On a cloudless Los Angeles afternoon, 39-year old Parker Posey admits to being a tad tired following a day of endless interviews. The New York native was in town to promote her latest film, Broken English, the feature directorial debut of Zoe Cassevetes.
Here Posey is perfectly cast as one Nora Wilder, a thirty-something New Yorker who is cynical about love and relationships. She works in a hotel’s guest relations department, generally feeling alone and ready to give up on love. That is until she meets a Frenchman who may be the one to turn things around, until he returns to paris and she decides, in an unusual fit of spontaneity, to follow him there.
A hit and critical favourite at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, this fresh take on relationships and romantic comedies puts Posey back to where she started, as Independent cinema’s favourite star. It was her indomitable Party Girl, a decade ago, that made Parker Posey that made her a perennial favlourite amongst the Indie set.
Sharing a sun-drenched balcony in Beverly Hills’ Four Seasons Hotel, a wistful Posey, who is about to return to the small screen this September in Amy Sherman’s anticipated new sitcom The Return of Jezebel James contemplates life, career and acting, to Paul Fischer, in this exclusive interview.
Question: So the older you get, has your criteria of choices of the characters you play changed?
Posey: Oh gosh. This movie, Broken English, took three years to get financing so I’m just, again, lucky.
Question: What was it about it, was it the character or the script?
Posey: Usually I play more character parts in big movies and in smaller movies too, like character roles. So playing a part that is written like a normal working woman based on reality, is natural. She’s at the point in her life where she can’t break free from the kind of thinking that you’re doing, the desperate kind of longing, the feelings of loneliness, she’s holding onto something and she’s longing. Nora is in a desperate place and we know that if you want to meet somebody, it’s a precarious, terrible, lonely position to put yourself in. There’s all this self love and all this stuff that gets you around to not relying so much in meeting the man of your dreams, that somebody’s going to come and rescue you and all of that. So this is kind of a portrait of loneliness and how she just starts to touch on something that when she does touch completely on it, it’s going to give her a lot of courage to be loved.
Question: She’s in a job that she’s just dealing with, even though she’s very good at what she’s doing. Do you think that in your case, acting has made you escape any of those periods of loneliness for you, in a way to immerse yourself which is why you work so much?
Posey: Yeah I mean being creative is a great companion and I will always have that. That will never leave me, so I think there’s a good reason why I do work so much and I can rely on it to always interest me and to never leave me. And Nora has a lot of abandonment issues as well, in that she’s lost her father and I think the root of her problem is that she probably feels that if she loves someone and someone loves her well, they’ll die. That’s what happens. Plus she’s self-medicating in her pain. But that’s why I like love stories, because they’re just so much fun to watch.
Question: There is a certain quiet optimism about this movie and about this character as it reaches it’s final act. Are you optimistic yourself about your life?
Posey: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. I live such an independent life, you know. I’m very grateful and in a good place now.
Question: Personally and professionally?
Posey: Yeah. It’s a good place.
Question: Is it difficult to maintain a sort of a sense of normality in your personal life when you work as much as you do?
Posey: Yeah because people look at you a certain way. I mean you work every day right?
Question: Yeah pretty much.
Posey: I’m really glad to be doing the pilot because it will give me some normalcy
Question: Is that going to be shot here?
Posey: No, it’s in New York. She’s from New York..
Question: Why the decision to make this jump to television?
Posey: Yeah, I read the script and I responded to it. I wasn’t expecting to like it. I’d never seen Gilmour Girls, I didn’t know how good it was and I read and it and I liked it. It was that simple. I laughed. And this ability it will give me to be in New York and just go to the same place every day and not be travelling so much will really bring some stability in my life.
Question: Amy Sherman-Palladino is known to be being a very specific writer
Posey: What were the complaints that who used to have?
Question: Is it a half hour sitcom?
Posey: Yeah. Three-camera, so it feels very Norman Lear. It’s really old school.
Question: What kind of woman is she that you play?
Posey: A children’s book editor for Harper Collins. My sister had an imaginary friend named Jezebel James that I made into an icon and I find out in the episode I can’t have children, so I ask my sister to carry my baby for me. We have a very estranged relationship, Odd Couple dynamic. So it’s got that serious thing and that funny thing too. I really liked it when I read it and they’ve got a great cast. I start in August.
Question: Why is it important to you to remain in New York and avoid te whole LA thing?
Posey: It’s basically because of just where I live, and I feel more grounded there. There are distractions there away from the movie business so I can go into my different worlds, go into yoga, I can do pottery, and I can walk.
Question: Do you always need to be creative?…
Question: Where does that come from ?
Posey: I don’t know.
Question: Were your parents creative?
Posey: Yeah they’re pretty creative. They’re very funny, my dad owns a car dealership, my mum is a cook and they’re very eccentric, funny people.
Question: Did you always think that acting was a realistic profession when you were younger?
Posey: I think it embarrassed me in the beginning when I was really little. I was a little ashamed that I liked it. I was like ten years and I got told I should be an actor when I was really little – I was like nine or ten and they were auditioning an actor. Because I was kind of a ham, did ballet dancer and I really felt comfortable on stage and I loved that, It’s just something that I’m supposed to be doing …
Question: So are you more in love with it now than you were when you began?
Posey: I’m much more settled in it and that’s good. And ithe process of working gets deeper.
Question: What do you hope to do beyond acting, maybe do some writing?
Posey: Yeah I’ll probably do some writing. I just got a place upstate in New York so I’m been kind of in country mode, some gardening, planting and doing things like that.
Question: So you’re a gardener as well?
Posey: And just, yeah, I like getting my hands dirty.
Question: From the time that I first started talking to you about this whole Queen of the Indies mantle was sort of fostered upon you so many years ago. Is it a mantle now that you shrug off, that you’re happy to dismiss?
Posey: It doesn’t matter. It’s not like I go places in my normal life and people come out of the blue and ask about that. It’s just when I do press that I’m asked about it.
Question: Well it’s interesting that you were in the indie world when it wasn’t fashionable to be, when the indie film industry was still developing. How has it changed?
Posey: These movies I’ve done recently are interesting because they kind kind of back to where I started ten years ago. So, you know, now independent films are financed by getting major stars attached to them. And that wasn’t the case when I started out, so I was able to do a movie like Party Girl and financers would give money to independent directors so for that …That’s over ten years ago – thirteen years ago. So now, the movies are that much bigger, more expensive, the bigger movies and the smaller movies are not as small.
Question: Will you do another Superman?
Posey: Oh I hope I’m in it Yeah, we’ll see if I’m in it. I don’t know if I am. I just talked to one of the writers last night and I meant to ask him.
Question: Nothing else before you shoot the series?
Posey: No. I’m probably just going to go back upstate, chill out and garden.
Question: That sounds like a great life.
Posey: I know. I feel very lucky to have that.