Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

LAFF Q&A: 'The Newsroom' Star Alison Pill Talks Woody Allen, Aaron Sorkin and the Thing About Hollywood That She Finds 'Disgusting'

Photo of Jay A. Fernandez By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire June 21, 2012 at 12:24PM

This week, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival showcases Alison Pill in two of the highest-profile projects in the program: Woody Allen’s opening-night feature “To Rome With Love” and Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series “The Newsroom,” the pilot of which will screen Friday, June 22. The Canadian 26-year-old has long made a point of seeking high-strata work like this in television, theater and film.
2
Alison Pill headshot

This week, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival showcases Alison Pill in two of the highest-profile projects in the program: Woody Allen’s opening-night feature “To Rome With Love” and Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series “The Newsroom,” the pilot of which will screen Friday, June 22. The Canadian 26-year-old has long made a point of seeking high-strata work like this in television, theater and film.

Indie movies such as “Pieces of April,” “Milk,” Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” and “Goon” pepper her resume, and her jaunty performance as Zelda Fitzgerald in Allen’s 2011 breakout “Midnight in Paris” brought her a new level of recognition. On the TV side, Pill played a student diagnosed with cancer in the second season of HBO’s critically acclaimed series “In Treatment,” while her theater work has included parts in “The Miracle Worker,” “Reasons to Be Pretty,” “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” and “Blackbird,” in which she co-starred with “Newsroom” lead Jeff Daniels. As a newly engaged American abroad, Pill's character in "Rome" must navigate the awkward tug-of-war between her Italian fiance and her crusty retired father, and in "Newsroom" she plays an associate producer of a nightly news show convulsing through a major identity crisis.

Her eclecticism and avoidance of most studio-backed projects is no accident, and while Pill’s goofy charm and enthusiasm were on display at a recent press day for “To Rome With Love,” so was her ardent feminism. Pill’s the kind of woman who seems eager to take a stand -- and she’s the rare bird that doesn’t lose her smile even when expressing the fierceness of her opinions.

To get a sense of what Pill really thinks of Woody’s take on young women, the infuriating standards of studio meddlers, the appeal of playing a happily sexual woman, tolerance for gratuitous T&A or the challenges of speaking Sorkin’s “musical dialogue,” read on.

Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald in "Midnight in Paris."
Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald in "Midnight in Paris."
What’s it like having Woody Allen play your dad?

It’s as surreal as being in a Woody Allen movie. It feels like it’s all a dream and still could be. He’s incredible, and one of the most amazing comedians working today.

Woody has a reputation for not directing his actors that much. Did you find that true compared to other directors? What kind of input does he generally give you?

It’s usually pretty basic. For “Midnight in Paris,” it was really just, “She’s southern and the life of the party.” I was like, OK. I think he’s grown to have trust in his instincts enough that he’s not going to choose somebody who would come in unprepared or be a jerk. Once you find somebody who’s not a jerk and wants to be in your movie, then they’re usually going to do as good a job as they possibly can. And I think he trusts that.

This is your second go-round with Woody. Aside from just working with him generally, what appealed about doing the “Rome” character? Did you see the script beforehand?

Yeah, I got our whole storyline. I had no idea what the other storylines were, like Roberto Benigni’s. And we never met each other. Greta [Gerwig] and I knew each other in New York and saw each other last night. We were both like, “Ah! We’re in the same movie!” On this one, I really just got to laugh at everything and sort of be part of the crew.

How long were you in Rome?

I was there for about a month, the month of August. It was hot as balls! It was awful! Also, there are no Romans in Rome in August. They’re all at the beach, they’re all gone. So you’re sort of like, “Oh, I see, you’ve taken the wise choice, Romans…” Just us and the tourists.

Pill on the set of "To Rome With Love."
Pill on the set of "To Rome With Love."

What’s your feeling about how Woody writes young women? Do you think he gets it right?

Ellen Page’s lines in that movie are so hilarious and amazing, and Alec Baldwin’s responses to them are just genius. That’s the thing, is that ultimately Woody Allen has been doing this wonderful thing of both appreciating and being confounded by young women. And most people wouldn’t admit that. So it doesn’t matter what the ultimate line is, it’s about the relationships between men and women more than it is specifically about the woman’s story. And once you see it in that context, you can make total sense of it. As a daughter and a woman with a fiancé [in the film], I think it was totally right. The main focus in your life at that point is the competition between your fiancé and your dad. Even if you didn’t know your dad, you would still be like, Who is this guy? Is he going to be a good dad? Would I want him as my dad?

It’s like that line that you cross when you’re kicking one of your parents along with your spouse until suddenly you’re defending them...

Yeah. “You can’t make fun of my parents. Only I’m allowed to do that.” That tension is all throughout there. And that is reality. I could say that “Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl focuses on the female storyline more. But it’s Woody Allen, it’s a comedy, and it’s hilarious, and his appreciation for young women and his interest in them is always more admirable than a lot of male directors who are confounded by young women and then just ignore them.

This article is related to: Los Angeles Film Festival, Alison Pill, The Newsroom, To Rome With Love, Interviews






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More