working with Susan and Richard -- they have had so much experience on set, they really understand how to make friends with the apparatus. They understand that space and how to make that space into what they need to unlock and let go. So watching that and learning from them was tremendous. And also, I just think they're the kind of actors who are so good at what they do -- I mean, they're masters of illusion -- so when you're in a scene with them, you're not working with an actor, you're working with your dad or your mom. So that's pretty awesome.

"I really don't believe the hype myself. Because I don't believe it, it's hard to be affected by it."
And about delivering on the hype, what's living up to that pressure been like?

I wonder if this is a fair thing to say, I'm trying to speak honestly. I really don't believe the hype myself. Because I don't believe it, it's hard to be affected by it.

That's a healthy way to go about it.

I hope so. I think about acting like it's this incredible challenge. I imagine if you're a heart surgeon and you've been doing it for a decade, you've cut a lot of people open at this point and you've been around lots of kinds of trauma and you bring that awareness to every surgery you do. As an actor, you have an accumulated knowledge base. But there's also something about it that every time you really feel like you're doing it for the first time; you have no idea whether you're capable of it. You almost feel a little bit like a charlatan and you don't understand what all the fuss is about. Five films into this, I still feel like an infant.

So the hype part of it doesn't enter that world. It just kind of feels like a lot of sound and fury going nowhere.

This article is related to: Interviews, Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice, Another Earth

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