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Brit Marling Fights for Strong Roles in Films Like ‘The Keeping Room’ (Trailer)

Brit Marling Fights for Strong Roles in Films Like 'The Keeping Room' (Trailer)

Brainy actress Brit Marling plays yet another sharp role in 2014 Toronto
world premiere “The Keeping Room” (Drafthouse Films, September 25), a Civil War
drama that mixes a character study with the home invasion genre.

has been charting her own course ever since she broke out at Sundance
2011 as the writer-producer-lead of two indies, Mike Cahill’s “Another
Earth” and Zal Batmanglij’s “Sound of My Own Voice.” She went on to play
smart daughters in both Robert Redford’s “The Company We Keep” and
“Arbitrage,” opposite Richard Gere; she collaborated again with
Batmanglij on eco-terrorist thriller “The East,” and with Cahill on
twisty science film “I, Origins.”

WATCH: Brit Marling on ‘The East’

time, a friend sent Marling a script from an unlikely source,
schoolteacher-turned-screenwriter Julia Hart, which was so compelling
that the actress read it through a second time without leaving her
chair. “I was riveted,” she tells me in a phone interview. As the sun
was coming up, she called her agent, saying, “‘We have got to get this!
I’ve got to do this part!’ I don’t know that I’ve ever felt this in such
an intense, visceral way. It’s a story of a woman, written by a woman.
She’s strong in an inherently feminine way.”
Marling doesn’t write her own scripts, she picks projects that either
move her or make her want to work with the director. But this was the
first time that “I felt my heart beating in my chest, like a visceral
thing,” she says. “I felt that I had already done the part and had to
take steps.”

So Marling jumped on board the project with Hart
and her producer husband Jordan Horowitz and WME, who assembled Gilbert
Films, Anonymous Content and Wind Dancer Films to finance and produce
the movie with Daniel Barber. The up-and-coming UK director had shot
“Harry Brown,” a vigilante film starring Michel Caine as an 80-year-old
man living in a crumbling community who takes it upon himself to avenge
the death of a friend. “It was not in an impossible superhero way, but in
a real way,” says Marling. “That’s why producer Jordan and Julia
gravitated toward Daniel. There’s something good about the genders
balancing each other out, nailing both the feminine and masculine, the
yin and yang. You end up being able to say something cleanly and
accurately and get a more balanced perspective.”

The movie
opens in 1865 on a young woman, Augusta, moving stealthily through the
forest, hunting for game. The story is set in the South at the end of
the Civil War as a house full of three women –Augusta, her young
pre-teen sister Louise (Hailee Steinfeld) and their house slave Mad
(Muna Otaru) –are waiting for the men to return. They try to eke out a meager
existence from subsistence farming and hunting, and are wary of strangers,
especially wayward soldiers. When Augusta rides to a store seeking
medicine for a gash in her sister’s leg, she manages to escape on
horseback from two threatening soldiers, but one (Sam Worthington) is
not willing to let her go and tracks her down. 

“The story
is born from Julia’s idea of the keeping room on the property, where the
hearth is moved away from the big house,” says Marling. “It’s a
feminine space that women occupy, where they make the food. When you’re
under attack you retreat to the keeping room, where everyone congregates
in the kitchen, where the food is, where it’s small and you feel safe
and you can defend it. The keeping room becomes the historical bedrock
of the family as they defend the nucleus of the house.”

Read the rest of our interview here.

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