Katie Aselton (also sometimes known as Katie Duplass) first came to our attention as the flustered female lead of Jay and Mark Duplass’ 2005 breakthrough feature, The Puffy Chair. Clearly her troubled onscreen relationship with co-star Mark Duplass was just a fine bit of acting, because she soon married the guy. From time to time, the two of them have worked on other projects, including the hit F/X sitcom, The League (in which they both co-star, but not as a couple). Katie has also appeared in films like the Independent Spirit Award winner, Easier with Practice, and a memorable guest turn on The Office as an object of Steve Carrell’s affection. Her latest role is in her directorial debut, the indie comedy/drama, The Freebie. In the film, she stars as Annie: wife to Darren (Dax Shepard), and a woman unsatisfied with how her marriage has developed. In a moment of equal parts weakness and strength, the couple makes a pact: for one night, they will be allowed to sleep with another person. No consequences, no guilt. The film is funny, but also raw and dark in its examination of marital upheaval. After a successful run at festivals like Sundance and SXSW, the film is rolling out in theaters right now. Go see it. I asked Katie if she would answer a few questions…
Me: Okay, I just got married, and you’ve been married for a few years. Give me some advice: how does one do their best to never end up in a situation like this?
Katie: Avoid late night conversations. They never end well. if you’re awake at that hour, just have sex. That always, almost always, ends great!
Me: What was the defining moment for you that brought along this transition from actress to director? Was it a relatively new ambition?
Katie: Honestly, I just wanted an acting gig. No one was offering me one, so i created one for myself. It was/is a new ambition. it’s my new fallback career! If it didn’t work out for me as an actor, I was going to wait tables… now i’ve got directing to fall back on. My mother is totally relieved.
Me: You and Dax Shepard have such great chemistry, how did he get involved in the project?
Katie: Dax came on at the 11th hour. we had shot three days with a different actor and it just wasn’t working for him, or for us, and so we parted ways. Then we realized we had no lead. It was Ben Kasulke, my DP, who reminded us that Mark had met Dax a year ago and he could work. Mark gave him a call, Dax said “yes” without even looking at the treatment, and i met him the next day, 4 hours before shooting! The movie gods did me a massive favor that day.
Me: How do you think the dynamic of Darren and Annie, and their pact, would be changed if they had children? Was there ever a moment in the creative process where you thought about including a child in their characters’ lives?
Katie: Well, i think that they sort of got into this mess because they were a couple that never evolved and grew together. when you decide to have children, it’s usually because you are ready to move to the next phase of your relationship together. For Annie and Darren, the next “phase” they were entering was taking themselves away from each other and toward someone else. And i think they realize that in the final scene where their friends announce that they are expecting. It’s a bit of a reality check for them.
Me: I gotta ask about The League, which just started its second season. This season is off to such a strong start, and you’re awesome on the show. Are you really a big football fan or are you just that convincing as an actress?
Katie: I have become a football fan. The town i grew up in was so small we didn’t even have a football team, so i never learned the rules! But you have no choice but to learn them real fast when working on The League. Bbottom line though, i’m a huge team sports fan, i’m incredibly competitive, and love a good game of any kind. And, i’m just that convincing of an actress!